Studies of the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) from poliovirus (PV), 3Dpol, have shown that Asn-297 permits this enzyme to distinguish ribose from 2′-deoxyribose. All animal RNA viruses have Asn at the structurally homologous position of their polymerases, suggesting a conserved function for this residue. However, all prokaryotic RNA viruses have Glu at this position. In the presence of Mg2+, the apparent affinity of Glu-297 3Dpol for 2′-deoxyribonucleotides was decreased by 6-fold relative to wild type without a substantial difference in the fidelity of 2′-dNMP incorporation. The fidelity of ribonucleotide misincorporation for Glu-297 3Dpol was reduced by 14-fold relative to wild type. A 4- to 11-fold reduction in the rate of ribonucleotide incorporation was observed. Glu-297 PV was unable to grow in HeLa cells due to a replication defect equivalent to that observed for a mutant PV encoding an inactive polymerase. Evaluation of the protein-(VPg)-primed initiation reaction showed that only half of the Glu-297 3Dpol initiation complexes were capable of producing VPg-pUpU product and that the overall yield of uridylylated VPg products was reduced by 20-fold relative to wild-type enzyme, a circumstance attributable to a reduced affinity for UTP. These studies identify the first RdRp derivative with a mutator phenotype and provide a mechanistic basis for the elevated mutation frequency of RNA phage relative to animal RNA viruses observed in culture. Although protein-primed initiation and RNA-primed elongation complexes employ the same polymerase active site, the functional differences reported here imply significant structural differences between these complexes.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology