The nucleocapsid (N) protein of porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV) is the principal component of the viral nucleocapsid and localizes to the nucleolus. Peptide sequence analysis of the N protein of several North American isolates identified two potential nuclear localization signal (NLS) sequences located at amino acids 10-13 and 41-42, which were labeled NLS-1 and NLS-2, respectively. Peptides containing NLS-1 or NLS-2 were sufficient to accumulate enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) in the nucleus. The inactivation of NLS-1 by site-directed mutagenesis or the deletion of the first 14 amino acids did not affect N protein localization to the nucleolus. The substitution of key lysine residues with uncharged amino acids in NLS-2 blocked nuclear/nucleolar localization. Site-directed mutagenesis within NLS-2 identified the sequence, KKNKK, as forming the core localization domain within NLS-2. Using an in vitro pull-down assay, the N protein was able to bind importin-α, importin-β nuclear transport proteins. The localization pattern of N-EGFP fusion peptides represented by a series of deletions from the C- and N-terminal ends of the N protein identified a region covering amino acids 41-72, which contained a nucleolar localization signal (NoLS) sequence. The 41-72 N peptide when fused to EGFP mimicked the nucleolar-cytoplasmic distribution of native N. These results identify a single NLS involved in the transport of N from the cytoplasm and into nucleus. An additional peptide sequence, overlapping NLS-2, is involved in the further targeting of N to the nucleolus.
- Nuclear localization signal (NLS)
- Nucleocapsid (N) protein
- Nucleolar localization signal (NoLS)
- Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus (PRRSV)
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