RNA 3'-end mismatch excision by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus nonstructural protein nsp10/nsp14 exoribonuclease complex

Mickaël Bouvet, Isabelle Imbert, Lorenzo Subissi, Laure Gluais, Bruno Canard, Etienne Decroly
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 2012 June 12, 109 (24): 9372-7
The replication/transcription complex of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus is composed of at least 16 nonstructural proteins (nsp1-16) encoded by the ORF-1a/1b. This complex includes replication enzymes commonly found in positive-strand RNA viruses, but also a set of RNA-processing activities unique to some nidoviruses. The nsp14 protein carries both exoribonuclease (ExoN) and (guanine-N7)-methyltransferase (N7-MTase) activities. The nsp14 ExoN activity ensures a yet-uncharacterized function in the virus life cycle and must be regulated to avoid nonspecific RNA degradation. In this work, we show that the association of nsp10 with nsp14 stimulates >35-fold the ExoN activity of the latter while playing no effect on N7-MTase activity. Nsp10 mutants unable to interact with nsp14 are not proficient for ExoN activation. The nsp10/nsp14 complex hydrolyzes double-stranded RNA in a 3' to 5' direction as well as a single mismatched nucleotide at the 3'-end mimicking an erroneous replication product. In contrast, di-, tri-, and longer unpaired ribonucleotide stretches, as well as 3'-modified RNAs, resist nsp10/nsp14-mediated excision. In addition to the activation of nsp16-mediated 2'-O-MTase activity, nsp10 also activates nsp14 in an RNA processing function potentially connected to a replicative mismatch repair mechanism.

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