Detection of a fourth orbivirus non-structural protein.
Belhouchet M., Mohd Jaafar F., Firth AE., Grimes JM., Mertens PPC., Attoui H.
The genus Orbivirus includes both insect and tick-borne viruses. The orbivirus genome, composed of 10 segments of dsRNA, encodes 7 structural proteins (VP1-VP7) and 3 non-structural proteins (NS1-NS3). An open reading frame (ORF) that spans almost the entire length of genome segment-9 (Seg-9) encodes VP6 (the viral helicase). However, bioinformatic analysis recently identified an overlapping ORF (ORFX) in Seg-9. We show that ORFX encodes a new non-structural protein, identified here as NS4. Western blotting and confocal fluorescence microscopy, using antibodies raised against recombinant NS4 from Bluetongue virus (BTV, which is insect-borne), or Great Island virus (GIV, which is tick-borne), demonstrate that these proteins are synthesised in BTV or GIV infected mammalian cells, respectively. BTV NS4 is also expressed in Culicoides insect cells. NS4 forms aggregates throughout the cytoplasm as well as in the nucleus, consistent with identification of nuclear localisation signals within the NS4 sequence. Bioinformatic analyses indicate that NS4 contains coiled-coils, is related to proteins that bind nucleic acids, or are associated with membranes and shows similarities to nucleolar protein UTP20 (a processome subunit). Recombinant NS4 of GIV protects dsRNA from degradation by endoribonucleases of the RNAse III family, indicating that it interacts with dsRNA. However, BTV NS4, which is only half the putative size of the GIV NS4, did not protect dsRNA from RNAse III cleavage. NS4 of both GIV and BTV protect DNA from degradation by DNAse. NS4 was found to associate with lipid droplets in cells infected with BTV or GIV or transfected with a plasmid expressing NS4.