Nuclear Transport of Respiratory Syncytial Virus Matrix Protein Is Regulated by Dual Phosphorylation Sites

Reena Ghildyal, Michael N. Teng, Kim C. Tran, John Mills, Marco G. Casarotto, Philip G. Bardin, David A. Jans

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Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a major cause of respiratory infections in infants and the elderly. Although the RSV matrix (M) protein has key roles in the nucleus early in infection, and in the cytoplasm later, the molecular basis of switching between the nuclear and cytoplasmic compartments is not known. Here, we show that protein kinase CK2 can regulate M nucleocytoplasmic distribution, whereby inhibition of CK2 using the specific inhibitor 4,5,6,7-tetrabromobenzo-triazole (TBB) increases M nuclear accumulation in infected cells as well as when ectopically expressed in transfected cells. We use truncation/mutagenic analysis for the first time to show that serine (S) 95 and threonine (T) 205 are key CK2 sites that regulate M nuclear localization. Dual alanine (A)-substitution to prevent phosphorylation abolished TBB- enhancement of nuclear accumulation, while aspartic acid (D) substitution to mimic phosphorylation at S95 increased nuclear accumulation. D95 also induced cytoplasmic aggregate formation, implying that a negative charge at S95 may modulate M oligomerization. A95/205 substitution in recombinant RSV resulted in reduced virus production compared with wild type, with D95/205 substitution resulting in an even greater level of attenuation. Our data support a model where unphosphorylated M is imported into the nucleus, followed by phosphorylation of T205 and S95 later in infection to facilitate nuclear export and cytoplasmic retention of M, respectively, as well as oligomerization/virus budding. In the absence of widely available, efficacious treatments to protect against RSV, the results raise the possibility of antiviral strategies targeted at CK2.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7976
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2022


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