Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version



JOURNAL OF VIROLOGY, July 1999, p. 5613–5620


Copyright © 1999, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved


The phosphoprotein, P, of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is a key subunit of the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase complex. The protein is phosphorylated at multiple sites in two different domains. We recently showed that specific serine and threonine residues within the amino-terminal acidic domain I of P protein must be phosphorylated for in vivo transcription activity, but not for replication activity, of the polymerase complex. To examine the role of phosphorylation of the carboxy-terminal domain II residues of the P protein in transcription and replication, we have used a panel of mutant P proteins in which the phosphate acceptor sites (Ser-226, Ser-227, and Ser-233) were altered to alanines either individually or in various combinations. Analyses of the mutant proteins for their ability to support replication of a VSV minigenomic RNA suggest that phosphorylation of either Ser-226 or Ser-227 is necessary for optimal replication activity of the protein. The mutant protein (P226/227) in which both of these residues were altered to alanines was only about 8% active in replication compared to the wild-type (wt) protein. Substitution of alanine for Ser-233 did not have any adverse effect on replication activity of the protein. In contrast, all the mutant proteins showed activities similar to that of the wt protein in transcription. These results indicate that phosphorylation of the carboxy-terminal domain II residues of P protein are required for optimal replication activity but not for transcription activity. Furthermore, substitution of glutamic acid residues for Ser-226 and Ser-227 resulted in a protein that was only 14% active in replication but almost fully active in transcription. Taken together, these results, along with our earlier studies, suggest that phosphorylation of residues at two different domains in the P protein regulates its activity in transcription and replication of the VSV genome.