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Dynamic nucleolar targeting of dengue virus polymerase NS5 in response to extracellular pH.

Fraser JE, Rawlinson SM, Heaton SM, Jans DA

  • Published 29 Aug 2024

  • Volume 90

  • ISSUE 12

  • Pagination 5797-5807

  • DOI 10.1128/JVI.02727-15


The nucleolar subcompartment of the nucleus is increasingly recognized as an important target of RNA viruses. Here we document for the first time the ability of dengue virus (DENV) polymerase, nonstructural protein 5 (NS5), to accumulate within the nucleolus of infected cells and to target green fluorescent protein (GFP) to the nucleolus of live transfected cells. Intriguingly, NS5 exchange between the nucleus and nucleolus is dynamically modulated by extracellular pH, responding rapidly and reversibly to pH change, in contrast to GFP alone or other nucleolar and non-nucleolar targeted protein controls. The minimal pHsensitive nucleolar targeting region (pHNTR), sufficient to target GFP to the nucleolus in a pH-sensitive fashion, was mapped to NS5 residues 1 to 244, with mutation of key hydrophobic residues, Leu-165, Leu-167, and Val-168, abolishing pHNTR function in NS5-transfected cells, and severely attenuating DENV growth in infected cells. This is the first report of a viral protein whose nucleolar targeting ability is rapidly modulated by extracellular stimuli, suggesting that DENV has the ability to detect and respond dynamically to the extracellular environment.