Phosphorylation of the brome mosaic virus capsid regulates the timing of viral infection

Haley S. Hoover, Joseph Che Yen Wang, Stefani Middleton, Peng Ni, Adam Zlotnick, Robert C. Vaughan, C. Cheng Kao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


The four brome mosaic virus (BMV) RNAs (RNA1 to RNA4) are encapsidated in three distinct virions that have different disassembly rates in infection. The mechanism for the differential release of BMV RNAs from virions is unknown, since 180 copies of the same coat protein (CP) encapsidate each of the BMV genomic RNAs. Using mass spectrometry, we found that the BMV CP contains a complex pattern of posttranslational modifications. Treatment with phosphatase was found to not significantly affect the stability of the virions containing RNA1 but significantly impacted the stability of the virions that encapsidated BMV RNA2 and RNA3/4. Cryo-electron microscopy reconstruction revealed dramatic structural changes in the capsid and the encapsidated RNA. A phosphomimetic mutation in the flexible N-terminal arm of the CP increased BMV RNA replication and virion production. The degree of phosphorylation modulated the interaction of CP with the encapsidated RNA and the release of three of the BMV RNAs. UV cross-linking and immunoprecipitation methods coupled to high-throughput sequencing experiments showed that phosphorylation of the BMV CP can impact binding to RNAs in the virions, including sequences that contain regulatory motifs for BMV RNA gene expression and replication. Phosphatase-treated virions affected the timing of CP expression and viral RNA replication in plants. The degree of phosphorylation decreased when the plant hosts were grown at an elevated temperature. These results show that phosphorylation of the capsid modulates BMV infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7748-7760
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number17
StatePublished - 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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