Triphosphate reorientation of the incoming nucleotide as a fidelity checkpoint in viral RNA-dependent RNA Polymerases

Xiaorong Yang, Xinran Liu, Derek M. Musser, Ibrahim M. Moustafa, Jamie J. Arnold, Craig E. Cameron, David D. Boehr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


The nucleotide incorporation fidelity of the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) is important for maintaining functional genetic information but, at the same time, is also important for generating sufficient genetic diversity to escape the bottlenecks of the host's antiviral response. We have previously shown that the structural dynamics of the motifDloop are closely related to nucleotide discrimination. Previous studies have also suggested that there is a reorientation of the triphosphate of the incoming nucleotide, which is essential before nucleophilic attack from the primer RNA 3-hydroxyl. Here, we have used 31PNMRwith poliovirus RdRp to show that the binding environment of the triphosphate is different when correct versus incorrect nucleotide binds.Wealso show that amino acid substitutions at residues known to interact with the triphosphate can alter the binding orientation/environment of the nucleotide, sometimes lead to protein conformational changes, and lead to substantial changes in RdRp fidelity. The analyses of other fidelity variants also show that changes in the triphosphate binding environment are not always accompanied by changes in the structural dynamics of the motif D loop or other regions known to be important for RdRp fidelity, including motif B. Altogether, our studies suggest that the conformational changes in motifs B and D, and the nucleoside triphosphate reorientation represent separable, "tunable" fidelity checkpoints.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3810-3826
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number9
StatePublished - Mar 3 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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