ADP-ribosyl-binding and hydrolase activities of the alphavirus nsP3 macrodomain are critical for initiation of virus replication

Rachy Abraham, Debra Hauer, Robert Lyle McPherson, Age Utt, Ilsa T. Kirby, Michael S. Cohen, Andres Merits, Anthony K.L. Leung, Diane E. Griffin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Alphaviruses are plus-strand RNA viruses that cause encephalitis, rash, and arthritis. The nonstructural protein (nsP) precursor polyprotein is translated from genomic RNA and processed into four nsPs. nsP3 has a highly conserved macrodomain (MD) that binds ADP-ribose (ADPr), which can be conjugated to protein as a posttranslational modification involving transfer of ADPr from NAD+ by poly ADPr polymerases (PARPs). The nsP3MD also removes ADPr from mono ADP-ribosylated (MARylated) substrates. To determine which aspects of alphavirus replication require nsP3MD ADPr-binding and/or hydrolysis function, we studied NSC34 neuronal cells infected with chikungunya virus (CHIKV). Infection induced ADP-ribosylation of cellular proteins without increasing PARP expression, and inhibition of MARylation decreased virus replication. CHIKV with a G32S mutation that reduced ADPr-binding and hydrolase activities was less efficient than WT CHIKV in establishing infection and in producing nsPs, dsRNA, viral RNA, and infectious virus. CHIKV with a Y114A mutation that increased ADPr binding but reduced hydrolase activity, established infection like WT CHIKV, rapidly induced nsP translation, and shut off host protein synthesis with reduced amplification of dsRNA. To assess replicase function independent of virus infection, a transreplicase system was used. Mutant nsP3MDs D10A, G32E, and G112E with no binding or hydrolase activity had no replicase activity, G32S had little, and Y114A was intermediate to WT. Therefore, ADP ribosylation of proteins and nsP3MD ADPr binding are necessary for initiation of alphavirus replication, while hydrolase activity facilitates amplification of replication complexes. These observations are consistent with observed nsP3MD conservation and limited tolerance for mutation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E10457-E10466
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number44
StatePublished - Oct 30 2018


  • ADP ribosylation
  • Alphavirus
  • Macrodomain
  • PARP
  • Replication complexes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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