The four serotypes of dengue virus (DENV-1 to 4) cause the most important arthropod-borne viral disease of humans. DENV non-structural protein 5 (NS5) contains enzymatic activities required for capping and replication of the viral RNA genome, that occurs in the host cytoplasm. However, previous studies have shown that DENV-2 NS5 accumulates in the nucleus during infection. In this study we examined the nuclear localization of NS5 for all four DENV serotypes. We demonstrate for the first time that there are serotypic differences in NS5 nuclear localization. Whilst the DENV-2 and -3 proteins accumulate in the nucleus, DENV-1 and -4 NS5 are predominantly if not exclusively localized to the cytoplasm. Comparative studies on the DENV-2 and -4 NS5 proteins revealed that the difference in DENV-4 NS5 nuclear localization was not due to rapid nuclear export but rather the lack of a functional nuclear localization sequence. Interaction studies using DENV-2 and -4 NS5 and human importin-α isoforms failed to identify an interaction that supported the differential nuclear localization of NS5. siRNA knockdown of the human importin-α isoform KPNA2, corresponding to the murine importin-α isoform previously shown to bind to DENV-2 NS5, did not substantially affect DENV-2 NS5 nuclear localization whereas knockdown of importin-β did. The serotypic differences in NS5 nuclear localization did not correlate with differences in IL-8 gene expression. The results show that NS5 nuclear localization is not strictly required for virus replication but is more likely to have an auxiliary function in the lifecycle of specific DENV serotypes.
- dengue virus
- nuclear localization