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Background: The paramyxovirus haemagglutinin-neuraminidase (HN) is a multifunctional protein that is responsible for attachment to receptors, removal of receptors from infected cells to prevent viral self-aggregation (neuraminidase, NA) and fusion promotion. It is commonly accepted that there are two receptor binding sites in the globular head of HN, and the second receptor binding site is only involved in the function of receptor binding and fusion promotion. Methods: 10 conserved residues in the second receptor binding site of Newcastle disease virus (NDV) HN were chosen and substituted to alanine (A). The desired mutants were examined to detect the functional change in hemadsorption (HAD) ability, NA activity and fusion promotion ability. Results: The HAD and fusion promotion ability of mutants C172A, R174A, C196A, D198A, Y526A and E547A were abolished. Compared with wild-type (wt) HN, the HAD of mutants T167A, S202A and R516A decreased to 55.81, 44.53, 69.02%, respectively, and the fusion promotion ability of these three mutants decreased to 54.74, 49.46, 65.26%, respectively; however, mutant G171A still maintained fusion promotion ability comparable with wt HN but had impaired HAD ability. All the site-directed mutations altered the NA activity of NDV HN without affecting protein cell surface expression. Conclusions: The data suggest that mutants C172A, R174A, C196A, D198A, Y526A and E547A do not allow the conformational change that is required for fusion promotion ability and HAD activity, while the other mutants only affect the conformational change to a limited extent, except mutant G171A with intact fusion promotion ability. Overall, the conserved amino acids in the second receptor binding site, especially residues C172, R174, C196, D198, Y526 and E547, are crucial to normal NDV HN protein function.
Liu, Y., Chi, M., Liu, Y., Wen, H., Zhao, L., Song, Y., … Wang, Z. (2019). Roles of the highly conserved amino acids in the second receptor binding site of the Newcastle disease virus HN protein. Virology Journal, 16(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12985-019-1273-y