The N-terminal domain of the E3L protein of vaccinia virus has sequence similarity to a family of Z-DNA binding proteins of defined three-dimensional structure and it is necessary for pathogenicity in mice. When other Z-DNA-binding domains are substituted for the similar E3L domain, the virus retains its lethality after intracranial inoculation. Mutations decreasing Z-DNA binding in the chimera correlate with decreases in viral pathogenicity, as do analogous mutations in wild-type E3L. A chimeric virus incorporating a related protein that does not bind Z-DNA is not pathogenic, but a mutation that creates Z-DNA binding makes a lethal virus. The ability to bind the Z conformation is thus essential to E3L activity. This finding may allow the design of a class of antiviral agents, including agents against variola (smallpox), which has an almost identical E3L.
|Number of pages
|Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
|Published - Jun 10 2003
ASJC Scopus subject areas