The recent outbreak of Zika virus (ZIKV) has infected over 1 million people in over 30 countries. ZIKV replicates its RNA genome using virally encoded replication proteins. Nonstructural protein 5 (NS5) contains a methyltransferase for RNA capping and a polymerase for viral RNA synthesis. Here we report the crystal structures of full-length NS5 and its polymerase domain at 3.0 Å resolution. The NS5 structure has striking similarities to the NS5 protein of the related Japanese encephalitis virus. The methyltransferase contains in-line pockets for substrate binding and the active site. Key residues in the polymerase are located in similar positions to those of the initiation complex for the hepatitis C virus polymerase. The polymerase conformation is affected by the methyltransferase, which enables a more efficiently elongation of RNA synthesis in vitro. Overall, our results will contribute to future studies on ZIKV infection and the development of inhibitors of ZIKV replication.
Zhao B, Yi G, Du F, Chuang YC, Vaughan RC, Sankaran B, Kao CC, Li P.
Nat Commun. 2017 Mar 27;8:14762. doi: 10.1038/ncomms14762.