The pathogenesis of SARS-CoV remains largely unknown. To study the function of the SARS-CoV nucleocapsid protein, we have conducted a yeast two-hybrid screening experiment to identify cellular proteins that may interact with the SARS-CoV nucleocapsid protein. Pyruvate kinase (liver) was found to interact with SARS-CoV nucleocapsid protein in this experiment. The binding domains of these two proteins were also determined using the yeast two-hybrid system. The physical interaction between the SARS-CoV nucleocapsid and cellular pyruvate kinase (liver) proteins was further confirmed by GST pull-down assay, co-immunoprecipitation assay and confocal microscopy. Cellular pyruvate kinase activity in hepatoma cells was repressed by SARS-CoV nucleocapsid protein in either transiently transfected or stably transfected cells. PK deficiency in red blood cells is known to result in human hereditary non-spherocytic hemolytic anemia. It is reasonable to assume that an inhibition of PKL activity due to interaction with SARS-CoV N protein is likely to cause the death of the hepatocytes, which results in the elevation of serum alanine aminotransferase and liver dysfunction noted in most SARS patients. Thus, our results suggest that SARS-CoV could reduce pyruvate kinase activity via its nucleocapsid protein, and this may in turn cause disease.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Apr 1, 2012
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