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01 2022 International journal of molecular sciences

Experimental Evidence of Intrinsic Disorder and Amyloid Formation by the W Proteins.


Pesce G, Gondelaud F, Ptchelkine D, Nilsson JF, Bignon C, Cartalas J, Fourquet P, Longhi S


Henipaviruses are severe human pathogens within the family. Beyond the P protein, the P gene also encodes the V and W proteins which share with P their N-terminal, intrinsically disordered domain (NTD) and possess a unique C-terminal domain. W proteins antagonize interferon (IFN) signaling through NTD-mediated binding to STAT1 and STAT4, and prevent type I IFN expression and production of chemokines. Structural and molecular information on W proteins is lacking. By combining various bioinformatic approaches, we herein show that the W proteins are predicted to be prevalently disordered and yet to contain short order-prone segments. Using limited proteolysis, differential scanning fluorimetry, analytical size exclusion chromatography, far-UV circular dichroism and small-angle X-ray scattering, we experimentally confirmed their overall disordered nature. In addition, using Congo red and Thioflavin T binding assays and negative-staining transmission electron microscopy, we show that the W proteins phase separate to form amyloid-like fibrils. The present study provides an additional example, among the few reported so far, of a viral protein forming amyloid-like fibrils, therefore significantly contributing to enlarge our currently limited knowledge of viral amyloids. In light of the critical role of the W proteins in evading the host innate immune response and of the functional role of phase separation in biology, these studies provide a conceptual asset to further investigate the functional impact of the phase separation abilities of the W proteins.

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