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Generation and Assembly of Virus-Specific Nucleocapsids of the Respiratory Syncytial Virus

Yunrong Gao1, Claire Ogilvie1, Anirudh Raghavan1, Chloe Von Hoffmann1, Bo Liang1

Abstract

The use of an authentic RNA template is critical to advance the fundamental knowledge of viral RNA synthesis that can guide both mechanistic discovery and assay development in virology. The RNA template of nonsegmented negative-sense (NNS) RNA viruses, such as the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), is not an RNA molecule alone but rather a nucleoprotein (N) encapsidated ribonucleoprotein complex. Despite the importance of the authentic RNA template, the generation and assembly of such a ribonucleoprotein complex remain sophisticated and require in-depth elucidation. The main challenge is that the overexpressed RSV N binds non-specifically to cellular RNAs to form random nucleocapsid-like particles (NCLPs). Here, we established a protocol to obtain RNA-free N (N0) first by co-expressing N with a chaperone phosphoprotein (P), then assembling N0 with RNA oligos with the RSV-specific RNA sequence to obtain virus-specific nucleocapsids (NCs). This protocol shows how to overcome the difficulty in the preparation of this traditionally challenging viral ribonucleoprotein complex.

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