Hepatitis C virus (HCV) NS5A protein is essential for HCV RNA replication and virus assembly. Here we report the identification of NS5A phosphorylation sites Ser-222, Ser-235 and Thr-348 during an infectious HCV replication cycle and demonstrate that Ser-235 phosphorylation is essential for HCV RNA replication. Confocal microscopy revealed that both phosphoablatant (S235A) and phosphomimetic (S235D) mutants redistribute NS5A to large juxta-nuclear foci that display altered colocalization with known replication complex components. Using electron microscopy (EM) we found that S235D alters virus-induced membrane rearrangements while EM using 'APEX2'-tagged viruses demonstrated S235D-mediated enrichment of NS5A in irregular membranous foci. Finally, using a customized siRNA screen of candidate NS5A kinases and subsequent analysis using a phospho-specific antibody, we show that phosphatidylinositol-4 kinase III alpha (PI4KIIIα) is important for Ser-235 phosphorylation. We conclude that Ser-235 phosphorylation of NS5A is essential for HCV RNA replication and normal replication complex formation and is regulated by PI4KIIIα.
- Hepatitis C virus
- Phosphatidylinositol-4 kinase III alpha
- Replication complex
- Replication factory