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SARS-CoV-2 ORF6 disrupts nucleocytoplasmic transport through interactions with Rae1 and Nup98

By Amin Addetia, Nicole AP Lieberman, Quynh Phung, Hong Xie, Pavitra Roychoudhury, Lasata Shretha, Michelle Loprieno, Meei-Li Huang, Keith R Jerome, Alexander Greninger

Posted 03 Aug 2020
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.08.03.234559

RNA viruses that replicate in the cytoplasm often disrupt nucleocytoplasmic transport to preferentially translate their own transcripts and prevent host antiviral responses. The Sarbecovirus accessory protein ORF6 has previously been shown to be the major inhibitor of interferon production in both SARS-CoV and SARS-CoV-2. SARS-CoV-2 ORF6 was recently shown to co-purify with the host mRNA export factors Rae1 and Nup98. Here, we demonstrate SARS-CoV-2 ORF6 strongly represses protein expression of co-transfected reporter constructs and imprisons host mRNA in the nucleus, which is associated with its ability to co-purify with Rae1 and Nup98. These protein-protein interactions map to the C-terminus of ORF6 and can be abolished by a single amino acid mutation in Met58. Overexpression of Rae1 restores reporter expression in the presence of SARS-CoV-2 ORF6. We further identify an ORF6 mutant containing a 9-amino acid deletion, ORF6 ∆22-30, in multiple SARS-CoV-2 clinical isolates that can still downregulate the expression of a co-transfected reporter and interact with Rae1 and Nup98. SARS-CoV ORF6 also interacts with Rae1 and Nup98. However, SARS-CoV-2 ORF6 more strongly co-purifies with Rae1 and Nup98 and results in significantly reduced expression of reporter proteins compared to SARS-CoV ORF6, a potential mechanism for the delayed symptom onset and pre-symptomatic transmission uniquely associated with the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. ### Competing Interest Statement The authors have declared no competing interest.

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