NMR solution structure of poliovirus uridylyated peptide linked to the genome (VPgpU)

Catherine H. Schein, Numan Oezguen, Gerbrand J. Van Der Heden Van Noort, Dmitri V. Filippov, Aniko Pauld, Eric Kumar, Werner Braun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Picornaviruses have a 22-24 amino acid peptide, VPg, bound covalently at the 5' end of their RNA, that is essential for replication. VPgs are uridylylated at a conserved tyrosine to form VPgpU, the primer of RNA synthesis by the viral polymerase. This first complete structure for any uridylylated VPg, of poliovirus type 1 (PV1)-VPgpU, shows that conserved amino acids in VPg stabilize the bound UMP, with the uridine atoms involved in base pairing and chain elongation projected outward. Comparing this structure to PV1-VPg and partial structures of VPg/VPgpU from other picornaviruses suggests that enteroviral polymerases require a more stable VPg structure than does the distantly related aphthovirus, foot and mouth disease virus (FMDV). The glutamine residue at the C-terminus of PV1-VPgpU lies in back of the uridine base and may stabilize its position during chain elongation and/or contribute to base specificity. Under in vivo-like conditions with the authentic cre(2C) hairpin RNA and Mg2+, 5-methylUTP cannot compete with UTP for VPg uridylyation in an in vitro uridylyation assay, but both nucleotides are equally incorporated by PV1-polymerase with Mn2+ and a poly-A RNA template. This indicates the 5 position is recognized under in vivo conditions. The compact VPgpU structure docks within the active site cavity of the PV-polymerase, close to the position seen for the fragment of FMDV-VPgpU with its polymerase. This structure could aid in design of novel enterovirus inhibitors, and stabilization upon uridylylation may also be pertinent for post-translational uridylylation reactions that underlie other biological processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1441-1448
Number of pages8
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Antiviral compounds
  • Disordered structures
  • Enteroviruses
  • Flexibility
  • Picornaviruses
  • Polymerase priming mechanism
  • Post-translational modification
  • RNA editing
  • Uridylylation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Endocrinology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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