Subcellular localization of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus nucleocapsid protein

Jaehwan You, Brian K. Dove, Luis Enjuanes, Marta L. DeDiego, Enrique Alvarez, Gareth Howell, Paul Heinen, Maria Zambon, Julian A. Hiscox*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Citations (Scopus)


The coronavirus nucleocapsid (N) protein is a viral RNA-binding protein with multiple functions in terms of virus replication and modulating cell signalling pathways. N protein is composed of three distinct regions containing RNA-binding motif(s), and appropriate signals for modulating cell signalling. The subcellular localization of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) N protein was studied. In infected cells, SARS-CoV N protein localized exclusively to the cytoplasm. In contrast to the avian coronavirus N protein, overexpressed SARS-CoV N protein remained principally localized to the cytoplasm, with very few cells exhibiting nucleolar localization. Bioinformatic analysis and deletion mutagenesis coupled to confocal microscopy and live-cell imaging, revealed that SARS-CoV N protein regions I and III contained nuclear localization signals and region II contained a nucleolar retention signal. However, cytoplasmic localization was directed by region III and was the dominant localization signal in the protein.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3303-3310
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of General Virology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005


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