DNA-binding properties of African swine fever virus pA104R, a histone-like protein involved in viral replication and transcription

Gonçalo Frouco, Ferdinando B. Freitas, João Coelho, Alexandre Leitão, Carlos Martins, Fernando Ferreira

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20 Citations (Scopus)


African swine fever virus (ASFV) codes for a putative histone-like protein (pA104R) with extensive sequence homology to bacterial proteins that are implicated in genome replication and packaging. Functional characterization of purified recombinant pA104R revealed that it binds to single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) and double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) over a wide range of temperatures, pH values, and salt concentrations and in an ATP-independent manner, with an estimated binding site size of about 14 to 16 nucleotides. Using site-directed mutagenesis, the arginine located in pA104R's DNA-binding domain, at position 69, was found to be relevant for efficient DNA-binding activity. Together, pA104R and ASFV topoisomerase II (pP1192R) display DNA-supercoiling activity, although none of the proteins by themselves do, indicating that the two cooperate in this process. In ASFV-infected cells, A104R transcripts were detected from 2 h postinfection (hpi) onward, reaching a maximum concentration around 16 hpi. pA104R was detected from 12 hpi onward, localizing with viral DNA replication sites and being found exclusively in the Tritoninsoluble fraction. Small interfering RNA (siRNA) knockdown experiments revealed that pA104R plays a critical role in viral DNA replication and gene expression, with transfected cells showing lower viral progeny numbers (up to a reduction of 82.0%), lower copy numbers of viral genomes (-78.3%), and reduced transcription of a late viral gene (-47.6%). Taken together, our results strongly suggest that pA104R participates in the modulation of viral DNA topology, probably being involved in viral DNA replication, transcription, and packaging, emphasizing that ASFV mutants lacking the A104R gene could be used as a strategy to develop a vaccine against ASFV.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere02498-16
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2017


  • African swine fever virus
  • DNA binding
  • Histone-like protein
  • PA104R
  • Viral replication
  • Viral transcription


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