Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, Vol.337, No.2, 720-729, 2005
In vivo functional characterization of the SARS-Coronavirus 3a protein in Drosophila
The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-Coronavirus (SARS-CoV) 3a locus encodes a 274 a.a. novel protein, and its expression has been confirmed in SARS patients. To study functional roles of 3a, we established a transgenic fly model for the SARS-CoV 3a gene. Misexpression of 3a in Drosophila caused a dominant rough eye phenotype. Using a specific monoclonal antibody, we demonstrated that the 3a protein displayed a punctate cytoplasmic localization in Drosophila as in SARS-CoV-infected cells. We provide genetic evidence to support that 3a is functionally related to clathrin-mediated endocytosis. We further found that 3a misexpression induces apoptosis, which could be modulated by cellular cytochrome c levels and caspase activity. From a forward genetic screen, 78 dominant 3a modifying loci were recovered and the identity of these modifiers revealed that the severity of the 3a-induced rough eye phenotype depends on multiple cellular processes including gene transcriptional regulation. (c) 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.