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The SARS coronavirus E protein interacts with PALS1 and alters tight junction formation and epithelial morphogenesis.

Teoh K.T., Siu Y.L., Chan W.L., Schlueter M.A., Liu C.J., Peiris J.S., Bruzzone R., Margolis B., Nal B.

Intercellular tight junctions define epithelial apicobasal polarity and form a physical fence which protects underlying tissues from pathogen invasions. PALS1, a tight junction-associated protein, is a member of the CRUMBS3-PALS1-PATJ polarity complex, which is crucial for the establishment and maintenance of epithelial polarity in mammals. Here we report that the carboxy-terminal domain of the SARS-CoV E small envelope protein (E) binds to human PALS1. Using coimmunoprecipitation and pull-down assays, we show that E interacts with PALS1 in mammalian cells and further demonstrate that the last four carboxy-terminal amino acids of E form a novel PDZ-binding motif that binds to PALS1 PDZ domain. PALS1 redistributes to the ERGIC/Golgi region, where E accumulates, in SARS-CoV-infected Vero E6 cells. Ectopic expression of E in MDCKII epithelial cells significantly alters cyst morphogenesis and, furthermore, delays formation of tight junctions, affects polarity, and modifies the subcellular distribution of PALS1, in a PDZ-binding motif-dependent manner. We speculate that hijacking of PALS1 by SARS-CoV E plays a determinant role in the disruption of the lung epithelium in SARS patients.

Mol. Biol. Cell 21:3838-3852(2010) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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