Year of Publication
The large (L) proteins of non-segmented, negative-strand RNA viruses are multifunctional enzymes that produce capped, methylated and polyadenylated mRNAs and replicate the viral genome. A phosphoprotein (P), required for efficient RNA-dependent RNA polymerization from the viral ribonucleoprotein (RNP) template, regulates function and conformation of the L protein. We report the structure of vesicular stomatitis virus L in complex with its P cofactor determined by electron cryomicroscopy at 3.0 Å resolution, enabling us to visualize bound segments of P. The contacts of three P segments with multiple L domains show how P induces a closed, compact, initiation-competent conformation. Binding of P to L positions its N-terminal domain adjacent to a putative RNA exit channel for efficient encapsidation of newly synthesized genomes with the nucleoprotein and orients its C-terminal domain to interact with the RNP template. The model shows that a conserved tryptophan in the priming loop can support the initiating 5’-nucleotide.