Overexpression of 7a, a Protein Specifically Encoded by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus, Induces Apoptosis via a Caspase-Dependent Pathway
Fielding, Burtram C.
Tan, Timothy H.P.
Lim, Seng Gee
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Besides genes that are homologous to proteins found in other coronaviruses, the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus genome also contains nine other potential open reading frames. Previously, we have characterized the expression and cellular localization of two of these “accessory” viral proteins, 3a (previously termed U274) and 7a (previously termed U122). In this study, we further examined whether they can induce apoptosis, which has been observed clinically. We showed that the overexpression of 7a, but not of 3a or the viral structural proteins, nucleocapsid, membrane, and envelope, induces apoptosis. 7a induces apoptosis via a caspase-dependent pathway and in cell lines derived from different organs, including lung, kidney, and liver.