The genomes of influenza A and B viruses have eight, single-stranded RNA segments that exist in the form of a viral ribonucleoprotein complex in association with nucleoprotein (NP) and an RNA-dependent RNA polymerase complex. We previously used high-throughput RNA sequencing coupled with crosslinking immunoprecipitation (HITS-CLIP) to examine where NP binds to the viral RNA (vRNA) and demonstrated for two H1N1 strains that NP binds vRNA in a non-uniform, non-random manner. In this study, we expand on those initial observations and describe the NP-vRNA binding profile for a seasonal H3N2 and influenza B virus. We show that, similar to H1N1 strains, NP binds vRNA in a non-uniform and non-random manner. Each viral gene segment has a unique NP binding profile with areas that are enriched for NP association as well as free of NP-binding. Interestingly, NP-vRNA binding profiles have some conservation between influenza A viruses, H1N1 and H3N2, but no correlation was observed between influenza A and B viruses. Our study demonstrates the conserved nature of non-uniform NP binding within influenza viruses. Mapping of the NP-bound vRNA segments provides information on the flexible NP regions that may be involved in facilitating assembly.
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