Vaccinia Virus A6 Is Essential for Virion Membrane Biogenesis and Localization of Virion Membrane Proteins to Sites of Virion Assembly

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas, USA.
Journal of Virology (Impact Factor: 4.44). 03/2012; 86(10):5603-13. DOI: 10.1128/JVI.00330-12
Source: PubMed


Poxvirus acquires its primary envelope through a process that is distinct from those of other enveloped viruses. The molecular mechanism of this process is poorly understood, but several poxvirus proteins essential for the process have been identified in studies of vaccinia virus (VACV), the prototypical poxvirus. Previously, we identified VACV A6 as an essential factor for virion morphogenesis by studying a temperature-sensitive mutant with a lesion in A6. Here, we further studied A6 by constructing and characterizing an inducible virus (iA6) that could more stringently repress A6 expression. When A6 expression was induced by the inducer isopropyl-β-D-thiogalactoside (IPTG), iA6 replicated normally, and membrane proteins of mature virions (MVs) predominantly localized in viral factories where virions were assembled. However, when A6 expression was repressed, electron microscopy of infected cells showed the accumulation of large viroplasm inclusions containing virion core proteins but no viral membranes. Immunofluorescence and cell fractionation studies showed that the major MV membrane proteins A13, A14, D8, and H3 did not localize to viral factories but instead accumulated in the secretory compartments, including the endoplasmic reticulum. Overall, our results show that A6 is an additional VACV protein that participates in an early step of virion membrane biogenesis. Furthermore, A6 is required for MV membrane protein localization to sites of virion assembly, suggesting that MV membrane proteins or precursors of MV membranes are trafficked to sites of virion assembly through an active, virus-mediated process that requires A6.

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