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. 1992 Aug;66(8):4737-47.

Spike Protein-Nucleocapsid Interactions Drive the Budding of Alphaviruses

Free PMC article

Spike Protein-Nucleocapsid Interactions Drive the Budding of Alphaviruses

M Suomalainen et al. J Virol. .
Free PMC article


Semliki Forest virus (SFV) particles are released from infected cells by budding of nucleocapsids through plasma membrane regions that are modified by virus spike proteins. The budding process was studied with recombinant SFV genomes which lacked the nucleocapsid protein gene or, alternatively, the spike genes. No subviral particles were released from cells which expressed only the nucleocapsid protein or the spike proteins. Virus release was found to be strictly dependent on the coexpression of the nucleocapsid and the spike proteins. These results provide direct proof for the hypothesis that the alphavirus budding is driven by nucleocapsid-spike interactions. The importance of the viral 42S RNA for virus assembly and budding was investigated by using the heterologous vaccinia virus-T7 expression system for the synthesis of the SFV structural proteins. The results demonstrate that the viral genome is not absolutely required for formation of budding competent nucleocapsids, since small amounts of viruslike particles were assembled in the absence of 42S RNA.

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