Background: Proteins associated with the late endosome (LE) appear to play a central role in the envelopment of a number of taxonomically diverse viruses. How viral proteins interact with LE-associated proteins to facilitate envelopment is not well understood. LE-derived transport vesicles form through the interaction of Rab9 GTPase with cargo proteins, and TIP47, a Rab9-specific effector protein. Vaccinia virus (VV) induces a wrapping complex derived from intracellular host membranes to envelope intracellular mature virus particles producing egress-competent forms of virus.
Results: We show that VV p37 protein associates with TIP47-, Rab9-, and CI-MPR-containing membranes. Mutation of a di-aromatic motif in p37 blocks association with TIP47 and inhibits plaque formation. ST-246, a specific inhibitor of p37 function, inhibits these interactions and also blocks wrapped virus particle formation. Vaccinia virus expressing p37 variants with reduced ST-246 susceptibility associates with Rab9 and co-localizes with CI-MPR in the presence and absence of compound.
Conclusion: These results suggest that p37 localizes to the LE and interacts with proteins associated with LE-derived transport vesicle biogenesis to facilitate assembly of extracellular forms of virus.