Induction of endoplasmic reticulum-derived replication-competent membrane structures by West Nile virus non-structural protein 4B

PLoS One. 2014 Jan 20;9(1):e84040. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0084040. eCollection 2014.


Replication of flaviviruses (family Flaviviridae) occurs in specialized virus-induced membrane structures (IMS). The cellular composition of these IMS varies for different flaviviruses implying different organelle origins for IMS biogenesis. The role of flavivirus non-structural (NS) proteins for the alteration of IMS remains controversial. In this report, we demonstrate that West Nile virus strain New York 99 (WNVNY99) remodels the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane to generate specialized IMS. Within these structures, we observed an element of the cis-Golgi, viral double-stranded RNA, and viral-envelope, NS1, NS4A and NS4B proteins using confocal immunofluorescence microscopy. Biochemical analysis and microscopy revealed that NS4B lacking the 2K-signal peptide associates with the ER membrane where it initiates IMS formation in WNV-infected cells. Co-transfection studies indicated that NS4A and NS4B always remain co-localized in the IMS and are associated with the same membrane fractions, suggesting that these proteins function cooperatively in virus replication and may be an ideal target for antiviral drug discovery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Line
  • Chlorocebus aethiops
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect
  • Humans
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Vero Cells
  • Viral Nonstructural Proteins / chemistry
  • Viral Nonstructural Proteins / metabolism*
  • Virus Replication / physiology
  • West Nile virus / metabolism*
  • West Nile virus / physiology*


  • Viral Nonstructural Proteins