During dengue virus infection of host cells, intracellular membranes are rearranged into distinct subcellular structures such as double-membrane vesicles, convoluted membranes, and tubular structures. Recent electron tomographic studies have provided a detailed three-dimensional architecture of the double-membrane vesicles, representing the sites of dengue virus replication, but temporal and spatial evidence linking membrane morphogenesis with viral RNA synthesis is lacking. Integrating techniques in electron tomography and molecular virology, we defined an early period in virus-infected mosquito cells during which the formation of a virus-modified membrane structure, the double-membrane vesicle, is proportional to the rate of viral RNA synthesis. Convoluted membranes were absent in dengue virus-infected C6/36 cells. Electron tomographic reconstructions elucidated a high-resolution view of the replication complexes inside vesicles and allowed us to identify distinct pathways of particle formation. Hence, our findings extend the structural details of dengue virus replication within mosquito cells and highlight their differences from mammalian cells.
Importance: Dengue virus induces several distinct intracellular membrane structures within the endoplasmic reticulum of mammalian cells. These structures, including double-membrane vesicles and convoluted membranes, are linked, respectively, with viral replication and viral protein processing. However, dengue virus cycles between two disparate animal groups with differing physiologies: mammals and mosquitoes. Using techniques in electron microscopy, we examined the differences between intracellular structures induced by dengue virus in mosquito cells. Additionally, we utilized techniques in molecular virology to temporally link events in virus replication to the formation of these dengue virus-induced membrane structures.