Positive-strand RNA viruses, which can be devastating pathogens in humans, animals and plants, replicate their genomes on intracellular membranes. Here, we describe the three-dimensional ultrastructural organization of a tombusvirus replicase in yeast, a valuable model for exploring virus-host interactions. We visualized the intracellular distribution of a viral replicase protein using metal-tagging transmission electron microscopy, a highly sensitive nanotechnology whose full potential remains to be developed. These three-dimensional images show how viral replicase molecules are organized when they are incorporated into the active domains of the intracellular replication compartment. Our approach provides a means to study protein activation mechanisms in cells and to identify targets for new antiviral compounds.
Keywords: 3D electron microscopy; Clonable tag; Metal-tagging transmission electron microscopy; Tomography; Viral replication factory.
© 2017. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.