Neuronal retrograde transport of Borna disease virus occurs in signalling endosomes

J Gen Virol. 2016 Dec;97(12):3215-3224. doi: 10.1099/jgv.0.000652. Epub 2016 Nov 8.


Long-range axonal retrograde transport is a key mechanism for the cellular dissemination of neuroinvasive viruses, such as Borna disease virus (BDV), for which entry and egress sites are usually distant from the nucleus, where viral replication takes place. Although BDV is known to disseminate very efficiently in neurons, both in vivo and in primary cultures, the modalities of its axonal transport are still poorly characterized. In this work, we combined different methodological approaches, such as confocal microscopy and biochemical purification of endosomes, to study BDV retrograde transport. We demonstrate that BDV ribonucleoparticles (composed of the viral genomic RNA, nucleoprotein and phosphoprotein), as well as the matrix protein, are transported towards the nucleus into endocytic carriers. These specialized organelles, called signalling endosomes, are notably used for the retrograde transport of neurotrophins and activated growth factor receptors. Signalling endosomes have a neutral luminal pH and thereby offer protection against degradation during long-range transport. This particularity could allow the viral particles to be delivered intact to the cell body of neurons, avoiding their premature release in the cytoplasm.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Borna Disease / metabolism
  • Borna Disease / virology*
  • Borna disease virus / genetics
  • Borna disease virus / metabolism*
  • Cell Nucleus / metabolism
  • Cell Nucleus / virology
  • Endosomes / metabolism
  • Endosomes / virology*
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Neurons / virology*
  • Phosphoproteins / genetics
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • RNA, Viral / metabolism
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Viral Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism
  • Virion / genetics
  • Virion / metabolism


  • Phosphoproteins
  • RNA, Viral
  • Viral Proteins