Internalization of rotavirus in MA104 cells was found to induce coentry of alpha-sarcin, a toxin that inhibits translation in cell-free systems and to which cells are normally impermeable. Entry of the toxin, measured by inhibition of protein synthesis at early times after infection, correlated with virus penetration leading to expression of infectivity, since toxin entry (1) was induced only by trypsin-treated triple-layered virions, to a degree dependent on the toxin and the virus concentration; (2) correlated with the degree of permissivity of different cell lines to rotavirus infection; (3) was inhibited to a similar extent as infectivity by treatment of cells with neuraminidase; and (4) was inhibited by pre- or postadsorption incubation of the virus with neutralizing monoclonal antibodies to VP7 and VP4 (VP8*). Neither the virus infectivity nor the toxin coentry was significantly affected by treatment of cells with bafilomycin A1, an inhibitor of the vacuolar proton ATPase, indicating that both events are independent of the endosomal acid pH. Virus-like particles (VLP), composed of rotavirus proteins 2/6/7/4, but not 2/6/7 or 2/6, were able to induce toxin entry as efficiently as virions. Use of genetically modified VLP in combination with the toxin coentry assay, which measures entry through a productive pathway, should allow identification of the regions of the outer capsid proteins essential for rotavirus penetration.
Copyright 1997 Academic Press.