|Journal of Virology Structure and Assembly|
During the infection cycle of Autographa californica multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus (AcMNPV), two forms of virions are produced, budded virus (BV) and occlusion-derived virus (ODV). Nucleocapsids that form BV have to egress from the nucleus, whereas nucleocapsids that form ODV remain inside the nucleus. The molecular mechanism that determines whether nucleocapsids remain inside or egress from the nucleus is unknown. AC141 (a predicted E3 ubiquitin ligase) and viral ubiquitin (vUbi) have both been shown to be required for efficient BV production. In this study, it was hypothesized that vUbi interacts with AC141, and in addition, that this interaction was required for BV production. Deletion of both ac141 and vubi restricted viral infection to a single cell, and BV production was completely eliminated. AC141 was ubiquitinated by either vUbi or cellular Ubi, and this interaction was required for optimal BV production. Nucleocapsids in BV, but not ODV, were shown to be specifically ubiquitinated by vUbi, including a 100-kDa protein, as well as high-molecular-weight conjugates. The viral ubiquitinated 100-kDa BV-specific nucleocapsid protein was identified as AC66, which is known to be required for BV production and was shown by coimmunoprecipitation and mass spectrometry to interact with AC141. Confocal microscopy also showed that AC141, AC66, and vUbi interact at the nuclear periphery. These results suggest that ubiquitination of nucleocapsid proteins by vUbi functions as a signal to determine if a nucleocapsid will egress from the nucleus and form BV or remain in the nucleus to form ODV.
IMPORTANCE Baculoviruses produce two types of virions called occlusion-derived virus (ODV) and budded virus (BV). ODVs are required for oral infection, whereas BV enables the systemic spread of virus to all host tissues, which is critical for killing insects. One of the important steps for BV production is the export of nucleocapsids out of the nucleus. This study investigated the molecular mechanisms that enable the selection of nucleocapsids for nuclear export instead of being retained within the nucleus, where they would become ODV. Our data show that ubiquitination, a universal cellular process, specifically tags nucleocapsids of BV, but not those found in ODV, using a virus-encoded ubiquitin (vUbi). Therefore, ubiquitination may be the molecular signal that determines if a nucleocapsid is destined to form a BV, thus ensuring lethal infection of the host.
Among the Reoviridae family of double-stranded RNA viruses, only members of the Orbivirus genus possess a unique structural protein, termed VP6, within their particles. Bluetongue virus (BTV), an important livestock pathogen, is the prototype Orbivirus. BTV VP6 is an ATP-dependent RNA helicase, and it is indispensable for virus replication. In the study described in this report, we investigated how VP6 might be recruited to the virus capsid and whether the BTV structural protein VP3, which forms the internal layer of the virus capsid core, is involved in VP6 recruitment. We first demonstrated that VP6 interacts with VP3 and colocalizes with VP3 during capsid assembly. A series of VP6 mutants was then generated, and in combination with immunoprecipitation and size exclusion chromatographic analyses, we demonstrated that VP6 directly interacts with VP3 via a specific region of the C-terminal portion of VP6. Finally, using our reverse genetics system, mutant VP6 proteins were introduced into the BTV genome and interactions between VP6 and VP3 were shown in a live cell system. We demonstrate that BTV strains possessing a mutant VP6 are replication deficient in wild-type BSR cells and fail to recruit the viral replicase complex into the virus particle core. Taken together, these data suggest that the interaction between VP3 and VP6 could be important in the packaging of the viral genome and early stages of particle formation.
IMPORTANCE The orbivirus bluetongue virus (BTV) is the causative agent of bluetongue disease of livestock, often causing significant economic and agricultural impacts in the livestock industry. In the study described in this report, we identified the essential region and residues of the unique orbivirus capsid protein VP6 which are responsible for its interaction with other BTV proteins and its subsequent recruitment into the virus particle. The nature and mechanism of these interactions suggest that VP6 has a key role in packaging of the BTV genome into the virus particle. As such, this is a highly significant finding, as this new understanding of BTV assembly could be exploited to design novel vaccines and antivirals against bluetongue disease.