A viral nonstructural protein regulates bluetongue virus trafficking and release

Cristina C.P. Celma, Polly Roy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

88 Citations (Scopus)


Bluetongue virus (BTV), a nonenveloped insect-borne virus, is released from infected cells by multiple pathways. Unlike other nonenveloped viruses, in addition to cell lysis the newly synthesized virus particles also appear to use a unique "budding" process. The nonstructural protein NS3, the only membrane protein encoded by BTV in infected cells, has been implicated in this process, since it appears to interact not only with the outermost viral capsid protein VP2 but also with a component of the cellular ESCRT pathway. However, to date it had not been possible to obtain direct evidence for the involvement of NS3 in BTV morphogenesis due to the lack of a genetic system that would allow introducing the targeted mutation in NS3 gene. In this study, we have used the recently developed T7 transcript-based reverse genetics system for BTV to introduce mutations in the sequence of NS3 into the viral genome and have investigated the effect of these mutations in the context of a replicating virus. While certain NS3 mutations exhibited drastic effects on newly synthesized virus release, others had less pronounced effects. In particular, mutations of two residues in the Tsg101 binding motif, the putative L domain of NS3, altered normal virus egress patterns and left nascent particles tethered to the cellular membrane, apparently arrested in the process of budding. In cells infected with a mutant virus that was incapable of an NS3-VP2 interaction, no budding particles were visualized. These data suggest that NS3 may act like the membrane protein of enveloped viruses and is responsible for intracellular trafficking and budding of virus particles. NS3 is thus a bridge between the maturing virion particles and cellular proteins during virus egress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6806-6816
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2009
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'A viral nonstructural protein regulates bluetongue virus trafficking and release'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this