Browsing by Author "Balistreri, Giuseppe"

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  • Balistreri, Giuseppe (Helsingin yliopisto, 2010)
    Intracellular membrane alterations are hallmarks of positive-sense RNA (+RNA) virus replication. Strong evidence indicates that within these exotic compartments, viral replicase proteins engage in RNA genome replication and transcription. To date, fundamental questions such as the origin of altered membranes, mechanisms of membrane deformation and topological distribution and function of viral components, are still waiting for comprehensive answers. This study addressed some of the above mentioned questions for the membrane alterations induced during Semliki Forest virus (SFV) infection of mammalian cells. With the aid of electron and fluorescence microscopy coupled with radioactive labelling and immuno-cytochemistry techniques, our group and others showed that few hours after infection the four non structural proteins (nsP1-4) and newly synthesized RNAs of SFV colocalized in close proximity of small membrane invaginations, designated as spherules . These 50-70 nm structures were mainly detected in the perinuclear area, at the limiting membrane of modified endosomes and lysosomes, named CPV-I (cytopathic vacuoles type I). More rarely, spherules were also found at the plasma membrane (PM). In the first part of this study I present the first three-dimensional reconstruction of the CPV-I and the spherules, obtained by electron tomography after chemical or cryo-fixation. Different approaches for imaging these macromolecular assemblies to obtain better structure preservation and higher resolution are presented as unpublished data. This study provides insights into spherule organization and distribution of viral components. The results of this and other experiments presented in this thesis will challenge currently accepted models for virus replication complex formation and function. In a revisitation of our previous models, the second part of this work provides the first complete description of the biogenesis of the CPV-I. The results demonstrate that these virus-induced vacuoles, where hundreds of spherules accumulate at late stages during infection, represent the final phase of a journey initiated at the PM, which apparently serves as a platform for spherule formation. From the PM spherules were internalized by an endocytic event that required the activity of the class I PI3K, caveolin-1, cellular cholesterol and functional actin-myosin network. The resulting neutral endocytic carrier vesicle delivered the spherules to the membrane of pre-existing acidic endosomes via multiple fusion events. Microtubule based transport supported the vectorial transfer of these intermediates to the pericentriolar area where further fusions generated the CPV-I. A signal for spherule internalization was identified in one of the replicase proteins, nsP3. Infections of cells with viruses harbouring a deletion in a highly phosphorylated region of nsP3 did not result in the formation of CPV-Is. Instead, thousands of spherules remained at the PM throughout the infection cycle. Finally, the role of the replicase protein nsP2 during viral RNA replication and transcription was investigated. Three enzymatic activities, protease, NTPase and RNA-triphosphatase were studied with the aid of temperature sensitive mutants in vitro and, when possible, in vivo. The results highlighted the interplay of the different nsP2 functions during different steps of RNA replication and sub-genomic promoter regulation, and suggest that the protein could have different activities when participating in the replication complex or as a free enzyme.