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J Virol. 2004 Mar;78(5):2382-93.

The matrix protein of Marburg virus is transported to the plasma membrane along cellular membranes: exploiting the retrograde late endosomal pathway.

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  • 1Institut für Virologie der Philipps-Universität Marburg, D-35037 Marburg, Germany.


VP40, the matrix protein of Marburg virus, is a peripheral membrane protein that has been shown to associate with membranes of multivesicular bodies (MVBs) (L. Kolesnikova, H. Bugany, H.-D. Klenk, and S. Becker, J. Virol. 76:1825-1838, 2002). The present study revealed that VP40 is bound to cellular membranes rapidly after synthesis. Time course studies were performed to trace the distribution of VP40 during the course of expression. First, VP40 was homogenously distributed throughout the cytoplasm, although the majority of protein (70%) was already membrane associated. Next, VP40 accumulated in MVBs and in tubular protrusions emerging from MVBs. Finally, VP40 appeared in a patch-like pattern beneath the plasma membrane. These morphological results were supported by iodixanol density gradient analyses. The majority of VP40-positive membranes were first detected comigrating with small vesicles. VP40 was then shifted to fractions containing endosomal marker proteins, and later, to fractions containing plasma membrane marker proteins. Blocking of protein synthesis by use of cycloheximide at the time when VP40 was mainly associated with the small vesicles did not prevent the redistribution of VP40 to the late endosomes and further to the plasma membrane. The inhibition of intracellular vesicular trafficking by monensin significantly reduced the appearance of VP40 at the plasma membrane. In conclusion, we suggest that the transport of the Marburg virus matrix protein VP40 involves its accumulation in MVBs followed by the redistribution of VP40-enriched membrane clusters to the plasma membrane.

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