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J Virol. 2000 Jun;74(12):5569-76.

Rubella virus capsid associates with host cell protein p32 and localizes to mitochondria.

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Department of Cell Biology, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta T6G 2H7, Canada.


Togavirus nucleocapsids have a characteristic icosahedral structure and are composed of multiple copies of a capsid protein complexed with genomic RNA. The assembly of rubella virus nucleocapsids is unique among togaviruses in that the process occurs late in virus assembly and in association with intracellular membranes. The goal of this study was to identify host cell proteins which may be involved in regulating rubella virus nucleocapsid assembly through their interactions with the capsid protein. Capsid was used as bait to screen a CV1 cDNA library using the yeast two-hybrid system. One protein that interacted strongly with capsid was p32, a cellular protein which is known to interact with other viral proteins. The interaction between capsid and p32 was confirmed using a number of different in vitro and in vivo methods, and the site of interaction between these two proteins was shown to be at the mitochondria. Interestingly, overexpression of the rubella virus structural proteins resulted in clustering of the mitochondria in the perinuclear region. The p32-binding site in capsid is a potentially phosphorylated region that overlaps the viral RNA-binding domain of capsid. Our results are consistent with the possibility that the interaction of p32 with capsid plays a role in the regulation of nucleocapsid assembly and/or virus-host interactions.

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