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J Virol. 2003 Dec;77(23):12819-28.

Membrane synthesis, specific lipid requirements, and localized lipid composition changes associated with a positive-strand RNA virus RNA replication protein.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Institute for Molecular Virology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53706, USA.


Multifunctional RNA replication protein 1a of brome mosaic virus (BMV), a positive-strand RNA virus, localizes to the cytoplasmic face of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membranes and induces ER lumenal spherules in which viral RNA synthesis occurs. We previously showed that BMV RNA replication in yeast is severely inhibited prior to negative-strand RNA synthesis by a single-amino-acid substitution in the ole1w allele of yeast Delta9 fatty acid (FA) desaturase, which converts saturated FAs (SFAs) to unsaturated FAs (UFAs). Here we further define the relationships between 1a, membrane lipid composition, and RNA synthesis. We show that 1a expression increases total membrane lipids in wild-type (wt) yeast by 25 to 33%, consistent with recent results indicating that the numerous 1a-induced spherules are enveloped by invaginations of the outer ER membrane. 1a did not alter total membrane lipid composition in wt or ole1w yeast, but the ole1w mutation selectively depleted 18-carbon, monounsaturated (18:1) FA chains and increased 16:0 SFA chains, reducing the UFA-to-SFA ratio from approximately 2.5 to approximately 1.5. Thus, ole1w inhibition of RNA replication was correlated with decreased levels of UFA, membrane fluidity, and plasticity. The ole1w mutation did not alter 1a-induced membrane synthesis, 1a localization to the perinuclear ER, or colocalization of BMV 2a polymerase, nor did it block spherule formation. Moreover, BMV RNA replication templates were still recovered from cell lysates in a 1a-induced, 1a- and membrane-associated, and nuclease-resistant but detergent-susceptible state consistent with spherules. However, unlike nearby ER membranes, the membranes surrounding spherules in ole1w cells were not distinctively stained with osmium tetroxide, which interacts specifically with UFA double bonds. Thus, in ole1w cells, spherule-associated membranes were locally depleted in UFAs. This localized UFA depletion helps to explain why BMV RNA replication is more sensitive than cell growth to reduced UFA levels. The results imply that 1a preferentially interacts with one or more types of membrane lipids.

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