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J Virol. 2013 Feb;87(3):1800-10. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02003-12. Epub 2012 Nov 28.

The GEF1 proton-chloride exchanger affects tombusvirus replication via regulation of copper metabolism in yeast.

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Department of Plant Pathology, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, USA.


Replication of plus-strand RNA viruses [(+)RNA viruses] is performed by viral replicases, whose function is affected by many cellular factors in infected cells. In this paper, we demonstrate a surprising role for Gef1p proton-chloride exchanger in replication of Tomato bushy stunt virus (TBSV) model (+)RNA virus. A genetic approach revealed that Gef1p, which is the only proton-chloride exchanger in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is required for TBSV replication in the yeast model host. We also show that the in vitro activity of the purified tombusvirus replicase from gef1Δ yeast was low and that the in vitro assembly of the viral replicase in a cell extract was inhibited by the cytosolic fraction obtained from gef1Δ yeast. Altogether, our data reveal that Gef1p modulates TBSV replication via regulating Cu(2+) metabolism in the cell. This conclusion is supported by several lines of evidence, including the direct inhibitory effect of Cu(2+) ions on the in vitro assembly of the viral replicase, on the activity of the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, and an inhibitory effect of deletion of CCC2 copper pump on TBSV replication in yeast, while altered iron metabolism did not reduce TBSV replication. In addition, applying a chloride channel blocker impeded TBSV replication in Nicotiana benthamiana protoplasts or in whole plants. Overall, blocking Gef1p function seems to inhibit TBSV replication through altering Cu(2+) ion metabolism in the cytosol, which then inhibits the normal functions of the viral replicase.

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