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J Virol. 2015 Apr;89(8):4058-68. doi: 10.1128/JVI.03574-14. Epub 2015 Jan 28.

The endoplasmic reticulum membrane J protein C18 executes a distinct role in promoting simian virus 40 membrane penetration.

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Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.
Biology Department, Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA.
Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA


The nonenveloped simian virus 40 (SV40) hijacks the three endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane-bound J proteins B12, B14, and C18 to escape from the ER into the cytosol en route to successful infection. How C18 controls SV40 ER-to-cytosol membrane penetration is the least understood of these processes. We previously found that SV40 triggers B12 and B14 to reorganize into discrete puncta in the ER membrane called foci, structures postulated to represent the cytosol entry site (C. P. Walczak, M. S. Ravindran, T. Inoue, and B. Tsai, PLoS Pathog 10: e1004007, 2014). We now find that SV40 also recruits C18 to the virus-induced B12/B14 foci. Importantly, the C18 foci harbor membrane penetration-competent SV40, further implicating this structure as the membrane penetration site. Consistent with this, a mutant SV40 that cannot penetrate the ER membrane and promote infection fails to induce C18 foci. C18 also regulates the recruitment of B12/B14 into the foci. In contrast to B14, C18's cytosolic Hsc70-binding J domain, but not the lumenal domain, is essential for its targeting to the foci; this J domain likewise is necessary to support SV40 infection. Knockdown-rescue experiments reveal that C18 executes a role that is not redundant with those of B12/B14 during SV40 infection. Collectively, our data illuminate C18's contribution to SV40 ER membrane penetration, strengthening the idea that SV40-triggered foci are critical for cytosol entry.


Polyomaviruses (PyVs) cause devastating human diseases, particularly in immunocompromised patients. As this virus family continues to be a significant human pathogen, clarifying the molecular basis of their cellular entry pathway remains a high priority. To infect cells, PyV traffics from the cell surface to the ER, where it penetrates the ER membrane to reach the cytosol. In the cytosol, the virus moves to the nucleus to cause infection. ER-to-cytosol membrane penetration is a critical yet mysterious infection step. In this study, we clarify the role of an ER membrane protein called C18 in mobilizing the simian PyV SV40, a PyV archetype, from the ER into the cytosol. Our findings also support the hypothesis that SV40 induces the formation of punctate structures in the ER membrane, called foci, that serve as the portal for cytosol entry of the virus.

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