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EMBO J. 1997 Jul 1;16(13):4049-59.

Formation of plant RNA virus replication complexes on membranes: role of an endoplasmic reticulum-targeted viral protein.

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Department of Biology, Texas A & M University, College Station 77843, USA.


The mechanisms that direct positive-stranded RNA virus replication complexes to plant and animal cellular membranes are poorly understood. We describe a specific interaction between a replication protein of an RNA plant virus and membranes in vitro and in live cells. The tobacco etch virus (TEV) 6 kDa protein associated with membranes as an integral protein via a central 19 amino acid hydrophobic domain. In the presence or absence of other viral proteins, fluorescent fusion proteins containing the 6 kDa protein associated with large vesicular compartments derived from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Infection by TEV was associated with a collapse of the ER network into a series of discrete aggregated structures. Viral RNA replication complexes from infected cells were also associated with ER-like membranes. Targeting of TEV RNA replication complexes to membranous sites of replication is proposed to involve post-translational interactions between the 6 kDa protein and the ER.

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