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Virology. 1998 Mar 15;242(2):255-65.

Assembly of viroplasm and virus-like particles of rotavirus by a Semliki Forest virus replicon.

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Department of Virology, Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease Control, Stockholm, Sweden.


In this study we have used an expression system based on Semliki Forest virus (SFV) to study assembly and intracellular localization of certain capsid proteins of rotavirus in neurons and mammalian epithelial cells. The complete genes of vp2 (vp2A) and vp6 (vp6A) of group A rotavirus (SA-11) and gene 5 encoding vp6 (vp6C) of porcine group C rotavirus (strain Cowden/AmC-1) were inserted into an SFV expression replicon. Transfection of BHK-21 cells with in vitro-made SFV transcripts resulted in a high level of expression of the heterologous genes. Cotransfection with helper RNA encoding the SFV structural proteins, but lacking the genomic RNA packing signal, resulted in production of recombinant infectious virus. Immunological and biochemical analysis revealed that vp6 was expressed to high levels in primary neurons and mammalian epithelial cells and that vp6 was retained as an authentic homotrimer, stabilized by noncovalent interactions with native antigenic determinants. Thin section electron microscopy analysis revealed that vp6 alone assembled into viroplasm-like structures in the cytoplasm. While coexpression of vp2 and vp6 of group A rotavirus resulted in formation of single-shelled-like particles, no evidence of intracellular assembly was found, suggesting that other viral proteins are required for intracellular formation of single-shelled particles. A notable observation was that the vp6 proteins of group A and C rotaviruses showed different immunofluorescence patterns in BHK-21 cells; vp6C displayed an intense punctate immunofluorescence pattern, while vp6A was characterized by a pronounced filamentous staining in close vicinity to the cytoskeleton.

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