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The human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV) fusion (F) protein cytoplasmic tail (CT) and matrix (M) protein are key mediators of viral assembly, but the underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. A complementation assay was developed to systematically examine the role of the F protein CT in infectious virus production. The ability of F mutants with alanine substitutions in the CT to complement an F-null virus in generating infectious progeny was quantitated by flow cytometry. Two CT regions with impact on infectious progeny production were identified: residues 557 to 566 (CT-R1) and 569 to 572 (CT-R2). Substitutions in CT-R1 decreased infectivity by 40 to 85% and increased the level of F-induced cell-cell fusion but had little impact on assembly of viral surface filaments, which are believed to be virions. Substitutions in CT-R2, as well as deletion of the entire CT, abrogated infectious progeny production and impaired viral filament formation. However, CT-R2 mutations did not block but rather delayed the formation of viral filaments, which continued to form at a low rate and contained the viral M protein and nucleoprotein (N). Microscopy analysis revealed that substitutions in CT-R2 but not CT-R1 led to accumulation of M and F proteins within and at the perimeter of viral inclusion bodies (IBs), respectively. The accumulation of M and F at IBs and coincident strong decrease in filament formation and infectivity upon CT-R2 mutations suggest that F interaction with IBs is an important step in the virion assembly process and that CT residues 569 to 572 act to facilitate release of M-ribonucleoprotein complexes from IBs.


Pradyumna S Baviskar, Anne L Hotard, Martin L Moore, Antonius G P Oomens. The respiratory syncytial virus fusion protein targets to the perimeter of inclusion bodies and facilitates filament formation by a cytoplasmic tail-dependent mechanism. Journal of virology. 2013 Oct;87(19):10730-41

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PMID: 23903836

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