The origin, dynamic morphology, and PI4P-independent formation of encephalomyocarditis virus replication organelles

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Picornaviruses induce dramatic rearrangements of endomembranes in the cells that they infect to produce dedicated platforms for viral replication. These structures, termed replication organelles (ROs), have been well characterized for the Enterovirus genus of the Picornaviridae. However, it is unknown whether the diverse RO morphologies associated with enterovirus infection are conserved among other picornaviruses. Here, we use serial electron tomography at different stages of infection to assess the three-dimensional architecture of ROs induced by encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV), a member of the Cardiovirus genus of the family of picornaviruses that is distantly related. Ultrastructural analyses revealed connections between early single-membrane EMCV ROs and the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), establishing the ER as a likely donor organelle for their formation. These early single-membrane ROs appear to transform into double-membrane vesicles (DMVs) as infection progresses. Both single- and double-membrane structures were found to support viral RNA synthesis, and progeny viruses accumulated in close proximity, suggesting a spatial association between RNA synthesis and virus assembly. Further, we explored the role of phosphatidylinositol 4-phosphate (PI4P), a critical host factor for both enterovirus and cardiovirus replication that has been recently found to expedite enterovirus RO formation rather than being strictly required. By exploiting an EMCV escape mutant, we found that low-PI4P conditions could also be overcome for the formation of cardiovirus ROs. Collectively, our data show that despite differences in the membrane source, there are striking similarities in the biogenesis, morphology, and transformation of cardiovirus and enterovirus ROs, which may well extend to other picornaviruses. IMPORTANCE Like all positive-sense RNA viruses, picornaviruses induce the rearrangement of host cell membranes to form unique structures, or replication organelles (ROs), that support viral RNA synthesis. Here, we investigate the architecture and biogenesis of cardiovirus ROs and compare them with those induced by enteroviruses, members of the well-characterized picornavirus genus Enterovirus. The origins and dynamic morphologies of cardiovirus ROs are revealed using electron tomography, which points to the endoplasmic reticulum as the donor organelle usurped to produce single-membrane tubules and vesicles that transform into double-membrane vesicles. We show that PI4P, a critical lipid for cardiovirus and enterovirus replication, is not strictly required for the formation of cardiovirus ROs, as functional ROs with typical morphologies are formed under phosphatidylinositol 4-kinase type III alpha (PI4KA) inhibition in cells infected with an escape mutant. Our data show that the transformation from single-membrane structures to doublemembrane vesicles is a conserved feature of cardiovirus and enterovirus infections that likely extends to other picornavirus genera.




Melia, C. E., van der Schaar, H. M., de Jong, A. W. M., Lyoo, H. R., Snijder, E. J., Koster, A. J., … Bárcena, M. (2018). The origin, dynamic morphology, and PI4P-independent formation of encephalomyocarditis virus replication organelles. MBio, 9(2).

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