An unexpected link between coronavirus replication and protein secretion in infected cells

June 13, 2008

Coronavirus replication is critically linked to two factors within the early secretory pathway, according to new findings by a team of Dutch researchers that are published June 13th in the open-access journal PLoS Pathogens.

Coronaviruses, a group including the well-known SARS virus, are the causative agents of many respiratory and enteric infections in humans and animals. As with all viruses, virtually every step of their infection cycle depends on host cellular factors.

As the first, most crucial step after their penetration into cells, coronaviruses assemble huge RNA replication "factory" complexes in association with characteristic, newly induced double membrane vesicles. The cellular pathways hijacked by these plus-strand RNA viruses to create these "factories" have thus far not been elucidated.

The researchers, led by Cornelis A. M. de Haan, showed that RNA replication of mouse hepatitis coronavirus (MHV) was inhibited by a drug — brefeldin A — that disrupts the central station in the cell's secretory pathway, the Golgi complex. Consistently, depletion of both the cellular target of brefeldin A, a factor called GBF1, and its downstream target, ARF1, was also shown to negatively affect coronavirus infection.

The researchers conclude that "an intimate association exists between the early secretory pathway and MHV replication." They speculate that, while GBF1 and ARF1 are not involved in the formation of the viral replication structures, they probably play a key role in their maturation or functioning. As this work was limited to the mouse hepatitis coronavirus, an interesting next step would be to study the importance of GBF1 and ARF1 in the replication of other coronaviruses.

Source: Public Library of Science

Explore further: Capturing replication strategies used by SARS viruses in their bid to spread

Related Stories

New research aims to shut down viral assembly line

January 11, 2011

Under the electron microscope, a coronavirus may resemble a spiny sea urchin or appear crownlike, (the shape from which this family of pathogens takes its name). Previously recognized as the second leading cause of the common ...

Scientists identify antivirus system

November 17, 2010

( -- Viruses have led scientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis to the discovery of a security system in host cells.

Recommended for you

How the finch changes its tune

August 3, 2015

Like top musicians, songbirds train from a young age to weed out errors and trim variability from their songs, ultimately becoming consistent and reliable performers. But as with human musicians, even the best are not machines. ...

Machine Translates Thoughts into Speech in Real Time

December 21, 2009

( -- By implanting an electrode into the brain of a person with locked-in syndrome, scientists have demonstrated how to wirelessly transmit neural signals to a speech synthesizer. The "thought-to-speech" process ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.