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Visualization of Assembly Intermediates and Budding Vacuoles of Singapore Grouper Iridovirus in Grouper Embryonic Cells

by Yang Liu, Bich Ngoc Tran, Fan Wang, Puey Ounjai, Jinlu Wu & Choy L. Hew

Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 18696 (2016)

Iridovirid infection is associated with the catastrophic loss in aquaculture industry and the population decline of wild amphibians and reptiles, but none of the iridovirid life cycles have been well explored. Here, we report the detailed visualization of the life cycle of Singapore grouper iridovirus (SGIV) in grouper cells by cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM) and tomography (ET). EM imaging revealed that SGIV viral particles have an outer capsid layer, and the interaction of this layer with cellular plasma membrane initiates viral entry. Subsequent viral replication leads to formation of a viral assembly site (VAS), where membranous structures emerge as precursors to recruit capsid proteins to form an intermediate, double-shell, crescent-shaped structure, which curves to form icosahedral capsids. Knockdown of the major capsid protein eliminates the formation of viral capsids. As capsid formation progresses, electron-dense materials known to be involved in DNA encapsidation accumulate within the capsid until it is fully occupied. Besides the well-known budding mechanism through the cell periphery, we demonstrate a novel budding process in which viral particles bud into a tubular-like structure within vacuoles. This budding process may denote a new strategy used by SGIV to disseminate viral particles into neighbor cells while evading host immune response.

Read online: Scientific Reports.