Authors: Moona Huttunen, Artur Yakimovich, Ian J. White, Janos Kriston-Vizi, Juan Martin-Serrano, Wesley I. Sundquist, Jason Mercer
Unlike most enveloped viruses, poxvirus egress is a complex process whereby cytoplasmic single membrane-bound virions are wrapped in a cell-derived double membrane. These triple membrane-bound particles, termed intracellular enveloped virions (IEVs), are then released from infected cells by fusion. While the wrapping double membrane is thought to be derived from virus-modified trans-Golgi or early endosomal cisternae, the cellular factors that regulate virus wrapping remain largely undefined. To identify novel cell factors required for this process the prototypic poxvirus, vaccinia virus (VACV), was subjected to a high-throughput RNAi screen directed against cellular membrane trafficking proteins. Focusing on the endosomal sorting complexes required for transport (ESCRT), we demonstrate that ESCRT-III and VPS4 are required for packaging of virus into multivesicular bodies (MVBs). EM-based characterization of these MVB-IEVs showed that they account for half of IEV production indicating that MVBs serve as a second major source of VACV wrapping membrane. These data support a model whereby, in addition to cisternae-based wrapping, VACV hijacks ESCRT-mediated MVB formation to facilitate virus egress and spread.