An investigation into the replication biology of Helicoverpa armigera stunt virus

Short, James Roswell (2011) An investigation into the replication biology of Helicoverpa armigera stunt virus. PhD thesis, Rhodes University.




Tetraviruses are a family of small non-enveloped positive sense RNA viruses that exclusively infect members of the order Lepidoptera. Their replication biology is poorly studied because, with the exception of Providence virus (PrV), tetraviruses are unable to replicate in tissue culture cells. The overall aim of the research described in this thesis was to develop a fundamental understanding of the replication of tetraviruses, focussing on the site of replication within host cells and in particular, the subcellular localisation of the viral replicase. Helicoverpa armigera stunt virus (HaSV, Genus: Omegatetravirus) was chosen for this study because it is the only tetravirus for which the cDNAs have been shown to be infectious. In the absence of tissue culture cell lines susceptible to HaSV infection, the approach was to use confocal fluorescence microscopy to examine the subcellular localisation of the HaSV replicase fused to enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) in mammalian and insect tissue culture cells. The replicase (with EGFP fused at its C-terminus) localised to punctate structures throughout the cytoplasm of transfected HeLa and Sf9 cells. These structures were then shown – using live cell imaging and time lapse photography – to behave similarly to cellular endocytic organelles and fluorescence partially overlapped with membranes containing the late endosomal marker protein CD63. Biochemical fractionation of Sf9 cells expressing the replicase via a recombinant baculovirus (as well as transfected HeLa and Sf9 cells expressing EGFP-replicase fusion proteins) demonstrated that the replicase was strongly associated with detergentresistant membranes (DRMs) in these cells. Deletion analysis of the replicase coding sequence revealed two regions involved in the generation of the punctuate structures. Firstly, the C-terminal half of the replicase RNAdependant RNA polymerase domain was found to be essential for targeting and the tight association with DRMs while the second region, within the Nterminal 44 amino acids, enhanced localisation through a combination of secondary structural elements and sequence-specific functions. A comparative immunofluorescence study on PrV, which replicates as a persistent infection in an insect midgut cell line, showed that the PrV replicase also localised to punctate structures in the cytoplasm. Biochemical fractionation showed that the replicase was also strongly associated with DRMs. This thesis describes the development of new experimental systems for the study of tetravirus replication biology and the data lead to the conclusion that the HaSV replicase associates with DRMs derived from alternate endocytic pathway organelles.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords:RNA viruses, Lepidoptera, Helicoverpa armigera
Subjects:Q Science > QD Chemistry > QD241 Organic chemistry > QD415 Biochemistry
Q Science > QR Microbiology > Virology
Divisions:Faculty > Faculty of Science > Biochemistry, Microbiology & Biotechnology
ID Code:2603
Deposited By: Mrs Carol Perold
Deposited On:16 Apr 2012 10:03
Last Modified:16 Apr 2012 10:03
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