Plus-stranded RNA viruses induce membrane deformations in infected cells in order to build viral replication complexes (VRCs). Tomato bushy stunt virus (TBSV) co-opts cellular ESCRT (endosomal sorting complexes required for transport) proteins to induce the formation of vesicle (spherule)-like structures in the peroxisomal membrane with tight openings toward the cytosol. In this study, using a yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) vps23Δ bro1Δ double-deletion mutant, we showed that the Vps23p ESCRT-I protein (Tsg101 in mammals) and Bro1p (ALIX) ESCRT-associated protein, both of which bind to the viral p33 replication protein, play partially complementary roles in TBSV replication in cells and in cell extracts. Dual expression of dominant-negative versions of Arabidopsis homologs of Vps23p and Bro1p inhibited tombusvirus replication to greater extent than individual expression in Nicotiana benthamiana leaves. We also demonstrated the critical role of Snf7p (CHMP4), Vps20p, and Vps24p ESCRT-III proteins in tombusvirus replication in yeast and in vitro. Electron microscopic imaging of vps23Δ yeast revealed the lack of tombusvirus-induced spherule-like structures, while crescent-like structures are formed in ESCRT-III deletion yeasts replicating TBSV RNA. In addition, we also showed that the length of the viral RNA affects the sizes of spherules formed in N. benthamiana cells. The 4.8-kb genomic RNA is needed for the formation of spherules 66 nm in diameter, while spherules formed during the replication of the ∼600-nucleotide (nt)-long defective interfering RNA in the presence of p33 and p92 replication proteins are 42 nm. We propose that the viral RNA serves as a “measuring string” during VRC assembly and spherule formation.

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Published in Journal of Virology, v. 90, no. 7, p. 3611-3626.

Copyright © 2016, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.

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This work was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIAID) (grant 1R21AI096323).