A fundamental stage in viral infection is the internalization of viral genomes in host cells. Although extensively studied, the mechanisms and factors responsible for the genome internalization process remain poorly understood. Here we report our observations, derived from diverse imaging methods on genome internalization of the large dsDNA Paramecium bursaria chlorella virus-1 (PBCV-1). Our studies reveal that early infection stages of this eukaryotic-infecting virus occurs by a bacteriophage-like pathway, whereby PBCV-1 generates a hole in the host cell wall and ejects its dsDNA genome in a linear, base-pair-by-base-pair process, through a membrane tunnel generated by the fusion of the virus internal membrane with the host membrane. Furthermore, our results imply that PBCV-1 DNA condensation that occurs shortly after infection probably plays a role in genome internalization, as hypothesized for the infection of some bacteriophages. The subsequent perforation of the host photosynthetic membranes presumably enables trafficking of viral genomes towards host nuclei. Previous studies established that at late infection stages PBCV-1 generates cytoplasmic organelles, termed viral factories, where viral assembly takes place, a feature characteristic of many large dsDNA viruses that infect eukaryotic organisms. PBCV-1 thus appears to combine a bacteriophage-like mechanism during early infection stages with a eukaryotic-like infection pathway in its late replication cycle.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology