Cryotomography of budding influenza A virus reveals filaments with diverse morphologies that mostly do not bear a genome at their distal end
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Influenza viruses exhibit striking variations in particle morphology between strains. Clinical isolates of influenza A virus have been shown to produce long filamentous particles while laboratory-adapted strains are predominantly spherical. However, the role of the filamentous phenotype in the influenza virus infectious cycle remains undetermined. We used cryo-electron tomography to conduct the first three-dimensional study of filamentous virus ultrastructure in particles budding from infected cells. Filaments were often longer than 10 microns and sometimes had bulbous heads at their leading ends, some of which contained tubules we attribute to M1 while none had recognisable ribonucleoprotein (RNP) and hence genome segments. Long filaments that did not have bulbs were infrequently seen to bear an ordered complement of RNPs at their distal ends. Imaging of purified virus also revealed diverse filament morphologies; short rods (bacilliform virions) and longer filaments. Bacilliform virions contained an ordered complement of RNPs while longer filamentous particles were narrower and mostly appeared to lack this feature, but often contained fibrillar material along their entire length. The important ultrastructural differences between these diverse classes of particles raise the possibility of distinct morphogenetic pathways and functions during the infectious process.
Vijayakrishnan , S , Loney , C , Jackson , D , Suphamungmee , W , Rixon , F J & Bhella , D 2013 , ' Cryotomography of budding influenza A virus reveals filaments with diverse morphologies that mostly do not bear a genome at their distal end ' PLoS Pathogens , vol 9 , no. 6 , e1003413 . DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1003413
© 2013 Vijayakrishnan et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
This research was funded by the UK Medical Research Council - core funding to the MRC Centre for Virus Research (http://www.mrc.ac.uk/index.htm).
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