Previously reported findings by our group showed that non-structural protein 3 (NS3) of Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) was localized mainly in the JEV-induced convoluted membrane (CM), which has been proposed to originate from rough endoplasmic reticulum (rER), Golgi apparatus or the trans-Golgi network (TGN), and serves as a reservoir for viral proteins during virus assembly. Earlier findings indicated that NS3 of Kunjin virus interacts with microtubules. In addition, one of the Golgi-associated proteins, tumour susceptibility protein 101 (TSG101), associates with microtubules and is required for budding of retroviral particles. To clarify the association of NS3 with microtubules or with TSG101 during JEV assembly, we applied immunofluorescence, co-immunoprecipitation and immunoelectron microscopic methods. Virus infection, as well as transfection with an NS2B-NS3 expression plasmid, induced microtubule rearrangement. When cells were treated with colchicine, which interferes with microtubule polymerization, NS3 still associated with tubulin and TSG101. Furthermore, tubulin and TSG101 were co-localized with NS3 in the CM by immunogold labelling. Our observations indicate that microtubules and TSG101 associate with NS3, which is incorporated into the JEV-induced structure during JEV replication.
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