The nonenveloped polyomavirus simian virus 40 (SV40) must penetrate the host endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane to enter the cytosol in order to promote infection. How this is accomplished is not entirely clear. Here, we demonstrate that the cytosolic chaperone Ubiquilin4 (Ubqln4) binds directly to the ER membrane J proteins B12 and B14. Strategically localized at the ER-cytosol interface, Ubqln4 captures SV40 emerging from the ER, thereby facilitating escape of the virus from the ER into the cytosol, which leads to infection. Strikingly, Ubqln4 engages the J proteins in a J-domain-independent manner, in contrast to the previously reported Hsc70-Hsp105-SGTA-Bag2 cytosolic complex that also mediates SV40 ER-to-cytosol transport. Our results also reveal that the H domain and STI1 motif (1-2) of Ubqln4 support J protein binding, essential for SV40 infection. Together, these data further clarify the molecular basis by which a nonenveloped virus escapes a host membrane during infectious entry.
IMPORTANCE How a nonenveloped virus escapes from a host membrane to promote infection remains enigmatic. In the case of the nonenveloped polyomavirus SV40, penetration of the ER membrane to reach the cytosol is a decisive virus infection step. In this study, we found a new host factor called Ubqln4 that facilitates escape of SV40 from the ER into the cytosol, thereby providing a path for the virus to enter the nucleus to cause infection.