December 14, 2021

New Publication by Parikshit Bagchi and Xiaofang Liu (Tsai Lab)!

Viruses rearrange host membranes to support different entry steps. Polyomavirus simian virus 40 (SV40) reorganizes the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) membrane to generate focus structures that enable virus ER-to-cytosol escape, a decisive infection step. The molecular architecture of the ER exit site that might illuminate why it is ideally suited for membrane penetration is unknown. Here 3D focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) reconstruction reveals that the ER focus structure consists of multi-tubular ER junctions where SV40 preferentially localizes, suggesting that tubular branch points are virus ER-to-cytosol penetration sites. Functional analysis demonstrates that lunapark—an ER membrane protein that typically stabilizes three-way ER junctions—relocates to the ER foci, where it supports focus formation, leading to SV40 ER escape and infection. Our results reveal how a virus repurposes the activity of an ER membrane protein to form a virus-induced ER substructure required for membrane escape and suggest that ER tubular junctions are vulnerable sites exploited by viruses for membrane penetration.