Triatoma virus structural polyprotein expression, processing and assembly into virus-like particles

Rubén Sánchez-Eugenia, Fernando Méndez, Jailson F B Querido, Marcelo de Sousa da Silva, Diego M A Guérin, José F. Rodríguez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


In contrast to the current wealth of structural information concerning dicistrovirus particle structure, very little is known about their morphogenetic pathways. Here, we describe the expression of the two ORFs encoded by the Triatoma virus (TrV) genome. TrV, a member of the Cripavirus genus of the Dicistroviridae family, infects blood-sucking insects belonging to the Triatominae subfamily that act as vectors for the transmission of Trypanosoma cruzi, the aetiological agent of the Chagas disease. We have established a baculovirus-based model for the expression of the NS (non-structural) and P1 (structural) polyproteins. A preliminary characterization of the proteolytic processing of both polyprotein precursors has been performed using this system. We show that the proteolytic processing of the P1 polyprotein is strictly dependent upon the coexpression of the NS polyprotein, and that NS/P1 coexpression leads to the assembly of virus-like particles (VLPs) exhibiting a morphology and a protein composition akin to natural TrV empty capsids. Remarkably, the unprocessed P1 polypeptide assembles into quasispherical structures conspicuously larger than VLPs produced in NS/P1-coexpressing cells, likely representing a previously undescribed morphogenetic intermediate. This intermediate has not been found in members of the related Picornaviridae family currently used as a model for dicistrovirus studies, thus suggesting the existence of major differences in the assembly pathways of these two virus groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)p. 64-73
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of General Virology
VolumeVol. 96
Issue numbern.º 1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2015


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