The vaccinia virus E6 protein influences virion protein localization during virus assembly.

PMID 25863879


Vaccinia virus mutants in which expression of the virion core protein gene E6R is repressed are defective in virion morphogenesis. E6 deficient infections fail to properly package viroplasm into viral membranes, resulting in an accumulation of empty immature virions and large aggregates of viroplasm. We have used immunogold electron microscopy and immunofluorescence confocal microscopy to assess the intracellular localization of several virion structural proteins and enzymes during E6R mutant infections. We find that during E6R mutant infections virion membrane proteins and virion transcription enzymes maintain a normal localization within viral factories while several major core and lateral body proteins accumulate in aggregated virosomes. The results support a model in which vaccinia virions are assembled from at least three substructures, the membrane, the viroplasm and a "pre-nucleocapsid", and that the E6 protein is essential for maintaining proper localization of the seven-protein complex and the viroplasm during assembly.