Author(s): Kopecky SA, Willingham MC, Lyles DS
Abstract Share this page
Abstract The induction of apoptosis in host cells is a prominent cytopathic effect of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) infection. The viral matrix (M) protein is responsible for several important cytopathic effects, including the inhibition of host gene expression and the induction of cell rounding in VSV-infected cells. This raises the question of whether M protein is also involved in the induction of apoptosis. HeLa or BHK cells were transfected with M mRNA to determine whether M protein induces apoptosis when expressed in the absence of other viral components. Expression of M protein induced apoptotic morphological changes and activated caspase-3 in both cell types, indicating that M protein induces apoptosis in the absence of other viral components. An M protein containing a point mutation that renders it defective in the inhibition of host gene expression (M51R mutation) activated little, if any, caspase-3, while a deletion mutant lacking amino acids 4 to 21 that is defective in the virus assembly function but fully functional in the inhibition of host gene expression was as effective as wild-type (wt) M protein in activating caspase-3. To determine whether M protein influences the induction of apoptosis in the context of a virus infection, the M51R M protein mutation was incorporated onto a wt background by using a recombinant infectious cDNA clone (rM51R-M virus). The timing of the induction of apoptosis by rM51R-M virus was compared to that by the corresponding recombinant wt (rwt) virus and to that by tsO82 virus, the mutant virus in which the M51R mutation was originally identified. In HeLa cells, rwt virus induced apoptosis faster than did rM51R-M virus, demonstrating a role for M protein in the induction of apoptosis. In contrast to the results obtained with HeLa cells, rwt virus induced apoptosis more slowly than did rM51R-M virus in BHK cells. This indicates that a viral component other than M protein contributes to induction of apoptosis in BHK cells and that wt M protein acts to delay induction of apoptosis by the other viral component. tsO82 virus induced apoptosis more rapidly than did rM51R-M virus in both HeLa and BHK cells. These two viruses contain the same point mutation in their M proteins, suggesting that sequence differences in genes other than that for M protein affect their rates of induction of apoptosis.
This article was published in J Virol
and referenced in Advanced Techniques in Biology & Medicine