The poliovirus replication complex (RC), the site of genomic 36S RNA synthesis, was previously shown to contain subviral particles of 5S protomer and 14S pentamer antigenicity. The present investigation demonstrates that 5S/14S antigenic subviral particles can be cross-linked to viral RNA by UV irradiation of a subcellular fraction containing the poliovirus RC. Each capsid protein of the subviral particles, i.e. VP0, VP1 and VP3, was cross-linked to viral RNA. SDS-PAGE analysis of the cross-linked capsid proteins revealed a bandshift for VP1, whereas VP0 migrated in several bands, which were interpreted to be multimers of VP0 linked by short stretches of RNA. It was found that 36S RNA rather than replicative intermediate RNA was cross-linked to capsid proteins. Our results indicate that encapsidation of poliovirus RNA starts in the RC and is initiated by 14S pentamers.


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