The maturation of rubella virus (RV) glycoproteins E2 and E1 was examined by using brefeldin A (BFA) and monensin. BFA, which induces the rapid redistribution of Golgi enzymes residing in the Golgi complex into the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), was used to locate the intracellular site for the modification of carbohydrate side-chains on RV E1 and E2 proteins. The monovalent ionophore monensin, which inhibits intracellular transport of proteins through the ER-Golgi complex, was used to block the transport of E1 and E2 glycoproteins through the Golgi complex. BFA and monensin effectively blocked the cell surface expression of RV E2 and E1 proteins, secretion of an anchor-free form of E2 and budding of RV from the plasma membrane. For -linked glycosylation, addition of -acetylgalactosamine and galactose to E2 protein was found to take place in the medial to the trans Golgi. A dramatic change in the intracellular distribution of RV structural proteins was observed when transfected COS cells were treated with BFA or monensin, although the proteolytic processing of RV structural protein precursor was not affected. In the presence of BFA or monensin, virus release from infected Vero cells was only 0.1% of the intracellular virus, and the intracellular virus titre decreased as well. Our results suggest that -linked glycosylation on the E2 protein occurred in the post-ER region and the transport of RV structural proteins to the Golgi complex and post-Golgi compartment may be a rate-limiting step in RV assembly and budding.


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