We investigated the effect of rabies virus infection on the actin cytoskeleton using various techniques. Confocal microscopic examination of rabies virus-infected neuroblastoma cells at late stages of infection revealed a dramatic decrease in F-actin staining. The results of a fluorimetric assay with pyrenylated actin indicated that purified rabies virus nucleocapsid has no direct action on the kinetics of actin polymerization and only a weak effect on the final extent of polymerization. Video-microscopy experiments with purified components showed that rabies virus nucleocapsid inhibits the actin-bundling effect induced by dephospho-synapsin I, a neuron-specific protein which is known to exert a control on the actin-based cytoskeleton. Thus, the observed decrease in F-actin staining in infected cells might be ascribed to an indirect action of rabies nucleocapsid on the effects of actin-binding proteins such as synapsin I.


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