It has been previously shown that rotavirus triple-layered particles induce permeabilization of liposomes and membrane vesicles. These effects were mediated by one or both of the solubilized outer-capsid proteins, VP4 and VP7. Permeabilization was dependent on trypsin treatment of the viral particles, suggesting that VP4 was involved. To analyse the respective roles of the outer-capsid proteins in this permeabilization process, we have used membrane vesicles loaded with carboxyfluorescein and virus-like particles derived from insect cells co-expressing various sets of capsid proteins. Virus-like particles containing VP2, VP6 and VP7 (VLP2/6/7) are as efficient in permeabilizing vesicles as triple-layered particles. As with double-layered particles, virus-like particles made of VP2 and VP6 had no effect on vesicle permeabilization. Permeabilization of membrane vesicles required trypsinization of the VP7 solubilized from VLP2/6/7. These results show that solubilized and trypsinized VP7 is able to induce membrane permeabilization, independently of the presence of VP4.


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