In common with other positive-strand RNA viruses, replication of feline calicivirus (FCV) results in rearrangement of intracellular membranes and production of numerous membrane-bound vesicular structures on which viral genome replication is thought to occur. In this study, bioinformatics approaches have identified three of the FCV non-structural proteins, namely p32, p39 and p30, as potential transmembrane proteins. These proteins were able to target enhanced cyan fluorescent protein to membrane fractions where they behaved as integral membrane proteins. Immunofluorescence microscopy of these proteins expressed in cells showed co-localization with endoplasmic reticulum (ER) markers. Further electron microscopy analysis of cells co-expressing FCV p39 or p30 with a horseradish peroxidase protein containing the KDEL ER retention motif demonstrated gross morphological changes to the ER. Similar reorganization patterns, especially for those produced by p30, were observed in naturally infected Crandel–Rees feline kidney cells. Together, the data demonstrate that the p32, p39 and p30 proteins of FCV locate to the ER and lead to reorganization of ER membranes. This suggests that they may play a role in the generation of FCV replication complexes and that the endoplasmic reticulum may represent the potential source of the membrane vesicles induced during FCV infection.


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