Kinetics of poliovirus uncoating in HeLa cells in a nonacidic environment.
Lysis of HeLa cells infected with poliovirus revealed intact virus; 135S particles, devoid of VP4 but containing the viral RNA; and 80S empty capsids. During infection the kinetics of poliovirus uncoating showed a continuous decrease of intact virus, while the number of 135S particles and empty shells increased. After 1.5 h of infection conformational transition to altered particles resulted in complete disappearance of intact virions. To investigate the mechanism of poliovirus uncoating, which has been suggested to depend on low pH in endosomal compartments of cells, we used lysosomotropic amines to raise the pH in these vesicles. In the presence of ammonium chloride, however, the kinetics of uncoating were similar to those for untreated cells, whereas in cells treated with methylamine, monensin, or chloroquine, uncoating was merely delayed by about 30 min. This effect could be attributed to a delay of virus entry into cells after treatment with methylamine and monensin, whereas chloroquine stabilized the viral capsid itself. Thus, elevation of endosomal pH did not affect virus uncoating. We therefore propose a mechanism of poliovirus uncoating which is independent of low pH.
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