Journal of virology 2016 12 1691(1) pii e01263-16
Schmallenberg virus (SBV) was discovered in Germany in late 2011 and then spread rapidly to many European countries. SBV is an orthobunyavirus that causes abortion and congenital abnormalities in ruminants. A virus-encoded nonstructural protein, termed NSs, is a major virulence factor of SBV, and it is known to promote the degradation of Rpb1, a subunit of the RNA polymerase II (Pol II) complex, and therefore hampers global cellular transcription. In this study, we found that NSs is mainly localized in the nucleus of infected cells and specifically appears to target the nucleolus through a nucleolar localization signal (NoLS) localized between residues 33 and 51 of the protein. NSs colocalizes with nucleolar markers such as B23 (nucleophosmin) and fibrillarin. We observed that in SBV-infected cells, B23 undergoes a nucleolus-to-nucleoplasm redistribution, evocative of virus-induced nucleolar disruption. In contrast, the nucleolar pattern of B23 was unchanged upon infection with an SBV recombinant mutant with NSs lacking the NoLS motif (SBVΔNoLS). Interestingly, unlike wild-type SBV, the inhibitory activity of SBVΔNoLS toward RNA Pol II transcription is impaired. Overall, our results suggest that a putative link exists between NSs-induced nucleolar disruption and its inhibitory function on cellular transcription, which consequently precludes the cellular antiviral response and/or induces cell death.
Schmallenberg virus (SBV) is an emerging arbovirus of ruminants that spread in Europe between 2011 and 2013. SBV induces fetal abnormalities during gestation, with the central nervous system being one of the most affected organs. The virus-encoded NSs protein acts as a virulence factor by impairing host cell transcription. Here, we show that NSs contains a nucleolar localization signal (NoLS) and induces disorganization of the nucleolus. The NoLS motif in the SBV NSs is absolutely necessary for virus-induced inhibition of cellular transcription. To our knowledge, this is the first report of nucleolar functions for NSs within the Bunyaviridae family.