P10 is a small, abundant baculovirus protein that accumulates to high levels in the very late stages of the infection cycle. It is associated with a number of intracellular structures and implicated in diverse processes from occlusion body maturation to nuclear stability and lysis. However, studies have also shown that it is non-essential for virus replication, at least in cell culture. Here, we describe the use of serial block-face scanning electron microscopy to achieve high-resolution 3D characterisation of P10 structures within Trichoplusia ni TN-368 cells infected with Autographa californica multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus. This has enabled unparalleled visualisation of P10 and determined the independent formation of dynamic perinuclear and nuclear vermiform fibrous structures. Our 3D data confirm the sequence of ultrastructural changes that create a perinuclear cage from thin angular fibrils within the cytoplasm. Over the course of infection in cultured cells, the cage remodels to form a large polarised P10 mass and we suggest that these changes are critical for nuclear lysis to release occlusion bodies. In contrast, nuclear P10 forms a discrete vermiform structure that was observed in close spatial association with both electron dense spacers and occlusion bodies; supporting a previously suggested role for P10 and electron dense spacers in the maturation of occlusion bodies. We also demonstrate that P10 hyper-expression is critical for function. Decreasing levels of p10 expression, achieved by manipulation of promoter length, correlated with reduced P10 production, a lack of formation of P10 structures and a concomitant decrease in nuclear lysis.
Graves, Leo P.Hughes, Louise C.
Irons, Sarah L.Possee, Robert D.King, Linda A.
Faculty of Health and Life Sciences\Department of Biological and Medical Sciences