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Actin-based motility drives baculovirus transit to the nucleus and cell surface.


Most viruses move intracellularly to and from their sites of replication using microtubule-based mechanisms. In this study, we show that nucleocapsids of the baculovirus Autographa californica multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus undergo intracellular motility driven by actin polymerization. Motility requires the viral P78/83 capsid protein and the host Arp2/3 complex. Surprisingly, the virus directs two sequential and coordinated phases of actin-based motility. Immediately after cell entry, motility enables exploration of the cytoplasm and collision with the nuclear periphery, speeding nuclear entry and the initiation of viral gene expression. Nuclear entry itself requires transit through nuclear pore complexes. Later, after the onset of early gene expression, motility is required for accumulation of a subpopulation of nucleocapsids in the tips of actin-rich surface spikes. Temporal coordination of actin-based nuclear and surface translocation likely enables rapid transmission to neighboring cells during infection in insects and represents a distinctive evolutionary strategy for overcoming host defenses.

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