Seoul virus is a hantavirus that causes hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS). The virion has a tripartite (S, M, and L) negative-stranded RNA genome, which is characteristic of the family Bunyaviridae. However, the molecular basis of virus replication is not well known. We established a Northern blot hybridization (NB) procedure using digoxygenin-labeled RNA probes, to quantitate the hantaviral plus- and minus-strand RNAs separately. Virus RNA replication was analyzed in infected Vero E6 cells. When the Vero E6 cells were infected with Seoul virus strain KI-83-262 (KI) at m.o.i. = 0.25, the plus-strand RNA was detected within 1 h post-infection (hpi), and the minus-strand RNA was detected subsequently. Using laser confocal microscopy, the nucleocapsid protein (NP) was detected within 2 hpi, and accumulated as scattered granules in the cytoplasm until 24 hpi. In contrast, the G2 protein first appeared at 8 hpi, was immediately transported to the Golgi, and accumulated in the Golgi until 24 hpi. Infectious virus particles were released into the medium at 24 h hpi. These findings indicate that hantavirus RNA replication starts with the appearance of NP at 2 hpi, glycoproteins then accumulate gradually in the Golgi, and virion formation is initiated once the viral RNAs and proteins have accumulated.
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