A hidden gene in astroviruses encodes a viroporin

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Abstract: Human astroviruses are small non-enveloped viruses with positive-sense single-stranded RNA genomes. Astroviruses cause acute gastroenteritis in children worldwide and have been associated with encephalitis and meningitis in immunocompromised individuals. It is still unknown how astrovirus particles exit infected cells following replication. Through comparative genomic analysis and ribosome profiling we here identify and confirm the expression of a conserved alternative-frame ORF, encoding the protein XP. XP-knockout astroviruses are attenuated and pseudo-revert on passaging. Further investigation into the function of XP revealed plasma and trans Golgi network membrane-associated roles in virus assembly and/or release through a viroporin-like activity. XP-knockout replicons have only a minor replication defect, demonstrating the role of XP at late stages of infection. The discovery of XP advances our knowledge of these important human viruses and opens an additional direction of research into their life cycle and pathogenesis.

Article, /631/326/596/2142, /631/326/596/2554, /13/1, /38/91, /14, /14/19, /45/70, article
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Nature Communications
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Nature Publishing Group UK