The Presumed Polyomavirus Viroporin VP4 of Simian Virus 40 or Human BK Polyomavirus Is Not Required for Viral Progeny Release
The minor capsid protein of human BK polyomavirus (BKPyV), VP2, and its N-terminally truncated form, VP3, are both important for viral entry. The closely related simian virus 40 (SV40) reportedly produces an additional truncated form of VP2/3, denoted VP4, apparently functioning as a viroporin promoting progeny release. The VP4 open reading frame is conserved in some polyomaviruses, including BKPyV. In this study, we investigated the role of VP4 in BKPyV replication. By transfecting viral genomes into primary human renal proximal tubule epithelial cells, we demonstrated that unaltered BKPyV and mutants with start codon substitutions in VP4 (VP2M229I and VP2M229A) abolishing putative VP4 production were released at the same level to supernatants. However, during infection studies, VP2M229I and VP2M229A exhibited 90% and 65% reduced infectivity, respectively, indicating that isoleucine substitution inadvertently disrupted VP2/3 function to the detriment of viral entry, while inhibition of VP4 production during late infection was well tolerated. Unexpectedly, and similarly to BKPyV, wild-type SV40 and the corresponding VP4 start codon mutants (VP2M228I and VP2M228A) transfected into monkey kidney cell lines were also released at equal levels. Upon infection, only the VP2M228I mutant exhibited reduced infectivity, a 43% reduction, which also subsequently led to delayed host cell lysis. Mass spectrometry analysis of nuclear extracts from SV40-infected cells failed to identify VP4. Our results suggest that neither BKPyV nor SV40 require VP4 for progeny release. Moreover, our results reveal an important role in viral entry for the amino acid in VP2/VP3 unavoidably changed by VP4 start codon mutagenesis.