The process of measles virus (MV) assembly and subsequent budding is thought to occur in localized regions of the plasma membrane, to favor specific incorporation of viral components, and to facilitate the exclusion of host proteins. We demonstrate that during the course of virus replication, a significant proportion of MV structural proteins were selectively enriched in the detergent-resistant glycosphingolipids and cholesterol-rich membranes (rafts). Isolated rafts could infect the cell through a membrane fusion step and thus contained all of the components required to create a functional virion. However, they could be distinguished from the mature virions with regards to density and Triton X-100 resistance behavior. We further show that raft localization of the viral internal nucleoprotein and matrix protein was independent of the envelope glycoproteins, indicating that raft membranes could provide a platform for MV assembly. Finally, at least part of the raft MV components were included in the viral particle during the budding process. Taken together, these results strongly suggest a role for raft membranes in the processes of MV assembly and budding
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