During the entry of poliovirus into cells, a conformational transition occurs within the virion that is dependent upon its binding to the cell surface receptor. This conformational rearrangement generates an altered particle of 135S, results in the extrusion of capsid protein VP4 and the amino terminus of VP1 from the virion interior, and leads to the acquisition of membrane-binding properties by the 135S particle. Although the subsequent fate of VP4 is unknown, its apparent absence from purified 135S particles has long suggested that VP4 is not directly involved during virus entry. We report here the construction by site-specific mutagenesis of a nonviable VP4 mutant that upon transfection of the cDNA appears to form mature virus particles. These particles, upon interaction with the cellular receptor, undergo the 135S conformational transition but are defective at a subsequent stage in virus entry. The results demonstrate that the participation of VP4 is required during cell entry of poliovirus. In addition, these data indicate the existence of additional stages in the cell entry process beyond receptor binding and the transition to 135S particles. These post-135S stages must include the poorly understood processes by which nonenveloped viruses cross the cell membrane, uncoat, and deliver their genomes into the cytoplasm
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