The mechanism by which poliovirus infects the cell has been characterized by a combination of biochemical and structural studies, leading to a working model for cell entry. Upon receptor binding at physiological temperature, native virus (160S) undergoes a conformational change to a 135S particle from which VP4 and the N terminus of VP1 are externalized. These components interact with the membrane and are proposed to form a membrane pore. An additional conformational change in the particle is accompanied by release of the infectious viral RNA genome from the particle and its delivery, presumably through the membrane pore into the cytoplasm, leaving behind an empty 80S particle. In this report, we describe the generation of a receptor-decorated liposome system, comprising nickel-chelating nitrilotriacetic acid (NTA) liposomes and His-tagged poliovirus receptor, and its use in characterizing the early events in poliovirus infection. Receptor-decorated liposomes were able to capture virus and induce a temperature-dependent virus conversion to the 135S particle. Upon conversion, 135S particles became tethered to the liposome independently of receptor by a membrane interaction with the N terminus of VP1. Converted particles had lost VP4, which partitioned with the membrane. The development of a simple model membrane system provides a novel tool for studying poliovirus entry. The liposome system bridges the gap between previous studies using either soluble receptor or whole cells and offers a flexible template which can be extrapolated to electron microscopy experiments that analyze the structural biology of nonenveloped virus entry
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