During virus particle assembly, the arenavirus nucleoprotein (NP) associates with the viral genome to form nucleocapsids, which ultimately become incorporated into new virions at the cell membrane. Virion release is facilitated by the viral matrix Z protein through its interaction with the cellular endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) machinery. However, the mechanism of nucleocapsid incorporation into virions is not well understood. Here, we demonstrate that ALIX/AIP1, an ESCRT-associated host protein, is required for the incorporation of the NP of Mopeia virus, a close relative of Lassa virus, into Z-induced virus-like particles (VLPs). Furthermore, we show that the Bro1 domain of ALIX/AIP1 interacts with the NP and Z proteins simultaneously, facilitating their interaction, and we identify residues 342 to 399 of NP as being necessary for its interaction with ALIX/AIP1. Our observations suggest a potential role for ALIX/AIP1 in linking Mopeia virus NP to Z and the budding apparatus, thereby promoting NP incorporation into virions
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