Role of VP30 Phosphorylation in Ebola Virus Nucleocapsid Assembly and Transport

Yuki Takamatsu, Tomoki Yoshikawa, Takeshi Kurosu, Shuetsu Fukushi, Noriyo Nagata, Masayuki Shimojima, Hideki Ebihara, Masayuki Saijo, Takeshi Noda

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ebola virus (EBOV) VP30 regulates viral genome transcription and replication by switching its phosphorylation status. However, the importance of VP30 phosphorylation and dephosphorylation in other viral replication processes such as nucleocapsid and virion assembly is unclear. Interestingly, VP30 is predominantly dephosphorylated by cellular phosphatases in viral inclusions, while it is phosphorylated in the released virions. Thus, uncertainties regarding how VP30 phosphorylation in nucleocapsids is achieved and whether VP30 phosphorylation provides any advantages in later steps in viral replication have arisen. In the present study, to characterize the roles of VP30 phosphorylation in nucleocapsid formation, we used electron microscopic analyses and live cell imaging systems. We identified VP30 localized to the surface of protrusions surrounding nucleoprotein (NP)forming helical structures in the nucleocapsid, suggesting the involvement in assembly and transport of nucleocapsids. Interestingly, VP30 phosphorylation facilitated its association with nucleocapsid-like structures (NCLSs). On the contrary, VP30 phosphorylation does not influence the transport characteristics and NCLS number leaving from and coming back into viral inclusions, indicating that the phosphorylation status of VP30 is not a prerequisite for NCLS departure. Moreover, the phosphorylation status of VP30 did not cause major differences in nucleocapsid transport in authentic EBOV-infected cells. In the following budding step, the association of VP30 and its phosphorylation status did not influence the budding efficiency of virus-like particles. Taken together, it is plausible that EBOV may utilize the phosphorylation of VP30 for its selective association with nucleocapsids, without affecting nucleocapsid transport and virion budding processes. IMPORTANCE Ebola virus (EBOV) causes severe fevers with unusually high case fatality rates. The nucleocapsid provides the template for viral genome transcription and replication. Thus, understanding the regulatory mechanism behind its formation is important for the development of novel therapeutic approaches. Previously, we established a live-cell imaging system based on the ectopic expression of viral fluorescent fusion proteins, allowing the visualization and characterization of intracytoplasmic transport of nucleocapsid-like structures. EBOV VP30 is an essential transcriptional factor for viral genome synthesis, and, although its role in viral genome transcription and replication is well understood, the functional importance of VP30 phosphorylation in assembly of nucleocapsids is still unclear. Our work determines the localization of VP30 at the surface of ruffled nucleocapsids, which differs from the localization of polymerase in EBOV-infected cells. This study sheds light on the novel role of VP30 phosphorylation in nucleocapsid assembly, which is an important prerequisite for virion formation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Ebola virus
  • VP30
  • assembly
  • nucleocapsid
  • nucleocapsid-like structure
  • phosphorylation
  • transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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