β-Coronaviruses remodel host endomembranes to form double-membrane vesicles (DMVs) as replication organelles (ROs) that provide a shielded microenvironment for viral RNA synthesis in infected cells. DMVs are clustered, but the molecular underpinnings and pathophysiological functions remain unknown. Here, we reveal that host fragile X–related (FXR) family proteins (FXR1/FXR2/FMR1) are required for DMV clustering induced by expression of viral non-structural proteins (Nsps) Nsp3 and Nsp4. Depleting FXRs results in DMV dispersion in the cytoplasm. FXR1/2 and FMR1 are recruited to DMV sites via specific interaction with Nsp3. FXRs form condensates driven by liquid–liquid phase separation, which is required for DMV clustering. FXR1 liquid droplets concentrate Nsp3 and Nsp3-decorated liposomes in vitro. FXR droplets facilitate recruitment of translation machinery for efficient translation surrounding DMVs. In cells depleted of FXRs, SARS-CoV-2 replication is significantly attenuated. Thus, SARS-CoV-2 exploits host FXR proteins to cluster viral DMVs via phase separation for efficient viral replication.

This article is distributed under the terms of an Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike–No Mirror Sites license for the first six months after the publication date (see http://www.rupress.org/terms/). After six months it is available under a Creative Commons License (Attribution–Noncommercial–Share Alike 4.0 International license, as described at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/).
You do not currently have access to this content.