The progressive cytoskeletal alterations of frog virus 3-infected baby hamster kidney (BHK) and fathead minnow (FHM) cells were studied by immunofluorescence and electron microscopy. The virus assembly sites, which contain viral genomes and viral proteins, were detected in the cytoplasm at 4 h (FHM) or 6 h (BHK) and mature virions appeared 2 h later. When infected cells were treated with Triton X-100, the assembly sites were found in association with the cytoskeleton. In infected cells, the number of microtubules progressively decreased but a few microtubules traversing in the vicinity of the assembly sites remained intact. Early in infection, the intermediate filaments retracted from the cell periphery, delimited the forming assembly sites, and remained there throughout infection. We suggest that intermediate filaments are involved in the formation of assembly sites. In addition, the filaments either by themselves or in conjunction with microtubules may anchor the assembly sites near the nucleus. The microfilament bundles (stress fibers) disappeared with the formation of assembly sites, and late in infection many projections containing microfilaments and virus particles appeared at the cell surface. The observation suggests a role for microfilaments in virus release. Taken together, these results provide the first example of a virus-infected cell in which all three cytoskeletal filaments show profound organizational changes and suggest an active participation of the host cytoskeleton in viral functions.

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