Brefeldin A (BFA) is a macrolide antibiotic that has multiple targets in vesicular transport and blocks membrane traffic between the cis- and trans-Golgi compartments, leading to the disruption of the trans-Golgi apparatus (for a review see Pelham, 1991, Cell 67, 449-451). Consequently, BFA interferes with the maturation of viral glycoproteins and suppresses the formation of infectious viruses that contain a lipid envelope. We report that this antibiotic strongly inhibits poliovirus replication even though this virus lacks a lipid envelope and does not encode any glycoproteins. Addition of BFA from the beginning of poliovirus infection blocks the synthesis of late proteins but has no effect on p220 cleavage, indicating that the input viral RNA is translated to produce active 2Apro. The presence of BFA at later times has no effect on poliovirus protein synthesis, indicating that this step is not a direct target for the antibiotic. Indeed, the target of BFA is viral RNA synthesis, because addition of the antibiotic at any time after poliovirus infection drastically reduces the incorporation of labeled uridine into poliovirus RNA. Both plus- and minus-stranded RNA syntheses are diminished when BFA is present from the beginning of infection, but plus-stranded RNA synthesis is more affected when the inhibitor is added at later times. The replication of poliovirus RNA takes place in close association with membrane vesicles that fill the cytoplasm of the infected cells. Little is known about the origin and function of these vesicles that form part of the viral replication complexes. Our findings suggest that the replication of poliovirus genomes may require the maturation of membranous vesicles from a vesicular compartment that is affected by BFA. The effects of BFA on late protein synthesis by other animal viruses varies according to the virus species examined. Among picornaviruses, rhinoviruses are sensitive to the antibiotic, whereas encephalomyocarditis virus is resistant. A negative-stranded RNA virus such as vesicular stomatitis is blocked by BFA, whereas vaccinia virus, a cytoplasmic DNA virus, is resistant.
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