The involvement of lipid biosynthesis in the replication of Semliki Forest virus (SFV) in HeLa cells has been analyzed by the use of cerulenin, an inhibitor of lipid synthesis. The presence of this agent from the beginning of infection blocks the appearance of viral proteins. However, when the antibiotic is added at later stages of infection it has no effect on protein synthesis, the cleavage of viral proteins and their acylation by palmitic acid. Cerulenin is a powerful inhibitor of viral RNA synthesis, as analyzed by [3H]uridine incorporation, incorporation of PIP]phosphate into viral replication complexes, or Northern blot analysis of viral RNAs hybridized with minus-or plus-stranded riboprobes. Finally, analysis of phospholipids made in SFV-infected cells indicates that viral infection clearly stimulates the synthesis of phosphatidyl choline and modifies the membrane formed as analyzed by sucrose gradient centrifugation. Cerulenin blocks the synthesis of phospholipids and inhibits the formation of new membranes. These results show that, when the synthesis of lipids is blocked by cerulenin, SFV RNA replication is hampered, suggesting that the synthesis of viral RNAs needs continuous lipid synthesis and membrane formation.
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