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Disassociation of the SV40 Genome from Capsid Proteins Prior to Nuclear Entry

Dmitry Kuksin1 and Leonard C Norkin12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Microbiology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, 01003, USA

2 Program in Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA, 01003, USA

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Virology Journal 2012, 9:158  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-9-158

Published: 10 August 2012



Previously, we demonstrated that input SV40 particles undergo a partial disassembly in the endoplasmic reticulum, which exposes internal capsid proteins VP2 and VP3 to immunostaining. Then, in the cytoplasm, disassembly progresses further to also make the genomic DNA accessible to immune detection, as well as to detection by an ethynyl-2-deoxyuridine (EdU)-based chemical reaction. The cytoplasmic partially disassembled SV40 particles retain some of the SV40 capsid proteins, VP1, VP2, and VP3, in addition to the viral genome.


In the current study, we asked where in the cell the SV40 genome might disassociate from capsid components. We observed partially disassembled input SV40 particles around the nucleus and, beginning at 12 hours post-infection, 5-Bromo-2-deoxyuridine (BrdU)-labeled parental SV40 DNA in the nucleus, as detected using anti-BrdU antibodies. However, among the more than 1500 cells examined, we never detected input VP2/VP3 in the nucleus. Upon translocation of the BrdU-labeled SV40 genomes into nuclei, they were transcribed and, thus, are representative of productive infection.


Our findings imply that the SV40 genome disassociates from the capsid proteins before or at the point of entry into the nucleus, and then enters the nucleus devoid of VP2/3.

SV40; Polyomavirus; Nuclear entry