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SARS coronavirus life cycle image on white

CORONAVIRUS REPLICATION IMAGE ON WHITE. Above image is 600 pixels across the original is 3991 x 3076 pixels

Coronaviruses reproduce in the cytoplasm of cells*. They release their genetic material (RNA) into the cytoplasm where it directs the production of new virus genetic material and virus protein. These components collect together to form new virus particles. These particles travel through the Golgi apparatus, maturing as they do so. The viruses collect in membrane bound sacs and are eventually released onto the surface of the cell in large numbers.

DESCRIPTION OF LIFE CYCLE PICTURE: A coronavirus virion lands on the cell surface at upper right and binds to cell surface receptors using its projecting spikes. It then enters the cell by membrane fusion with the plasma membrane or by receptor mediated endocytosis (a clathrin coated vesicle is seen floating in the region). For more details on the different types of viral entry, please see our viral entry graphic. The viral genome (which is +ve ss RNA, drawn as a yellow string) enters the cytoplasm. The genomic RNA creates a -ve version of itself and so forms a replication complex attached to membrane (the replication complexes are drawn as orange stringy structures attached to bubble like vesicles at mid right). These replication complexes then produce new genomic RNAs and (subgenomic) mRNAs (1, 5, 7 ). mRNAs code for new viral proteins, including N, M & S. The N protein joins the new genomic RNA to form new RNPs (ribonucleoproteins). These RNPs attach to the membrane where S (Spike) proteins and M proteins have previously assembled. The RNP buds into the lumen of the vesicle (lower right) and finally the membrane bound RNP and its radiating spikes detaches and comes to lie free in the lumen as an immature virion. These particles progress up the periphery of the Golgi apparatus, maturing as they do so into a denser and more icosahedral form (3, 4, 6). The new virus particles collect in large vesicles and are finally released onto the cell surface to start the cycle again.

*Although the replication cycle is said to occur in the cytoplasm, the N protein might also target the nucleolus where it could enhance the life cycle in various ways (2, 8). The nucleus is shown in the lower right hand corner of the image and the N protein presumably enters through the nuclear pores (the flower-like structures decorating the surface of the nucleus).

CORONAVIRUSES AND SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome): A new type of coronavirus has been identified as the cause of the emergent disease called Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS. The "SARS Virus" was officially declared the causative agent on 16th April 2003 by the World Health Organisation. The genome for this novel virus was sequenced by various groups just prior to this announcement.

SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) LINKS:

1. Michael M. C. Lai & Kathryn V. Holmes. Coronaviridae: The Viruses and Their Replication. Field's Virology

2. Hiscox JA, Wurm T, Wilson L, Britton P, Cavanagh D, Brooks G. The Coronavirus Infectious Bronchitis Virus Nucleoprotein Localises to the Nucleolus. Journal of Virology Jan 2001: 506-512

3. Risco C, Anton IM, Enjuanes L, Carrascosa JL. The Transmissible Gastroenteritis Coronavirus Contains a Spherical Core Shell Consisting of M and N Proteins. Journal of Virology July 1996:70 : 4773 - 4777

4. Risco C, Muntion M, Enjuanes L, Carrascosa JL. Two Types of Virus-Related Particles Are Found during Transmissible Gastroenteritis Virus Morphogenesis. Journal of Virology May 1998:72 : 4022-4031

5. An S, Maeda A, Makino S. Coronavirus Transcription Early in Infection. Journal of Virology Nov. 1998: 8517-8524

6. Salanueva IJ, Carrascosa JL, Risco C. Structural Maturation of the Transmissible Gastroenteritis Coronavirus. Journal of Virology Oct. 1999:73 : 7952-7964

7. Sethna PB, Brian DA. Coronavirus Genomic and Subgenomic Minus-Strand RNAs Copartition in Membrane-Protected Replication Complexes. Journal of Virology Oct. 1997: 7744-7749

8. Wurm T, Chen H, Hodgson T, Britton P, Brooks G, Hiscox JA. Localisation to the Nucleolous is a Common Feature of Coronavirus Nucleoprotein, and the Protein May Disrupt Host Cell Division. Journal of Virology Oct 2001: 9345-9356

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