Reovirus non-structural protein σ1s is required for the establishment of viremia and hematogenous viral dissemination. However, the function of the σ1s protein during the reovirus replication cycle is not known. In this study, we found that σ1s was required for efficient reovirus replication in SV40-immortalized endothelial cells (SVECs), mouse embryonic fibroblasts, human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs), and T84 human colonic epithelial cells. In each of these cell lines, wild type reovirus produced substantially higher viral titers than a σ1s-deficient mutant. The σ1s protein was not required for early events in the reovirus infection, as no difference in infectivity between the wild type and σ1s-null viruses was observed. However, wild type virus produced markedly higher viral protein levels than the σ1s-deficient strain. The disparity in viral replication did not result from differences in viral transcription or protein stability. We further found that the σ1s protein was dispensable for cell killing and induction of type-1 interferon responses. In the absence of σ1s, viral factory (VF) maturation was impaired, but sufficient to support low levels of reovirus replication. Together, our results indicate that σ1s is not absolutely essential for viral protein production, but rather potentiates reovirus protein expression to facilitate reovirus replication. Our findings suggest that σ1s enables hematogenous reovirus dissemination by promoting efficient viral protein synthesis, and thereby reovirus replication, in cells that are required for reovirus spread to the blood.IMPORTANCEHematogenous dissemination is critical a step in the pathogenesis of many viruses. For reovirus, nonstructural protein σ1s is required for viral spread via the blood. However, the mechanism by σ1s promotes reovirus dissemination is unknown. Here, we identified σ1s as a viral mediator of reovirus protein expression. We found several cultured cell lines in which σ1s is required for efficient reovirus replication. In these cells, wild type virus produced substantially higher levels of viral protein than a σ1s-deficient mutant. The σ1s protein was not required for viral mRNA transcription or viral protein stability. Owing to reduced levels of viral protein synthesized in the absence of σ1s, maturation of viral factories was impaired and significantly fewer viral progeny were produced. Taken together, our findings indicate that σ1s is required for optimal reovirus protein production, and thereby viral replication, in cells required hematogenous reovirus dissemination.
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