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Summary

Lyssavirus matrix proteins (M) support virus budding and have accessory functions that may contribute to host cell manipulation and adaptation to specific hosts. Here, we show that rabies virus (RABV) and European Bat Lyssavirus Type 1 (EBLV-1) M proteins differ in targeting and accumulation at cellular membranes. In contrast to RABV M, EBLV-1 M expressed from authentic EBLV-1 or chimeric RABV accumulated at the Golgi apparatus. Chimeric M proteins revealed that Golgi association depends on the integrity of the entire EBLV-1 M protein. Since RABV and EBLV-1 M differ in the use of cellular membranes for particle formation, differential membrane targeting and transport of M might determine the site of virus production. Moreover, both RABV and EBLV-1 M were for the first time detected within the nucleus and in Negri body-like inclusions bodies. Whereas nuclear M may imply hitherto unknown functions of lyssavirus M in host cell manipulation, the presence of M in inclusion bodies may correlate with regulatory functions of M in virus RNA synthesis. The data strongly support a model in which targeting of lyssavirus M proteins to distinctintracellular sites is a key determinant of diverse features in lyssavirus replication, host adaptation and pathogenesis.