Virus Imaging

Select by virus name
About Images
Art Gallery
Covers Gallery
ICTV 8th Color Plates
PS10 Screen Saver   

Virus Structure Tutorials

Triangulation Number
Topography Maps 3D

Virology Links

In the News

- News -
- Video -
- Blogs -
 * Virology Highlights
- Flu & H1N1 - (CDC|WHO)

Journal Contents

Nature Structural & Molecular Biology

Structure & Assembly (J.Virol)
Journal of Virology
J. General Virology
Virology Journal
Virus Genes

Educational Resouces

Video Lectures  NEW 
TextBook  NEW 
Educational Links
Educational Kids


Archived Web Papers

Jean-Yves Sgro
Inst. for Mol.Virology
731B Bock Labs
1525 Linden Drive Madison, WI 53706

Table of Contents for this page:

  • Current Issue
  • Current Issue of Retrovirology

    Retrovirology - Latest Articles

  • TRIM5aamp;#945; is a SUMO substrate

  • Background: The TRIM5α restriction factor interferes with retroviral infections by inhibiting an early step of viral replication. TRIM5α activity was recently proposed to be regulated by the SUMO machinery and one SUMO consensus conjugation site as well as three putative SUMO interacting motifs (SIMs) were identified within TRIM5α sequence. Whereas mutation of the SIM sequences was found to abolish TRIM5α antiviral activity, mutation of the consensus SUMO conjugation site did not affect its restriction capacity, although this putative site has never been shown to be actually a SUMO substrate.FindingsHere we further demonstrate that TRIM5α relies on the SUMO machinery to promote restriction, since SUMO1 overexpression enhances TRIM5α-mediated retroviral inhibition whereas knockdown of SUMO1 or E2 SUMO conjugating enzyme Ubc9 prevents restriction. Furthermore, we show for the first time that TRIM5α is SUMOylated both in vitro and in cellulo and that Lysine 10 is the main SUMOylation site. Mutation of the consensus SUMO conjugation motif in position 10 abrogated SUMOylation at this position, but did not disrupt TRIM5α antiviral activity. Conclusions: Altogether, our results confirm that the SUMO machinery is involved in TRIM5α-mediated retroviral restriction, and demonstrate that TRIM5α is a SUMO 1 and SUMO 2 substrate. The inability to abrogate TRIM5α antiviral activity by mutating its main SUMO conjugation motif supports the notion that non-covalent interaction with SUMO or SUMOylated proteins rather than TRIM5α direct SUMOylation is required.

  • Modulation of human endogenous retrovirus (HERV) transcription during persistent and llt;itggt;de novollt;/itggt; HIV-1 infection

  • Background: The human genome contains multiple LTR elements including human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) that together account for approximately 8–9% of the genomic DNA. At least 40 different HERV groups have been assigned to three major HERV classes on the basis of their homologies to exogenous retroviruses. Although most HERVs are silenced by a variety of genetic and epigenetic mechanisms, they may be reactivated by environmental stimuli such as exogenous viruses and thus may contribute to pathogenic conditions. The objective of this study was to perform an in-depth analysis of the influence of HIV-1 infection on HERV activity in different cell types. Results: A retrovirus-specific microarray that covers major HERV groups from all three classes was used to analyze HERV transcription patterns in three persistently HIV-1 infected cell lines of different cellular origins and in their uninfected counterparts. All three persistently infected cell lines showed increased transcription of multiple class I and II HERV groups. Up-regulated transcription of five HERV taxa (HERV-E, HERV-T, HERV-K (HML-10) and two ERV9 subgroups) was confirmed by quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR analysis and could be reversed by knock-down of HIV-1 expression with HIV-1-specific siRNAs. Cells infected de novo by HIV-1 showed stronger transcriptional up-regulation of the HERV-K (HML-2) group than persistently infected cells of the same origin. Analysis of transcripts from individual members of this group revealed up-regulation of predominantly two proviral loci (ERVK-7 and ERVK-15) on chromosomes 1q22 and 7q34 in persistently infected KE37.1 cells, as well as in de novo HIV-1 infected LC5 cells, while only one single HML-2 locus (ERV-K6) on chromosome 7p22.1 was activated in persistently infected LC5 cells. Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that HIV-1 can alter HERV transcription patterns of infected cells and indicate a correlation between activation of HERV elements and the level of HIV-1 production. Moreover, our results suggest that the effects of HIV-1 on HERV activity may be far more extensive and complex than anticipated from initial studies with clinical material.

  • Identification and characterization of diverse groups of endogenous retroviruses in felids

  • Background: Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are genetic elements with a retroviral origin that are integrated into vertebrate genomes. In felids (Mammalia, Carnivora, Felidae), ERVs have been described mostly in the domestic cat, and only rarely in wild species. To gain insight into the origins and evolutionary dynamics of endogenous retroviruses in felids, we have identified and characterized partial pro/pol ERV sequences from eight Neotropical wild cat species, belonging to three distinct lineages of Felidae. We also compared them with publicly available genomic sequences of Felis catus and Panthera tigris, as well as with representatives of other vertebrate groups, and performed phylogenetic and molecular dating analyses to investigate the pattern and timing of diversification of these retroviral elements. Results: We identified a high diversity of ERVs in the sampled felids, with a predominance of Gammaretrovirus-related sequences, including class I ERVs. Our data indicate that the identified ERVs arose from at least eleven horizontal interordinal transmissions from other mammals. Furthermore, we estimated that the majority of the Gamma-like integrations took place during the diversification of modern felids. Finally, our phylogenetic analyses indicate the presence of a genetically divergent group of sequences whose position in our phylogenetic tree was difficult to establish confidently relative to known retroviruses, and another lineage identified as ERVs belonging to class II. Conclusions: Retroviruses have circulated in felids along with their evolution. The majority of the deep clades of ERVs exist since the primary divergence of felids’ base and cluster with retroviruses of divergent mammalian lineages, suggesting horizontal interordinal transmission. Our findings highlight the importance of additional studies on the role of ERVs in the genome landscaping of other carnivore species.

  • HIV-1 non-macrophage-tropic R5 envelope glycoproteins are not more tropic for entry into primary CD4+ T-cells than envelopes highly adapted for macrophages

  • Background: Non-mac-tropic HIV-1 R5 viruses are predominantly transmitted and persist in immune tissue even in AIDS patients who carry highly mac-tropic variants in the brain. Non-mac-tropic R5 envelopes (Envs) require high CD4 levels for infection contrasting with highly mac-tropic Envs, which interact more efficiently with CD4 and mediate infection of macrophages that express low CD4. Non-mac-tropic R5 Envs predominantly target T-cells during transmission and in immune tissue where they must outcompete mac-tropic variants. Here, we investigated whether Env+ pseudoviruses bearing transmitted/founder (T/F), early and late disease non-mac-tropic R5 envelopes mediated more efficient infection of CD4+ T-cells compared to those with highly mac-tropic Envs. Results: Highly mac-tropic Envs mediated highest infectivity for primary T-cells, Jurkat/CCR5 cells, myeloid dendritic cells, macrophages, and HeLa TZM-bl cells, although this was most dramatic on macrophages. Infection of primary T-cells mediated by all Envs was low. However, infection of T-cells was greatly enhanced by increasing virus attachment with DEAE dextran and spinoculation, which enhanced the three Env+ virus groups to similar extents. Dendritic cell capture of viruses and trans-infection also greatly enhanced infection of primary T-cells. In trans-infection assays, non-mac-tropic R5 Envs were preferentially enhanced and those from late disease mediated levels of T-cell infection that were equivalent to those mediated by mac-tropic Envs. Conclusions: Our results demonstrate that T/F, early or late disease non-mac-tropic R5 Envs do not preferentially mediate infection of primary CD4+ T-cells compared to highly mac-tropic Envs from brain tissue. We conclude that non-macrophage-tropism of HIV-1 R5 Envs in vitro is determined predominantly by a reduced capacity to target myeloid cells via low CD4 rather than a specific adaptation for T-cells entry that precludes macrophage infection.

  • Integrase inhibitor reversal dynamics indicate unintegrated HIV-1 dna initiate llt;itggt;de novollt;/itggt; integration

  • Background: Genomic integration, an obligate step in the HIV-1 replication cycle, is blocked by the integrase inhibitor raltegravir. A consequence is an excess of unintegrated viral DNA genomes, which undergo intramolecular ligation and accumulate as 2-LTR circles. These circularized genomes are also reliably observed in vivo in the absence of antiviral therapy and they persist in non-dividing cells. However, they have long been considered as dead-end products that are not precursors to integration and further viral propagation. Results: Here, we show that raltegravir action is reversible and that unintegrated viral DNA is integrated in the host cell genome after raltegravir removal leading to HIV-1 replication. Using quantitative PCR approach, we analyzed the consequences of reversing prolonged raltegravir-induced integration blocks. We observed, after RAL removal, a decrease of 2-LTR circles and a transient increase of linear DNA that is subsequently integrated in the host cell genome and fuel new cycles of viral replication. Conclusions: Our data highly suggest that 2-LTR circles can be used as a reserve supply of genomes for proviral integration highlighting their potential role in the overall HIV-1 replication cycle.

  • Myocyte enhancer factor (MEF)-2 plays essential roles in T-cell transformation associated with HTLV-1 infection by stabilizing complex between Tax and CREB

  • Background: The exact molecular mechanisms regarding HTLV-1 Tax-mediated viral gene expression and CD4 T-cell transformation have yet to be fully delineated. Herein, utilizing virus-infected primary CD4+ T cells and the virus-producing cell line, MT-2, we describe the involvement and regulation of Myocyte enhancer factor-2 (specifically MEF-2A) during the course of HTLV-1 infection and associated disease syndrome. Results: Inhibition of MEF-2 expression by shRNA and its activity by HDAC9 led to reduced viral replication and T-cell transformation in correlation with a heightened expression of MEF-2 in ATL patients. Mechanistically, MEF-2 was recruited to the viral promoter (LTR, long terminal repeat) in the context of chromatin, and constituted Tax/CREB transcriptional complex via direct binding to the HTLV-1 LTR. Furthermore, an increase in MEF-2 expression was observed upon infection in an extent similar to CREB (known Tax-interacting transcription factor), and HATs (p300, CBP, and p/CAF). Confocal imaging confirmed MEF-2 co-localization with Tax and these proteins were also shown to interact by co-immunoprecipitation. MEF-2 stabilization of Tax/CREB complex was confirmed by a novel promoter-binding assay that highlighted the involvement of NFAT (nuclear factor of activated T cells) in this process via Tax-mediated activation of calcineurin (a calcium-dependent serine-threonine phosphatase). MEF-2-integrated signaling pathways (PI3K/Akt, NF-κB, MAPK, JAK/STAT, and TGF-β) were also activated during HTLV-1 infection of primary CD4+ T cells, possibly regulating MEF-2 activity. Conclusions: We demonstrate the involvement of MEF-2 in Tax-mediated LTR activation, viral replication, and T-cell transformation in correlation with its heightened expression in ATL patients through direct binding to DNA within the HTLV-1 LTR.

  • The CRISPR/Cas9 system inactivates latent HIV-1 proviral DNA

  • Background: Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has transformed HIV-1 infection from a deadly disease to a manageable chronic illness, albeit does not provide a cure. The recently developed genome editing system called CRISPR/Cas9 offers a new tool to inactivate the integrated latent HIV-1 DNA and may serve as a new avenue toward cure.FindingsWe tested 10 sites in HIV-1 DNA that can be targeted by CRISPR/Cas9. The engineered CRISPR/Cas9 system was introduced into the JLat10.6 cells that are latently infected by HIV-1. The sequencing results showed that each target site in HIV-1 DNA was efficiently mutated by CRISPR/Cas9 with the target site in the second exon of Rev (called T10) exhibiting the highest degree of mutation. As a result, HIV-1 gene expression and virus production were significantly diminished with T10 causing a 20-fold reduction. Conclusions: The CRISPR/Cas9 complex efficiently mutates and deactivates HIV-1 proviral DNA in latently infected Jurkat cells. Our results also revealed a highly efficient Cas9 target site within the second exon of Rev that represents a promising target to be further explored in the CRISPR/Cas9-based cure strategy.

  • AZT resistance alters enzymatic properties and creates an ATP-binding site in SFVmac reverse transcriptase

  • Background: The replication of simian foamy virus from macaques can be inhibited by the nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor azidothymidine (AZT, zidovudine). Four substitutions in the protease-reverse transcriptase (PR-RT) protein (K211I, I224T, S345T, E350K) are necessary to obtain highly AZT resistant and fully replication competent virus. AZT resistance is based on the excision of the incorporated AZTMP in the presence of ATP. I224T is a polymorphism which is not essential for AZT resistance per se, but is important for regaining efficient replication of the resistant virus. Results: We constructed PR-RT enzymes harboring one to four amino acid substitutions to analyze them biochemically and to determine their ability to remove the incorporated AZTMP. S345T is the only single substitution variant exhibiting significant AZTMP excision activity. Although K211I alone showed no AZTMP excision activity, excision efficiency doubled when K211I was present in combination with S345T and E350K. K211I also decreased nucleotide binding affinity and increased fidelity. NMR titration experiments revealed that a truncated version of the highly AZT resistant mt4 variant, comprising only the fingers-palm subdomains was able to bind ATP with a K D -value of ca. 7.6 mM, whereas no ATP binding could be detected in the corresponding wild type protein. We could show by NMR spectroscopy that S345T is responsible for ATP binding, probably by making a tryptophan residue accessible. Conclusion: Although AZT resistance in SFVmac is based on excision of the incorporated AZTMP like in HIV-1, the functions of the resistance substitutions in SFVmac PR-RT appear to be different. No mutation resulting in an aromatic residue like F/Y215 in HIV, which is responsible forπ-π-stacking interactions with ATP, is present in SFVmac. Instead, S345T is responsible for creating an ATP binding site, probably by making an already existing tryptophan more accessible, which in turn can interact with ATP. This is in contrast to HIV-1 RT, in which an ATP binding site is present in the WT RT but differs from that of the AZT resistant enzyme.

  • A molecular switch in immunodominant HIV-1-specific CD8 T-cell epitopes shapes differential HLA-restricted escape

  • Background: Presentation of identical HIV-1 peptides by closely related Human Leukocyte Antigen class I (HLAI) molecules can select distinct patterns of escape mutation that have a significant impact on viral fitness and disease progression. The molecular mechanisms by which HLAI micropolymorphisms can induce differential HIV-1 escape patterns within identical peptide epitopes remain unknown. Results: Here, we undertook genetic and structural analyses of two immunodominant HIV-1 peptides, Gag180–188 (TPQDLNTML, TL9-p24) and Nef71–79 (RPQVPLRPM, RM9-Nef) that are among the most highly targeted epitopes in the global HIV-1 epidemic. We show that single polymorphisms between different alleles of the HLA-B7 superfamily can induce a conformational switch in peptide conformation that is associated with differential HLAI-specific escape mutation and immune control. A dominant R71K mutation in the Nef71-79 occurred in those with HLA-B*07:02 but not B*42:01/02 or B*81:01. No structural difference in the HLA-epitope complexes was detected to explain this observation. Conclusions: These data suggest that identical peptides presented through very similar HLAI landscapes are recognized as distinct epitopes and provide a novel structural mechanism for previously observed differential HIV-1 escape and disease progression.

  • An integrated map of HIV genome-wide variation from a population perspective

  • Background: The HIV pandemic is characterized by extensive genetic variability, which has challenged the development of HIV drugs and vaccines. Although HIV genomes have been classified into different types, groups, subtypes and recombinants, a comprehensive study that maps HIV genome-wide diversity at the population level is still lacking to date. This study aims to characterize HIV genomic diversity in large-scale sequence populations, and to identify driving factors that shape HIV genome diversity. Results: A total of 2996 full-length genomic sequences from 1705 patients infected with 16 major HIV groups, subtypes and circulating recombinant forms (CRFs) were analyzed along with structural, immunological and peptide inhibitor information. Average nucleotide diversity of HIV genomes was almost 50% between HIV-1 and HIV-2 types, 37.5% between HIV-1 groups, 14.7% between HIV-1 subtypes, 8.2% within individual HIV-1 subtypes and less than 1% within single patients. Along the HIV genome, diversity patterns and compositions of nucleotides and amino acids were highly similar across different groups, subtypes and CRFs. Current HIV-derived peptide inhibitors were predominantly derived from conserved, solvent accessible and intrinsically ordered structures in the HIV-1 subtype B genome. We identified these conserved regions in Capsid, Nucleocapsid, Protease, Integrase, Reverse transcriptase, Vpr and the GP41 N terminus as potential drug targets. In the analysis of factors that impact HIV-1 genomic diversity, we focused on protein multimerization, immunological constraints and HIV-human protein interactions. We found that amino acid diversity in monomeric proteins was higher than in multimeric proteins, and diversified positions were preferably located within human CD4 T cell and antibody epitopes. Moreover, intrinsic disorder regions in HIV-1 proteins coincided with high levels of amino acid diversity, facilitating a large number of interactions between HIV-1 and human proteins. Conclusions: This first large-scale analysis provided a detailed mapping of HIV genomic diversity and highlighted drug-target regions conserved across different groups, subtypes and CRFs. Our findings suggest that, in addition to the impact of protein multimerization and immune selective pressure on HIV-1 diversity, HIV-human protein interactions are facilitated by high variability within intrinsically disordered structures.
    Return To Top of the Page