|Journal of Virology Structure and Assembly|
Recently, interferon-induced transmembrane proteins (IFITMs) have been identified to be key effector molecules in the host type I interferon defense system. The invasion of host cells by a large range of RNA viruses is inhibited by IFITMs during the entry step. However, the roles of IFITMs in DNA virus infections have not been studied in detail. In this study, we report that human cytomegalovirus (HCMV), a large human DNA virus, exploits IFITMs to facilitate the formation of the virion assembly compartment (vAC) during infection of human fibroblasts. We found that IFITMs were expressed constitutively in human embryonic lung fibroblasts (MRC5 cells). HCMV infection inhibited IFITM protein accumulation in the later stages of infection. Overexpression of an IFITM protein in MRC5 cells slightly enhanced HCMV production and knockdown of IFITMs by RNA interference reduced the virus titer by about 100-fold on day 8 postinfection, according to the findings of a virus yield assay at a low multiplicity of infection. Virus gene expression and DNA synthesis were not affected, but the typical round structure of the vAC was not formed after the suppression of IFITMs, thereby resulting in defective virion assembly and the production of less infectious virion particles. Interestingly, the replication of herpes simplex virus, a human herpesvirus that is closely related to HCMV, was not affected by the suppression of IFITMs in MRC5 cells. These results indicate that IFITMs are involved in a specific pathway required for HCMV replication.
IMPORTANCE HCMV is known to repurpose the interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs) viperin and tetherin to facilitate its replication. Our results expand the range of ISGs that can be exploited by HCMV for its replication. This is also the first report of a proviral function of IFITMs in DNA virus replication. In addition, whereas previous studies showed that IFITMs modulate virus entry, which is a very early stage in the virus life cycle, we identified a new function of IFITMs during the very late stage of virus replication, i.e., virion assembly. Virus entry and assembly both involve vesicle transport and membrane fusion; thus, a common biochemical activity of IFITMs is likely to be involved. Therefore, our findings may provide a new platform for dissecting the molecular mechanism of action of IFITMs during the blocking or enhancement of virus infection, which are under intense investigation in this field.
The alphaherpesvirus UL51 protein is a tegument component that interacts with the viral glycoprotein E and functions at multiple steps in virus assembly and spread in epithelial cells. We show here that pUL51 forms a complex in infected cells with another conserved tegument protein, pUL7. This complex can form in the absence of other viral proteins and is largely responsible for recruitment of pUL7 to cytoplasmic membranes and into the virion tegument. Incomplete colocalization of pUL51 and pUL7 in infected cells, however, suggests that a significant fraction of the population of each protein is not complexed with the other and that they may accomplish independent functions.
IMPORTANCE The ability of herpesviruses to spread from cell to cell in the face of an immune response is critical for disease and shedding following reactivation from latency. Cell-to-cell spread is a conserved ability of herpesviruses, and the identification of conserved viral genes that mediate this process will aid in the design of attenuated vaccines and of novel therapeutics. The conserved UL51 gene of herpes simplex virus 1 plays important roles in cell-to-cell spread and in virus assembly in the cytoplasm, both of which likely depend on specific interactions with other viral and cellular proteins. Here we identify one of those interactions with the product of another conserved herpesvirus gene, UL7, and show that formation of this complex mediates recruitment of UL7 to membranes and to the virion.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) capsid proteins (Cps) assemble around the pregenomic RNA (pgRNA) and viral reverse transcriptase (P). pgRNA is then reverse transcribed to double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) within the capsid. The Cp assembly domain, which forms the shell of the capsid, regulates assembly kinetics and capsid stability. The Cp, via its nucleic acid-binding C-terminal domain, also affects nucleic acid organization. We hypothesize that the structure of the capsid may also have a direct effect on nucleic acid processing. Using structure-guided design, we made a series of mutations at the interface between Cp subunits that change capsid assembly kinetics and thermodynamics in a predictable manner. Assembly in cell culture mirrored in vitro activity. However, all of these mutations led to defects in pgRNA packaging. The amount of first-strand DNA synthesized was roughly proportional to the amount of RNA packaged. However, the synthesis of second-strand DNA, which requires two template switches, was not supported by any of the substitutions. These data demonstrate that the HBV capsid is far more than an inert container, as mutations in the assembly domain, distant from packaged nucleic acid, affect reverse transcription. We suggest that capsid molecular motion plays a role in regulating genome replication.
IMPORTANCE The hepatitis B virus (HBV) capsid plays a central role in the virus life cycle and has been studied as a potential antiviral target. The capsid protein (Cp) packages the viral pregenomic RNA (pgRNA) and polymerase to form the HBV core. The role of the capsid in subsequent nucleic acid metabolism is unknown. Here, guided by the structure of the capsid with bound antiviral molecules, we designed Cp mutants that enhanced or attenuated the assembly of purified Cp in vitro. In cell culture, assembly of mutants was consistent with their in vitro biophysical properties. However, all of these mutations inhibited HBV replication. Specifically, changing the biophysical chemistry of Cp caused defects in pgRNA packaging and synthesis of the second strand of DNA. These results suggest that the HBV Cp assembly domain potentially regulates reverse transcription, extending the activities of the capsid protein beyond its presumed role as an inert compartment.
The crystal structure of the F protein (prefusion form) of the paramyxovirus parainfluenza virus 5 (PIV5) WR isolate was determined. We investigated the basis by which point mutations affect fusion in PIV5 isolates W3A and WR, which differ by two residues in the F ectodomain. The P22 stabilizing site acts through a local conformational change and a hydrophobic pocket interaction, whereas the S443 destabilizing site appears sensitive to both conformational effects and amino acid charge/polarity changes.