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

Current Papers in Structure and Assembly (Journal of Virology)

Journal of Virology Structure and Assembly

  • ORF33 and ORF38 of Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus Interact and Are Required for Optimal Production of Infectious Progeny Viruses [Structure and Assembly]

  • We recently showed that the interaction between Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) tegument proteins ORF33 and ORF45 is crucial for progeny virion production, but the exact functions of KSHV ORF33 during lytic replication were unknown (J. Gillen, W. Li, Q. Liang, D. Avey, J. Wu, F. Wu, J. Myoung, and F. Zhu, J Virol 89:4918nndash;4931, 2015, http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.02925-14). Therefore, here we investigated the relationship between ORF33 and ORF38, whose counterparts in both alpha- and betaherpesviruses interact with each other. Using specific monoclonal antibodies, we found that both proteins are expressed during the late lytic cycle with similar kinetics and that both are present in mature virions as components of the tegument. Furthermore, we confirmed that ORF33 interacts with ORF38. Interestingly, we observed that ORF33 tightly associates with the capsid, whereas ORF38 associates with the envelope. We generated ORF33-null, ORF38-null, and double-null mutants and found that these mutants apparently have identical phenotypes: the mutations caused no apparent effect on viral gene expression but reduced the yield of progeny virion by about 10-fold. The progeny virions also lack certain virion component proteins, including ORF45. During viral lytic replication, the virions associate with cytoplasmic vesicles. We also observed that ORF38 associates with the membranes of vesicles and colocalizes with the Golgi membrane or early endosome membrane. Further analyses of ORF33/ORF38 mutants revealed the reduced production of virion-containing vesicles, suggesting that ORF33 and ORF38 are involved in the transport of newly assembled viral particles into cytoplasmic vesicles, a process important for viral maturation and egress.

    IMPORTANCE Herpesvirus assembly is an essential step in virus propagation that leads to the generation of progeny virions. It is a complicated process that depends on the delicate regulation of interactions among virion proteins. We previously revealed an essential role of ORF45-ORF33 binding for virus assembly. Here, we report that ORF33 and its binding partner, ORF38, are required for infectious virus production due to their important role in the tegumentation process. Moreover, we found that both ORF33 and ORF38 are involved in the transportation of virions through vesicles during maturation and egress. Our results provide new insights into the important roles of ORF33 and ORF38 during viral assembly, a process critical for virus propagation that is intimately linked to KSHV pathobiology.

  • Dimerization of the SP1 Region of HIV-1 Gag Induces a Helical Conformation and Association into Helical Bundles: Implications for Particle Assembly [Structure and Assembly]

  • HIV-1 immature particle (virus-like particle [VLP]) assembly is mediated largely by interactions between the capsid (CA) domains of Gag molecules but is facilitated by binding of the nucleocapsid (NC) domain to nucleic acid. We previously investigated the role of SP1, a "spacer" between CA and NC, in VLP assembly. We found that small changes in SP1 drastically disrupt assembly and that a peptide representing the sequence around the CA-SP1 junction is helical at high but not low concentrations. We suggested that by virtue of such a concentration-dependent change, this region could act as a molecular switch to activate HIV-1 Gag for VLP assembly. A leucine zipper domain can replace NC in Gag and still lead to the efficient assembly of VLPs. We find that SP1 mutants also disrupt assembly by these Gag-Zip proteins and have now studied a small fragment of this Gag-Zip protein, i.e., the CA-SP1 junction region fused to a leucine zipper. Dimerization of the zipper places SP1 at a high local concentration, even at low total concentrations. In this context, the CA-SP1 junction region spontaneously adopts a helical conformation, and the proteins associate into tetramers. Tetramerization requires residues from both CA and SP1. The data suggest that once this region becomes helical, its propensity to self-associate could contribute to Gag-Gag interactions and thus to particle assembly. There is complete congruence between CA/SP1 sequences that promote tetramerization when fused to zippers and those that permit the proper assembly of full-length Gag; thus, equivalent interactions apparently participate in VLP assembly and in SP1-Zip tetramerization.

    IMPORTANCE Assembly of HIV-1 Gag into virus-like particles (VLPs) appears to require an interaction with nucleic acid, but replacement of its principal nucleic acid-binding domain with a dimerizing leucine zipper domain leads to the assembly of RNA-free VLPs. It has not been clear how dimerization triggers assembly. Results here show that the SP1 region spontaneously switches to a helical state when fused to a leucine zipper and that these helical molecules further associate into tetramers, mediated by interactions between hydrophobic faces of the helices. Thus, the correct juxtaposition of the SP1 region makes it "association competent." Residues from both capsid and SP1 contribute to tetramerization, while mutations disrupting proper assembly in Gag also prevent tetramerization. Thus, this region is part of an associating interface within Gag, and its intermolecular interactions evidently help stabilize the immature Gag lattice. These interactions are disrupted by proteolysis of the CA-SP1 junction during virus maturation.

  • Antibody Binding Modulates Conformational Exchange in Domain III of Dengue Virus E Protein [Structure and Assembly]

  • Domain III of dengue virus E protein (DIII) participates in the recognition of cell receptors and in structural rearrangements required for membrane fusion and ultimately viral infection; furthermore, it contains epitopes for neutralizing antibodies and has been considered a potential vaccination agent. In this work, we addressed various structural aspects of DIII and their relevance for both the dengue virus infection mechanism and antibody recognition. We provided a dynamic description of DIII at physiological and endosomal pHs and in complex with the neutralizing human antibody DV32.6. We observed conformational exchange in the isolated DIII, in regions important for the packing of E protein dimers on the virus surface. This conformational diversity is likely to facilitate the partial detachment of DIII from the other E protein domains, which is required to achieve fusion to the host cellular membranes and to expose the epitopes of many anti-DIII antibodies. A comparison of DIII of two dengue virus serotypes revealed many common features but also some possibly unexpected differences. Antibody binding to DIII of dengue virus serotype 4 attenuated the conformational exchange in the epitope region but, surprisingly, generated exchange in other parts of DIII through allosteric effects.

    IMPORTANCE Many studies have provided extensive structural information on the E protein and particularly on DIII, also in complex with antibodies. However, there is very scarce information regarding the molecular dynamics of DIII, and almost nothing is available on the dynamic effect of antibody binding, especially at the quantitative level. This work provides one of the very rare descriptions of the effect of antibody binding on antigen dynamics.

  • Equine Infectious Anemia Virus Gag Assembly and Export Are Directed by Matrix Protein through trans-Golgi Networks and Cellular Vesicles [Structure and Assembly]

  • Gag intracellular assembly and export are very important processes for lentiviruses replication. Previous studies have demonstrated that equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV) matrix (MA) possesses distinct phosphoinositide affinity compared with HIV-1 MA and that phosphoinositide-mediated targeting to peripheral and internal membranes is a critical factor in EIAV assembly and release. In this study, we compared the cellular assembly sites of EIAV and HIV-1. We observed that the assembly of EIAV particles occurred on interior cellular membranes, while HIV-1 was targeted to the plasma membrane (PM) for assembly. Then, we determined that W7 and K9 in the EIAV MA N terminus were essential for Gag assembly and release but did not affect the cellular distribution of Gag. The replacement of EIAV MA with HIV-1 MA directed chimeric Gag to the PM but severely impaired Gag release. MA structural analysis indicated that the EIAV and HIV-1 MAs had similar spatial structures but that helix 1 of the EIAV MA was closer to loop 2. Further investigation indicated that EIAV Gag accumulated in the trans-Golgi network (TGN) but not the early and late endosomes. The 9 N-terminal amino acids of EIAV MA harbored the signal that directed Gag to the TGN membrane system. Additionally, we demonstrated that EIAV particles were transported to the extracellular space by the cellular vesicle system. This type of EIAV export was not associated with multivesicular bodies or microtubule depolymerization but could be inhibited by the actin-depolymerizing drug cytochalasin D, suggesting that dynamic actin depolymerization may be associated with EIAV production.

    IMPORTANCE In previous studies, EIAV Gag was reported to localize to both the cell interior and the plasma membrane. Here, we demonstrate that EIAV likely uses the TGN as the assembly site in contrast to HIV-1, which is targeted to the PM for assembly. These distinct assembly features are determined by the MA domain. We also identified two sites in the N terminus of EIAV MA that were important for Gag assembly and release. Furthermore, the observation of EIAV transport by cellular vesicles but not by multivesicular bodies sheds light on the mechanisms underlying EIAV cellular replication.

  • Crystal Structure of Marburg Virus VP40 Reveals a Broad, Basic Patch for Matrix Assembly and a Requirement of the N-Terminal Domain for Immunosuppression [Structure and Assembly]

  • Marburg virus (MARV), a member of the filovirus family, causes severe hemorrhagic fever with up to 90% lethality. MARV matrix protein VP40 is essential for assembly and release of newly copied viruses and also suppresses immune signaling in the infected cell. Here we report the crystal structure of MARV VP40. We found that MARV VP40 forms a dimer in solution, mediated by N-terminal domains, and that formation of this dimer is essential for budding of virus-like particles. We also found the N-terminal domain to be necessary and sufficient for immune antagonism. The C-terminal domains of MARV VP40 are dispensable for immunosuppression but are required for virus assembly. The C-terminal domains are only 16% identical to those of Ebola virus, differ in structure from those of Ebola virus, and form a distinct broad and flat cationic surface that likely interacts with the cell membrane during virus assembly.

    IMPORTANCE Marburg virus, a cousin of Ebola virus, causes severe hemorrhagic fever, with up to 90% lethality seen in recent outbreaks. Molecular structures and visual images of the proteins of Marburg virus are essential for the development of antiviral drugs. One key protein in the Marburg virus life cycle is VP40, which both assembles the virus and suppresses the immune system. Here we provide the molecular structure of Marburg virus VP40, illustrate differences from VP40 of Ebola virus, and reveal surfaces by which Marburg VP40 assembles progeny and suppresses immune function.

  • Crystal Structure of Feline Infectious Peritonitis Virus Main Protease in Complex with Synergetic Dual Inhibitors [Structure and Assembly]

  • Coronaviruses (CoVs) can cause highly prevalent diseases in humans and animals. Feline infectious peritonitis virus (FIPV) belongs to the genus Alphacoronavirus, resulting in a lethal systemic granulomatous disease called feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), which is one of the most important fatal infectious diseases of cats worldwide. No specific vaccines or drugs have been approved to treat FIP. CoV main proteases (Mpros) play a pivotal role in viral transcription and replication, making them an ideal target for drug development. Here, we report the crystal structure of FIPV Mpro in complex with dual inhibitors, a zinc ion and a Michael acceptor. The complex structure elaborates a unique mechanism of two distinct inhibitors synergizing to inactivate the protease, providing a structural basis to design novel antivirals and suggesting the potential to take advantage of zinc as an adjunct therapy against CoV-associated diseases.

    IMPORTANCE Coronaviruses (CoVs) have the largest genome size among all RNA viruses. CoV infection causes various diseases in humans and animals, including severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS). No approved specific drugs or vaccinations are available to treat their infections. Here, we report a novel dual inhibition mechanism targeting CoV main protease (Mpro) from feline infectious peritonitis virus (FIPV), which leads to lethal systemic granulomatous disease in cats. Mpro, conserved across all CoV genomes, is essential for viral replication and transcription. We demonstrated that zinc ion and a Michael acceptor-based peptidomimetic inhibitor synergistically inactivate FIPV Mpro. We also solved the structure of FIPV Mpro complexed with two inhibitors, delineating the structural view of a dual inhibition mechanism. Our study provides new insight into the pharmaceutical strategy against CoV Mpro through using zinc as an adjuvant therapy to enhance the efficacy of an irreversible peptidomimetic inhibitor.

  • Mutations of Conserved Residues in the Major Homology Region Arrest Assembling HIV-1 Gag as a Membrane-Targeted Intermediate Containing Genomic RNA and Cellular Proteins [Structure and Assembly]

  • The major homology region (MHR) is a highly conserved motif that is found within the Gag protein of all orthoretroviruses and some retrotransposons. While it is widely accepted that the MHR is critical for assembly of HIV-1 and other retroviruses, how the MHR functions and why it is so highly conserved are not understood. Moreover, consensus is lacking on when HIV-1 MHR residues function during assembly. Here, we first addressed previous conflicting reports by confirming that MHR deletion, like conserved MHR residue substitution, leads to a dramatic reduction in particle production in human and nonhuman primate cells expressing HIV-1 proviruses. Next, we used biochemical analyses and immunoelectron microscopy to demonstrate that conserved residues in the MHR are required after assembling Gag has associated with genomic RNA, recruited critical host factors involved in assembly, and targeted to the plasma membrane. The exact point of inhibition at the plasma membrane differed depending on the specific mutation, with one MHR mutant arrested as a membrane-associated intermediate that is stable upon high-salt treatment and other MHR mutants arrested as labile, membrane-associated intermediates. Finally, we observed the same assembly-defective phenotypes when the MHR deletion or conserved MHR residue substitutions were engineered into Gag from a subtype B, lab-adapted provirus or Gag from a subtype C primary isolate that was codon optimized. Together, our data support a model in which MHR residues act just after membrane targeting, with some MHR residues promoting stability and another promoting multimerization of the membrane-targeted assembling Gag oligomer.

    IMPORTANCE The retroviral Gag protein exhibits extensive amino acid sequence variation overall; however, one region of Gag, termed the major homology region, is conserved among all retroviruses and even some yeast retrotransposons, although the reason for this conservation remains poorly understood. Highly conserved residues in the major homology region are required for assembly of retroviruses; however, when these residues are required during assembly is not clear. Here, we used biochemical and electron microscopic analyses to demonstrate that these conserved residues function after assembling HIV-1 Gag has associated with genomic RNA, recruited critical host factors involved in assembly, and targeted to the plasma membrane but before Gag has completed the assembly process. By revealing precisely when conserved residues in the major homology region are required during assembly, these studies resolve existing controversies and set the stage for future experiments aimed at a more complete understanding of how the major homology region functions.

  • The SD1 Subdomain of Venezuelan Equine Encephalitis Virus Capsid Protein Plays a Critical Role in Nucleocapsid and Particle Assembly [Structure and Assembly]

  • Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) is an important human and animal pathogen, for which no safe and efficient vaccines or therapeutic means have been developed. Viral particle assembly and budding processes represent potential targets for therapeutic intervention. However, our understanding of the mechanistic process of VEEV assembly, RNA encapsidation, and the roles of different capsid-specific domains in these events remain to be described. The results of this new study demonstrate that the very amino-terminal VEEV capsid-specific subdomain SD1 is a critical player in the particle assembly process. It functions in a virus-specific mode, and its deletion, mutation, or replacement by the same subdomain derived from other alphaviruses has strong negative effects on infectious virus release. VEEV variants with mutated SD1 accumulate adaptive mutations in both SD1 and SD2, which result in a more efficiently replicating phenotype. Moreover, efficient nucleocapsid and particle assembly proceeds only when the two subdomains, SD1 and SD2, are derived from the same alphavirus. These two subdomains together appear to form the central core of VEEV nucleocapsids, and their interaction is one of the driving forces of virion assembly and budding. The similar domain structures of alphavirus capsid proteins suggest that this new knowledge can be applied to other alphaviruses.

    IMPORTANCE Alphaviruses are a group of human and animal pathogens which cause periodic outbreaks of highly debilitating diseases. Despite significant progress made in understanding the overall structure of alphavirus and VEEV virions, and glycoprotein spikes in particular, the mechanistic process of nucleocapsid assembly, RNA encapsidation, and the roles of different capsid-specific domains in these processes remain to be described. Our new data demonstrate that the very amino-terminal subdomain of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus capsid protein, SD1, plays a critical role in the nucleocapsid assembly. It functions synergistically with the following SD2 (helix I) and appears to form a core in the center of nucleocapsid. The core formation is one of the driving forces of alphavirus particle assembly.

  • The Basic Domain of Herpes Simplex Virus 1 pUS9 Recruits Kinesin-1 To Facilitate Egress from Neurons [Structure and Assembly]

  • The alphaherpesviral envelope protein pUS9 has been shown to play a role in the anterograde axonal transport of herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1), yet the molecular mechanism is unknown. To address this, we used an in vitro pulldown assay to define a series of five arginine residues within the conserved pUS9 basic domain that were essential for binding the molecular motor kinesin-1. The mutation of these pUS9 arginine residues to asparagine blocked the binding of both recombinant and native kinesin-1. We next generated HSV-1 with the same pUS9 arginine residues mutated to asparagine (HSV-1pUS9KBDM) and then restored them being to arginine (HSV-1pUS9KBDR). The two mutated viruses were analyzed initially in a zosteriform model of recurrent cutaneous infection. The primary skin lesion scores were identical in severity and kinetics, and there were no differences in viral load at dorsal root ganglionic (DRG) neurons at day 4 postinfection (p.i.) for both viruses. In contrast, HSV-1pUS9KBDM showed a partial reduction in secondary skin lesions at day 8 p.i. compared to the level for HSV-1pUS9KBDR. The use of rat DRG neuronal cultures in a microfluidic chamber system showed both a reduction in anterograde axonal transport and spread from axons to nonneuronal cells for HSV-1pUS9KBDM. Therefore, the basic domain of pUS9 contributes to anterograde axonal transport and spread of HSV-1 from neurons to the skin through recruitment of kinesin-1.

    IMPORTANCE Herpes simplex virus 1 and 2 cause genital herpes, blindness, encephalitis, and occasionally neonatal deaths. There is also increasing evidence that sexually transmitted genital herpes increases HIV acquisition, and the reactivation of HSV increases HIV replication and transmission. New antiviral strategies are required to control resistant viruses and to block HSV spread, thereby reducing HIV acquisition and transmission. These aims will be facilitated through understanding how HSV is transported down nerves and into skin. In this study, we have defined how a key viral protein plays a role in both axonal transport and spread of the virus from nerve cells to the skin.

  • Structure of an HIV-2 gp120 in Complex with CD4 [Structure and Assembly]

  • HIV-2 is a nonpandemic form of the virus causing AIDS, and the majority of HIV-2-infected patients exhibit long-term nonprogression. The HIV-1 and HIV-2 envelope glycoproteins, the sole targets of neutralizing antibodies, share 30 to 40% identity. As a first step in understanding the reduced pathogenicity of HIV-2, we solved a 3.0-AAring; structure of an HIV-2 gp120 bound to the host receptor CD4, which reveals structural similarity to HIV-1 gp120 despite divergence in amino acid sequence.