|Journal of Virology Structure and Assembly|
Flavivirus NS4A protein induces host membrane rearrangement and functions as a replication complex component. The molecular details of how flavivirus NS4A exerts these functions remain elusive. Here, we used dengue virus (DENV) as a model to characterize and demonstrate the biological relevance of flavivirus NS4A oligomerization. DENV type 2 (DENV-2) NS4A protein forms oligomers in infected cells or when expressed alone. Deletion mutagenesis mapped amino acids 50 to 76 (spanning the first transmembrane domain [TMD1]) of NS4A as the major determinant for oligomerization, while the N-terminal 50 residues contribute only slightly to the oligomerization. Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) analysis of NS4A amino acids 17 to 80 suggests that residues L31, L52, E53, G66, and G67 could participate in oligomerization. Ala substitution for 15 flavivirus conserved NS4A residues revealed that these amino acids are important for viral replication. Among the 15 mutated NS4A residues, 2 amino acids (E50A and G67A) are located within TMD1. Both E50A and G67A attenuated viral replication, decreased NS4A oligomerization, and reduced NS4A protein stability. In contrast, NS4A oligomerization was not affected by the replication-defective mutations (R12A, P49A, and K80A) located outside TMD1. trans complementation experiments showed that expression of wild-type NS4A alone was not sufficient to rescue the replication-lethal NS4A mutants. However, the presence of DENV-2 replicons could partially restore the replication defect of some lethal NS4A mutants (L26A and K80A), but not others (L60A and E122A), suggesting an unidentified mechanism governing the outcome of complementation in a mutant-dependent manner. Collectively, the results have demonstrated the importance of TMD1-mediated NS4A oligomerization in flavivirus replication.
IMPORTANCE We report that DENV NS4A forms oligomers. Such NS4A oligomerization is mediated mainly through amino acids 50 to 76 (spanning the first transmembrane domain [TMD1]). The biological importance of NS4A oligomerization is demonstrated by results showing that mutations of flavivirus conserved residues (E50A and G67A located within TMD1) reduced the oligomerization and stability of the NS4A protein, leading to attenuated viral replication. A systematic mutagenesis analysis demonstrated that flavivirus conserved NS4A residues are important for DENV replication. A successful trans complementation of replication-lethal NS4A mutant virus requires wild-type NS4A in the context of the viral replication complex. The wild-type NS4A protein alone is not sufficient to rescue the replication defect of NS4A mutants. Intriguingly, distinct NS4A mutants yielded different complementation outcomes in the replicon-containing cells. Overall, the study has enhanced our understanding of flavivirus NS4A at the molecular level. The results also suggest that inhibitor blocking of NS4A oligomerization could be explored for antiviral drug discovery.
Human enterovirus 71 (EV71) and coxsackievirus A16 (CVA16) are the two major causative agents for hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD). Previously, we demonstrated that a virus-like particle (VLP) for EV71 produced from Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a potential vaccine candidate against EV71 infection, and an EV71/CVA16 chimeric VLP can elicit protective immune responses against both virus infections. Here, we presented the crystal structures of both VLPs, showing that both the linear and conformational neutralization epitopes identified in EV71 are mostly preserved on both VLPs. The replacement of only 4 residues in the VP1 GH loop converted strongly negatively charged surface patches formed by portions of the SP70 epitope in EV71 VLP into a relatively neutral surface in the chimeric VLP, which likely accounted for the additional neutralization capability of the chimeric VLP against CVA16 infection. Such local variations in the amino acid sequences and the surface charge potential are also present in different types of polioviruses. In comparison to EV71 VLP, the chimeric VLP exhibits structural changes at the local site of amino acid replacement and the surface loops of all capsid proteins. This is consistent with the observation that the VP1 GH loop located near the pseudo-3-fold junction is involved in extensive interactions with other capsid regions. Furthermore, portions of VP0 and VP1 in EV71 VLP are at least transiently exposed, revealing the structural flexibility of the VLP. Together, our structural analysis provided insights into the structural basis of enterovirus neutralization and novel vaccine design against HFMD and other enterovirus-associated diseases.
IMPORTANCE Our previous studies demonstrated that the enterovirus 71 (EV71) virus-like particle (VLP) produced from yeast is a vaccine candidate against EV71 infection and that a chimeric EV71/coxsackievirus A16 (CVA16) VLP with the replacement of 4 amino acids in the VP1 GH loop can confer protection against both EV71 and CVA16 infections. This study reported the crystal structures of both the EV71 VLP and the chimeric EV71/CVA16 VLP and revealed that the major neutralization epitopes of EV71 are mostly preserved in both VLPs. In addition, the mutated VP1 GH loop in the chimeric VLP is well exposed on the particle surface and exhibits a surface charge potential different from that contributed by the original VP1 GH loop in EV71 VLP. Together, this study provided insights into the structural basis of enterovirus neutralization and evidence that the yeast-produced VLPs can be developed into novel vaccines against hand-foot-and-mouth disease (HFMD) and other enterovirus-associated diseases.
The human JC polyomavirus (JCPyV) establishes an asymptomatic, persistent infection in the kidneys of the majority of the population and is the causative agent of the fatal demyelinating disease progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) in immunosuppressed individuals. The Mad-1 strain of JCPyV, a brain isolate, was shown earlier to require aalpha;2,6-linked sialic acid on the lactoseries tetrasaccharide c (LSTc) glycan for attachment to host cells. In contrast, a JCPyV kidney isolate type 3 strain, WT3, has been reported to interact with sialic acid-containing gangliosides, but the role of these glycans in JCPyV infection has remained unclear. To help rationalize these findings and probe the effects of strain-specific differences on receptor binding, we performed a comprehensive analysis of the glycan receptor specificities of these two representative JCPyV strains using high-resolution X-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy, and correlated these data with the results of infectivity assays. We show here that capsid proteins of Mad-1 and WT3 JCPyV can both engage LSTc as well as multiple sialylated gangliosides. However, the binding affinities exhibit subtle differences, with the highest affinity observed for LSTc. Engagement of LSTc is a prerequisite for functional receptor engagement, while the more weakly binding gangliosides are not required for productive infection. Our findings highlight the complexity of virus-carbohydrate interactions and demonstrate that subtle differences in binding affinities, rather than the binding event alone, help determine tissue tropism and viral pathogenesis.
IMPORTANCE Viral infection is initiated by attachment to receptors on host cells, and this event plays an important role in viral disease. We investigated the receptor-binding properties of human JC polyomavirus (JCPyV), a virus that resides in the kidneys of the majority of the population and can cause the fatal demyelinating disease progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) in the brains of immunosuppressed individuals. JCPyV has been reported to interact with multiple carbohydrate receptors, and we sought to clarify how the interactions between JCPyV and cellular carbohydrate receptors influenced infection. Here we demonstrate that JCPyV can engage numerous sialylated carbohydrate receptors. However, the virus displays preferential binding to LSTc, and only LSTc mediates a productive infection. Our findings demonstrate that subtle differences in binding affinity, rather than receptor engagement alone, are a key determinant of viral infection.
The influenza virus RNA-dependent RNA polymerase catalyzes genome replication and transcription within the cell nucleus. Efficient nuclear import and assembly of the polymerase subunits PB1, PB2, and PA are critical steps in the virus life cycle. We investigated the structure and function of the PA linker (residues 197 to 256), located between its N-terminal endonuclease domain and its C-terminal structured domain that binds PB1, the polymerase core. Circular dichroism experiments revealed that the PA linker by itself is structurally disordered. A large series of PA linker mutants exhibited a temperature-sensitive (ts) phenotype (reduced viral growth at 39.5ddeg;C versus 37ddeg;C/33ddeg;C), suggesting an alteration of folding kinetic parameters. The ts phenotype was associated with a reduced efficiency of replication/transcription of a pseudoviral reporter RNA in a minireplicon assay. Using a fluorescent-tagged PB1, we observed that ts and lethal PA mutants did not efficiently recruit PB1 to reach the nucleus at 39.5ddeg;C. A protein complementation assay using PA mutants, PB1, and bbeta;-importin IPO5 tagged with fragments of the Gaussia princeps luciferase showed that increasing the temperature negatively modulated the PA-PB1 and the PA-PB1-IPO5 interactions or complex stability. The selection of revertant viruses allowed the identification of different types of compensatory mutations located in one or the other of the three polymerase subunits. Two ts mutants were shown to be attenuated and able to induce antibodies in mice. Taken together, our results identify a PA domain critical for PB1-PA nuclear import and that is a "hot spot" to engineer ts mutants that could be used to design novel attenuated vaccines.
IMPORTANCE By targeting a discrete domain of the PA polymerase subunit of influenza virus, we were able to identify a series of 9 amino acid positions that are appropriate to engineer temperature-sensitive (ts) mutants. This is the first time that a large number of ts mutations were engineered in such a short domain, demonstrating that rational design of ts mutants can be achieved. We were able to associate this phenotype with a defect of transport of the PA-PB1 complex into the nucleus. Reversion substitutions restored the ability of the complex to move to the nucleus. Two of these ts mutants were shown to be attenuated and able to produce antibodies in mice. These results are of high interest for the design of novel attenuated vaccines and to develop new antiviral drugs.