|Journal of Virology Structure and Assembly|
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) envelope glycoprotein E2 is the major target of broadly neutralizing antibodies in vivo and is the focus of efforts in the rational design of a universal B cell vaccine against HCV. The E2 glycoprotein exhibits a high degree of amino acid variability which localizes to three discrete regions: hypervariable region 1 (HVR1), hypervariable region 2 (HVR2), and the intergenotypic variable region (igVR). All three variable regions contribute to immune evasion and/or isolate-specific structural variations, both important considerations for vaccine design. A high-resolution structural definition of the intact HCV envelope glycoprotein complex containing E1 and E2 remains to be elucidated, while crystallographic structures of a recombinant E2 ectodomain failed to resolve HVR1, HVR2, and a major neutralization determinant adjacent to HVR1. To obtain further information on E2, we characterized the role of all three variable regions in E2 ectodomain folding and function in the context of a recombinant ectodomain fragment (rE2). We report that removal of the variable regions accelerates binding to the major host cell receptor CD81 and that simultaneous deletion of HVR2 and the igVR is required to maintain wild-type CD81-binding characteristics. The removal of the variable regions also rescued the ability of rE2 to form a functional homodimer. We propose that the rE2 core provides novel insights into the role of the variable motifs in the higher-order assembly of the E2 ectodomain and may have implications for E1E2 structure on the virion surface.
IMPORTANCE Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection affects ~2% of the population globally, and no vaccine is available. HCV is a highly variable virus, and understanding the presentation of key antigenic sites at the virion surface is important for the design of a universal vaccine. This study investigates the role of three surface-exposed variable regions in E2 glycoprotein folding and function in the context of a recombinant soluble ectodomain. Our data demonstrate the variable motifs modulate binding of the E2 ectodomain to the major host cell receptor CD81 and have an impact on the formation of an E2 homodimer with high-affinity binding to CD81.
Baculoviridae is a family of insect-specific viruses that have a circular double-stranded DNA genome packaged within a rod-shaped capsid. The mechanism of baculovirus nucleocapsid assembly remains unclear. Previous studies have shown that deletion of the ac83 gene of Autographa californica multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus (AcMNPV) blocks viral nucleocapsid assembly. Interestingly, the ac83-encoded protein Ac83 is not a component of the nucleocapsid, implying a particular role for ac83 in nucleocapsid assembly that may be independent of its protein product. To examine this possibility, Ac83 synthesis was disrupted by insertion of a chloramphenicol resistance gene into its coding sequence or by deleting its promoter and translation start codon. Both mutants produced progeny viruses normally, indicating that the Ac83 protein is not required for nucleocapsid assembly. Subsequently, complementation assays showed that the production of progeny viruses required the presence of ac83 in the AcMNPV genome instead of its presence in trans. Therefore, we reasoned that ac83 is involved in nucleocapsid assembly via an internal cis-acting element, which we named the nucleocapsid assembly-essential element (NAE). The NAE was identified to lie within nucleotides 1651 to 1850 of ac83 and had 8 conserved A/T-rich regions. Sequences homologous to the NAE were found only in alphabaculoviruses and have a conserved positional relationship with another essential cis-acting element that was recently identified. The identification of the NAE may help to connect the data of viral cis-acting elements and related proteins in the baculovirus nucleocapsid assembly, which is important for elucidating DNA-protein interaction events during this process.
IMPORTANCE Virus nucleocapsid assembly usually requires specific cis-acting elements in the viral genome for various processes, such as the selection of the viral genome from the cellular nucleic acids, the cleavage of concatemeric viral genome replication intermediates, and the encapsidation of the viral genome into procapsids. In linear DNA viruses, such elements generally locate at the ends of the viral genome; however, most of these elements remain unidentified in circular DNA viruses (including baculovirus) due to their circular genomic conformation. Here, we identified a nucleocapsid assembly-essential element in the AcMNPV (the archetype of baculovirus) genome. This finding provides an important reference for studies of nucleocapsid assembly-related elements in baculoviruses and other circular DNA viruses. Moreover, as most of the previous studies of baculovirus nucleocapsid assembly have been focused on viral proteins, our study provides a novel entry point to investigate this mechanism via cis-acting elements in the viral genome.
Baculovirus occlusion-derived virus (ODV) initiates infection of lepidopteran larval hosts by binding to the midgut epithelia, which is mediated by per os infectivity factors (PIFs). Autographa californica multiple nucleopolyhedrovirus (AcMNPV) encodes seven PIF proteins, of which PIF1 to PIF4 form a core complex in ODV envelopes to which PIF0 and PIF6 loosely associate. Deletion of any pif gene results in ODV being unable to bind or enter midgut cells. AC83 also associates with the PIF complex, and this study further analyzed its role in oral infectivity to determine if it is a PIF protein. It had been proposed that AC83 possesses a chitin binding domain that enables transit through the peritrophic matrix; however, no chitin binding activity has ever been demonstrated. AC83 has been reported to be found only in the ODV envelopes, but in contrast, the Orgyia pseudotsugata MNPV AC83 homolog is associated with both ODV nucleocapsids and envelopes. In addition, unlike known pif genes, deletion of ac83 eliminates nucleocapsid formation. We propose a new model for AC83 function and show AC83 is associated with both ODV nucleocapsids and envelopes. We also further define the domain required for nucleocapsid assembly. The cysteine-rich region of AC83 is also shown not to be a chitin binding domain but a zinc finger domain required for the recruitment or assembly of the PIF complex to ODV envelopes. As such, AC83 has all the properties of a PIF protein and should be considered PIF8. In addition, pif7 (ac110) is reported as the 38th baculovirus core gene.
IMPORTANCE ODV is essential for the per os infectivity of the baculovirus AcMNPV. To initiate infection, ODV binds to microvilli of lepidopteran midgut cells, a process which requires a group of seven virion envelope proteins called PIFs. In this study, we reexamined the function of AC83, a protein that copurifies with the ODV PIFs, to determine its role in the oral infection process. A zinc finger domain was identified and a new model for AC83 function was proposed. In contrast to previous studies, AC83 was found to be physically located in both the envelope and nucleocapsid of ODV. By deletion analysis, the AC83 domain required for nucleocapsid assembly was more finely delineated. We show that AC83 is required for PIF complex formation and conclude that it is a true per os infectivity factor and should be called PIF8.
It has been shown previously in the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) that two point mutations, N15A and V25F, in the transmembrane domain (TMD) of the envelope (E) protein abolished channel activity and led to in vivo attenuation. Pathogenicity was recovered in mutants that also regained E protein channel activity. In particular, V25F was rapidly compensated by changes at multiple V25F-facing TMD residues located on a neighboring monomer, consistent with a recovery of oligomerization. Here, we show using infected cells that the same mutations, T16A and A26F, in the gamma-CoV infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) lead to, in principle, similar results. However, IBV E A26F did not abolish oligomer formation and was compensated by mutations at N- and C-terminal extramembrane domains (EMDs). The C-terminal EMD mutations clustered along an insertion sequence specific to gamma-CoVs. Nuclear magnetic resonance data are consistent with the presence of only one TMD in IBV E, suggesting that recovery of channel activity and fitness in these IBV E revertant mutants is through an allosteric interaction between EMDs and TMD. The present results are important for the development of IBV live attenuated vaccines when channel-inactivating mutations are introduced in the E protein.
IMPORTANCE The ion channel activity of SARS-CoV E protein is a determinant of virulence, and abolishment of channel activity leads to viral attenuation. E deletion may be a strategy for generating live attenuated vaccines but can trigger undesirable compensatory mechanisms through modifications of other viral proteins to regain virulence. Therefore, a more suitable approach may be to introduce small but critical attenuating mutations. For this, the stability of attenuating mutations should be examined to understand the mechanisms of reversion. Here, we show that channel-inactivating mutations of the avian infectious bronchitis virus E protein introduced in a recombinant virus system are deficient in viral release and fitness and that revertant mutations also restored channel activity. Unexpectedly, most of the revertant mutations appeared at extramembrane domains, particularly along an insertion specific for gammacoronaviruses. Our structural data propose a single transmembrane domain in IBV E, suggesting an allosteric interaction between extramembrane and transmembrane domains.