|Journal of Virology Structure and Assembly|
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) exists as a lipoprotein-virus hybrid lipoviroparticle (LVP). In vitro studies have demonstrated the importance of apolipoproteins in HCV secretion and infectivity, leading to the notion that HCV coopts the secretion of very-low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) for its egress. However, the mechanisms involved in virus particle assembly and egress are still elusive. The biogenesis of VLDL particles occurs in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), followed by subsequent lipidation in the ER and Golgi compartment. The secretion of mature VLDL particles occurs through the Golgi secretory pathway. HCV virions are believed to latch onto or fuse with the nascent VLDL particle in either the ER or the Golgi compartment, resulting in the generation of LVPs. In our attempt to unravel the collaboration between HCV and VLDL secretion, we studied HCV particles budding from the ER en route to the Golgi compartment in COPII vesicles. Biophysical characterization of COPII vesicles fractionated on an iodixanol gradient revealed that HCV RNA is enriched in the highly buoyant COPII vesicle fractions and cofractionates with apolipoprotein B (ApoB), ApoE, and the HCV core and envelope proteins. Electron microscopy of immunogold-labeled microsections revealed that the HCV envelope and core proteins colocalize with apolipoproteins and HCV RNA in Sec31-coated COPII vesicles. Ultrastructural analysis also revealed the presence of HCV structural proteins, RNA, and apolipoproteins in the Golgi stacks. These findings support the hypothesis that HCV LVPs assemble in the ER and are transported to the Golgi compartment in COPII vesicles to embark on the Golgi secretory route.
IMPORTANCE HCV assembly and release accompany the formation of LVPs that circulate in the sera of HCV patients and are also produced in an in vitro culture system. The pathway of HCV morphogenesis and secretion has not been fully understood. This study investigates the exact site where the association of HCV virions with host lipoproteins occurs. Using immunoprecipitation of COPII vesicles and immunogold electron microscopy (EM), we characterize the existence of LVPs that cofractionate with lipoproteins, viral proteins, RNA, and vesicular components. Our results show that this assembly occurs in the ER, and LVPs thus formed are carried through the Golgi network by vesicular transport. This work provides a unique insight into the HCV LVP assembly process within infected cells and offers opportunities for designing antiviral therapeutic cellular targets.
The I2L open reading frame of vaccinia virus (VACV) encodes a conserved 72-amino-acid protein with a putative C-terminal transmembrane domain. Previous studies with a tetracycline-inducible mutant demonstrated that I2-deficient virions are defective in cell entry. The purpose of the present study was to determine the step of replication or entry that is affected by loss of the I2 protein. Fluorescence microscopy experiments showed that I2 colocalized with a major membrane protein of immature and mature virions. We generated a cell line that constitutively expressed I2 and allowed construction of the VACV I2L deletion mutant vI2. As anticipated, vI2 was unable to replicate in cells that did not express I2. Unexpectedly, morphogenesis was interrupted at a stage after immature virion formation, resulting in the accumulation of dense spherical particles instead of brick-shaped mature virions with well-defined core structures. The abnormal particles retained the D13 scaffold protein of immature virions, were severely deficient in the transmembrane proteins that comprise the entry fusion complex (EFC), and had increased amounts of unprocessed membrane and core proteins. Total lysates of cells infected with vI2 also had diminished EFC proteins due to instability attributed to their hydrophobicity and failure to be inserted into viral membranes. A similar instability of EFC proteins had previously been found with unrelated mutants blocked earlier in morphogenesis that also accumulated viral membranes retaining the D13 scaffold. We concluded that I2 is required for virion morphogenesis, release of the D13 scaffold, and the association of EFC proteins with viral membranes.
IMPORTANCE Poxviruses comprise a large family that infect vertebrates and invertebrates, cause disease in both in humans and in wild and domesticated animals, and are being engineered as vectors for vaccines and cancer therapy. In addition, investigations of poxviruses have provided insights into many aspects of cell biology. The I2 protein is conserved in all poxviruses that infect vertebrates, suggesting an important role. The present study revealed that this protein is essential for vaccinia virus morphogenesis and that its absence results in an accumulation of deformed virus particles retaining the scaffold protein and deficient in surface proteins needed for cell entry.
The herpes simplex virus (HSV) capsid is released into the cytoplasm after fusion of viral and host membranes, whereupon dynein-dependent trafficking along microtubules targets it to the nuclear envelope. Binding of the capsid to the nuclear pore complex (NPC) is mediated by the capsid protein pUL25 and the capsid-tethered tegument protein pUL36. Temperature-sensitive mutants in both pUL25 and pUL36 dock at the NPC but fail to release DNA. The uncoating reaction has been difficult to study due to the rapid release of the genome once the capsid interacts with the nuclear pore. In this study, we describe the isolation and characterization of a truncation mutant of pUL25. Live-cell imaging and immunofluorescence studies demonstrated that the mutant was not impaired in penetration of the host cell or in trafficking of the capsid to the nuclear membrane. However, expression of viral proteins was absent or significantly delayed in cells infected with the pUL25 mutant virus. Transmission electron microscopy revealed capsids accumulated at nuclear pores that retained the viral genome for at least 4 h postinfection. In addition, cryoelectron microscopy (cryo-EM) reconstructions of virion capsids did not detect any obvious differences in the location or structural organization for the pUL25 or pUL36 proteins on the pUL25 mutant capsids. Further, in contrast to wild-type virus, the antiviral response mediated by the viral DNA-sensing cyclic guanine adenine synthase (cGAS) was severely compromised for the pUL25 mutant. These results demonstrate that the pUL25 capsid protein has a critical role in releasing viral DNA from NPC-bound capsids.
IMPORTANCE Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) is the causative agent of several pathologies ranging in severity from the common cold sore to life-threatening encephalitic infection. Early steps in infection include release of the capsid into the cytoplasm, docking of the capsid at a nuclear pore, and release of the viral genome into the nucleus. A key knowledge gap is how the capsid engages the NPC and what triggers release of the viral genome into the nucleus. Here we show that the C-terminal region of the HSV-1 pUL25 protein is required for releasing the viral genome from capsids docked at nuclear pores. The significance of our research is in identifying pUL25 as a key viral factor for genome uncoating. pUL25 is found at each of the capsid vertices as part of the capsid vertex-specific component and implicates the importance of this complex for NPC binding and genome release.