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1.  Functional Specialization and Evolution of Leader Proteinases in the Family Closteroviridae 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(24):12153-12160.
Members of the Closteroviridae and Potyviridae families of the plant positive-strand RNA viruses encode one or two papain-like leader proteinases. In addition to a C-terminal proteolytic domain, each of these proteinases possesses a nonproteolytic N-terminal domain. We compared functions of the several leader proteinases using a gene swapping approach. The leader proteinase (L-Pro) of Beet yellows virus (BYV; a closterovirus) was replaced with L1 or L2 proteinases of Citrus tristeza virus (CTV; another closterovirus), P-Pro proteinase of Lettuce infectious yellows virus (LIYV; a crinivirus), and HC-Pro proteinase of Tobacco etch virus (a potyvirus). Each foreign proteinase efficiently processed the chimeric BYV polyprotein in vitro. However, only L1 and P-Pro, not L2 and HC-Pro, were able to rescue the amplification of the chimeric BYV variants. The combined expression of L1 and L2 resulted in an increased RNA accumulation compared to that of the parental BYV. Remarkably, this L1-L2 chimera exhibited reduced invasiveness and inability to move from cell to cell. Similar analyses of the BYV hybrids, in which only the papain-like domain of L-Pro was replaced with those derived from L1, L2, P-Pro, and HC-Pro, also revealed functional specialization of these domains. In subcellular-localization experiments, distinct patterns were observed for the leader proteinases of BYV, CTV, and LIYV. Taken together, these results demonstrated that, in addition to a common proteolytic activity, the leader proteinases of closteroviruses possess specialized functions in virus RNA amplification, virus invasion, and cell-to-cell movement. The phylogenetic analysis suggested that functionally distinct L1 and L2 of CTV originated by a gene duplication event.
PMCID: PMC116111  PMID: 11711606
2.  Regulation of Closterovirus Gene Expression Examined by Insertion of a Self-Processing Reporter and by Northern Hybridization 
Journal of Virology  1999;73(10):7988-7993.
A reporter open reading frame (ORF) coding for a fusion of bacterial β-glucuronidase (GUS) with a proteinase domain (Pro) derived from tobacco etch potyvirus was utilized for tagging individual genes of beet yellows closterovirus (BYV). Insertion of this reporter ORF between the first and second codons of the BYV ORFs encoding the HSP70 homolog (HSP70h), a major capsid protein (CP), and a 20-kDa protein (p20) resulted in the expression of the processed GUS-Pro reporter from corresponding subgenomic RNAs. The high sensitivity of GUS assays permitted temporal analysis of reporter accumulation, revealing early expression from the HSP70h promoter, followed by the CP promoter and later the p20 promoter. The kinetics of transcription of the remaining BYV genes encoding a 64-kDa protein (p64), a minor capsid protein (CPm), and a 21-kDa protein (p21) were examined via Northern blot analysis. Taken together, the data indicated that the temporal regulation of BYV gene expression includes early (HSP70h, CPm, CP, and p21 promoters) and late (p64 and p20 promoters) phases. It was also demonstrated that the deletion of six viral genes that are nonessential for RNA amplification resulted in a dramatic increase in the level of transcription from one of the two remaining subgenomic promoters. Comparison with other positive-strand RNA viruses producing multiple subgenomic RNAs showed the uniqueness of the pattern of closterovirus transcriptional regulation.
PMCID: PMC112813  PMID: 10482546
3.  Crinivirus replication and host interactions 
Criniviruses comprise one of the genera within the family Closteroviridae. Members in this family are restricted to the phloem and rely on whitefly vectors of the genera Bemisia and/or Trialeurodes for plant-to-plant transmission. All criniviruses have bipartite, positive-sense single-stranded RNA genomes, although there is an unconfirmed report of one having a tripartite genome. Lettuce infectious yellows virus (LIYV) is the type species of the genus, the best studied so far of the criniviruses and the first for which a reverse genetics system was developed. LIYV RNA 1 encodes for proteins predicted to be involved in replication, and alone is competent for replication in protoplasts. Replication results in accumulation of cytoplasmic vesiculated membranous structures which are characteristic of most studied members of the Closteroviridae. These membranous structures, often referred to as Beet yellows virus (BYV)-type vesicles, are likely sites of RNA replication. LIYV RNA 2 is replicated in trans when co-infecting cells with RNA 1, but is temporally delayed relative to RNA 1. Efficient RNA 2 replication also is dependent on the RNA 1-encoded RNA-binding protein, P34. No LIYV RNA 2-encoded proteins have been shown to affect RNA replication, but at least four, CP (major coat protein), CPm (minor coat protein), Hsp70h, and P59 are virion structural components and CPm is a determinant of whitefly transmissibility. Roles of other LIYV RNA 2-encoded proteins are largely as yet unknown, but P26 is a non-virion protein that accumulates in cells as characteristic plasmalemma deposits which in plants are localized within phloem parenchyma and companion cells over plasmodesmata connections to sieve elements. The two remaining crinivirus-conserved RNA 2-encoded proteins are P5 and P9. P5 is 39 amino acid protein and is encoded at the 5′ end of RNA 2 as ORF 1 and is part of the hallmark closterovirus gene array. The orthologous gene in BYV has been shown to play a role in cell-to-cell movement and indicated to be localized to the endoplasmic reticulum as a Type III integral membrane protein. The other small protein, P9, is encoded by ORF 4 overlaps with ORF 3 that encodes the structural protein, P59. P9 seems to be unique to viruses in the genus Crinivirus, as no similar protein has been detected in viruses of the other two genera of the Closteroviridae.
PMCID: PMC3657685  PMID: 23730299
phloem-limited; plasmalemma deposit; whitefly vector; Crinivirus; quintuple gene block
4.  Beet yellows virus replicase and replicative compartments: parallels with other RNA viruses 
In eukaryotic virus systems, infection leads to induction of membranous compartments in which replication occurs. Virus-encoded subunits of the replication complex mediate its interaction with membranes. As replication platforms, RNA viruses use the cytoplasmic surfaces of different membrane compartments, e.g., endoplasmic reticulum (ER), Golgi, endo/lysosomes, mitochondria, chloroplasts, and peroxisomes. Closterovirus infections are accompanied by formation of multivesicular complexes from cell membranes of ER or mitochondrial origin. So far the mechanisms for vesicles formation have been obscure. In the replication-associated 1a polyprotein of Beet yellows virus (BYV) and other closteroviruses, the region between the methyltransferase and helicase domains (1a central region (CR), 1a CR) is marginally conserved. Computer-assisted analysis predicts several putative membrane-binding domains in the BYV 1a CR. Transient expression of a hydrophobic segment (referred to here as CR-2) of the BYV 1a in Nicotiana benthamiana led to reorganization of the ER and formation of ~1-μm mobile globules. We propose that the CR-2 may be involved in the formation of multivesicular complexes in BYV-infected cells. This provides analogy with membrane-associated proteins mediating the build-up of “virus factories” in cells infected with diverse positive-strand RNA viruses (alpha-like viruses, picorna-like viruses, flaviviruses, and nidoviruses) and negative-strand RNA viruses (bunyaviruses).
PMCID: PMC3589766  PMID: 23508802
RNA virus replication; membrane vesicles; virus replication factory; endoplasmic reticulum modification; intracellular traffic
5.  Leader Proteinase of Beet Yellows Virus Functions in Long-Distance Transport 
Journal of Virology  2003;77(5):2843-2849.
The 66-kDa leader proteinase (L-Pro) of the Beet yellows virus (BYV) possesses a nonconserved N-terminal domain and a conserved, papain-like C-terminal domain. Previous work revealed that the N-terminal domain functions in RNA amplification, whereas the C-terminal domain is required for autoproteolysis. Alanine-scanning mutagenesis was applied to complete the functional analysis of L-Pro throughout the virus life cycle. This analysis indicated that the C-terminal domain of L-Pro, in addition to being required for proteolysis, also functions in RNA amplification and that these two functions are genetically separable. Examination of the role of L-Pro in BYV cell-to-cell movement revealed that none of the 20 examined replication-competent mutants was movement defective. In contrast, six of the L-Pro mutations affected the long-distance transport of BYV to various degrees, whereas three mutations completely abolished the transport. Because these mutations were located throughout the protein molecule, both domains of L-Pro function in virus transport. We conclude that in addition to previously identified functions of L-Pro, it also serves as the BYV long-distance transport factor.
PMCID: PMC149760  PMID: 12584307
6.  The 64-Kilodalton Capsid Protein Homolog of Beet Yellows Virus Is Required for Assembly of Virion Tails 
Journal of Virology  2003;77(4):2377-2384.
The filamentous virion of the closterovirus Beet yellows virus (BYV) consists of a long body formed by the major capsid protein (CP) and a short tail composed of the minor capsid protein (CPm) and the virus-encoded Hsp70 homolog. By using nano-liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry and biochemical analyses, we show here that the BYV 64-kDa protein (p64) is the fourth integral component of BYV virions. The N-terminal domain of p64 is exposed at the virion surface and is accessible to antibodies and mild trypsin digestion. In contrast, the C-terminal domain is embedded in the virion and is inaccessible to antibodies or trypsin. The C-terminal domain of p64 is shown to be homologous to CP and CPm. Mutation of the signature motifs of capsid proteins of filamentous RNA viruses in p64 results in the formation of tailless virions, which are unable to move from cell to cell. These results reveal the dual function of p64 in tail assembly and BYV motility and support the concept of the virion tail as a specialized device for BYV cell-to-cell movement.
PMCID: PMC141117  PMID: 12551975
7.  3'-coterminal subgenomic RNAs and putative cis-acting elements of Grapevine leafroll-associated virus 3 reveals 'unique' features of gene expression strategy in the genus Ampelovirus 
Virology Journal  2010;7:180.
The family Closteroviridae comprises genera with monopartite genomes, Closterovirus and Ampelovirus, and with bipartite and tripartite genomes, Crinivirus. By contrast to closteroviruses in the genera Closterovirus and Crinivirus, much less is known about the molecular biology of viruses in the genus Ampelovirus, although they cause serious diseases in agriculturally important perennial crops like grapevines, pineapple, cherries and plums.
The gene expression and cis-acting elements of Grapevine leafroll-associated virus 3 (GLRaV-3; genus Ampelovirus) was examined and compared to that of other members of the family Closteroviridae. Six putative 3'-coterminal subgenomic (sg) RNAs were abundantly present in grapevine (Vitis vinifera) infected with GLRaV-3. The sgRNAs for coat protein (CP), p21, p20A and p20B were confirmed using gene-specific riboprobes in Northern blot analysis. The 5'-termini of sgRNAs specific to CP, p21, p20A and p20B were mapped in the 18,498 nucleotide (nt) virus genome and their leader sequences determined to be 48, 23, 95 and 125 nt, respectively. No conserved motifs were found around the transcription start site or in the leader sequence of these sgRNAs. The predicted secondary structure analysis of sequences around the start site failed to reveal any conserved motifs among the four sgRNAs. The GLRaV-3 isolate from Washington had a 737 nt long 5' nontranslated region (NTR) with a tandem repeat of 65 nt sequence and differed in sequence and predicted secondary structure with a South Africa isolate. Comparison of the dissimilar sequences of the 5'NTRs did not reveal any common predicted structures. The 3'NTR was shorter and more conserved. The lack of similarity among the cis-acting elements of the diverse viruses in the family Closteroviridae is another measure of the complexity of their evolution.
The results indicate that transcription regulation of GLRaV-3 sgRNAs appears to be different from members of the genus Closterovirus. An analysis of the genome sequence confirmed that GLRaV-3 has an unusually long 5'NTR of 737 nt compared to other monopartite members of the family Closteroviridae, with distinct differences in the sequence and predicted secondary structure when compared to the corresponding region of the GLRaV-3 isolate from South Africa.
PMCID: PMC2922190  PMID: 20682046
8.  Complete Genome Sequence and Analyses of the Subgenomic RNAs of Sweet Potato Chlorotic Stunt Virus Reveal Several New Features for the Genus Crinivirus 
Journal of Virology  2002;76(18):9260-9270.
The complete nucleotide sequences of genomic RNA1 (9,407 nucleotides [nt]) and RNA2 (8,223 nt) of Sweet potato chlorotic stunt virus (SPCSV; genus Crinivirus, family Closteroviridae) were determined, revealing that SPCSV possesses the second largest identified positive-strand single-stranded RNA genome among plant viruses after Citrus tristeza virus. RNA1 contains two overlapping open reading frames (ORFs) that encode the replication module, consisting of the putative papain-like cysteine proteinase, methyltransferase, helicase, and polymerase domains. RNA2 contains the Closteroviridae hallmark gene array represented by a heat shock protein homologue (Hsp70h), a protein of 50 to 60 kDa depending on the virus, the major coat protein, and a divergent copy of the coat protein. This grouping resembles the genome organization of Lettuce infectious yellows virus (LIYV), the only other crinivirus for which the whole genomic sequence is available. However, in striking contrast to LIYV, the two genomic RNAs of SPCSV contained nearly identical 208-nt-long 3′ terminal sequences, and the ORF for a putative small hydrophobic protein present in LIYV RNA2 was found at a novel position in SPCSV RNA1. Furthermore, unlike any other plant or animal virus, SPCSV carried an ORF for a putative RNase III-like protein (ORF2 on RNA1). Several subgenomic RNAs (sgRNAs) were detected in SPCSV-infected plants, indicating that the sgRNAs formed from RNA1 accumulated earlier in infection than those of RNA2. The 5′ ends of seven sgRNAs were cloned and sequenced by an approach that provided compelling evidence that the sgRNAs are capped in infected plants, a novel finding for members of the Closteroviridae.
PMCID: PMC136465  PMID: 12186910
9.  Transcriptional strategy of closteroviruses: mapping the 5' termini of the citrus tristeza virus subgenomic RNAs. 
Journal of Virology  1997;71(8):6233-6236.
Citrus tristeza virus (CTV) induces formation of a nested set of at least nine 3' coterminal subgenomic RNAs (sgRNAs) in infected tissue. The organization and expression of the 19,296-nucleotide (nt) CTV genome resembles that of coronaviruses, with polyprotein processing, translational frameshifting, and multiple sgRNA formation, but phylogenetically the CTV polymerase, like polymerases of other closteroviruses, belongs to the Sindbis virus-like lineage of RNA virus polymerases. Both positive-strand RNA virus supergroups, coronaviruses and Sindbis-like viruses, utilize different mechanisms of transcription. To address the mechanism of CTV transcription, 5' termini for the two most abundant sgRNAs, 1.5 and 0.9 kb, respectively, were mapped by runoff reverse transcription. The two sgRNAs were demonstrated to have 48- and 38-nt 5' untranslated regions (5'-UTRs), respectively. The 5'-UTR for the 1.5-kb RNA was cloned, sequenced, and demonstrated to be colinear with the 48-nt genomic sequence upstream of the initiator codon of the respective open reading frame 10, i.e., to be of continuous template origin. The data obtained suggest that the sgRNA transcription of CTV is dissimilar from the coronavirus transcription and consistent with the transcriptional mechanism of other Sindbis-like viruses. Thus, the Sindbis virus-like mechanism of transcription of the positive-strand RNA genomes might be successfully utilized by the closterovirus genome of up to 19.3 kb with multiple sgRNAs.
PMCID: PMC191890  PMID: 9223524
10.  Rubella Virus Nonstructural Protein Protease Domains Involved in trans- and cis-Cleavage Activities 
Journal of Virology  2000;74(12):5412-5423.
Rubella virus (RV) genomic RNA contains two large open reading frames (ORFs): a 5′-proximal ORF encoding nonstructural proteins (NSPs) that function primarily in viral RNA replication and a 3′-proximal ORF encoding the viral structural proteins. Proteolytic processing of the RV NSP ORF translation product p200 is essential for viral replication. Processing of p200 to two mature products (p150 and p90) in the order NH2-p150-p90-COOH is carried out by an RV-encoded protease residing in the C-terminal region of p150. The RV nonstructural protease (NS-pro) belongs to a viral papain-like protease family that cleaves the polyprotein both in trans and in cis. A conserved X domain of unknown function was found from previous sequence analysis to be associated with NS-pro. To define the domains responsible for cis- and trans-cleavage activities and the function of the X domain in terms of protease activity, an in vitro translation system was employed. We demonstrated that the NSP region from residue 920 to 1296 is necessary for trans-cleavage activity. The domain from residue 920 to 1020 is not required for cis-cleavage activity. The X domain located between residues 834 and 940, outside the regions responsible for both cis- and trans-cleavage activities of NS-pro, was found to be important for NS-pro trans-cleavage activity but not for cis-cleavage activity. Analysis of sequence homology and secondary structure of the RV NS-pro catalytic region reveals a folding structure similar to that of papain.
PMCID: PMC112025  PMID: 10823845
11.  The Product of the Respiratory Syncytial Virus M2 Gene ORF1 Enhances Readthrough of Intergenic Junctions during Viral Transcription 
Journal of Virology  1998;72(1):520-526.
The mRNA encoding the M2 protein of respiratory syncytial (RS) virus contains two open reading frames (ORFs). ORF1 encodes the 22-kDa structural protein, M2, and ORF2 has the potential to encode a 10-kDa protein (90 amino acids). Using a vaccinia virus T7 expression system, we examined the RNA synthetic activities of mono- and dicistronic subgenomic replicons of RS virus by direct metabolic labeling of RNA in the presence and absence of the products of ORF1 and ORF2. In the absence of ORF1 and ORF2, the negative- and positive-sense products of genomic RNA replication and positive-sense polyadenylated mRNA(s) were synthesized. Expression of the whole M2 transcription unit (containing ORF1 and ORF2) or ORF1 alone caused an increase in the synthesis of polyadenylated mRNA, the majority of which was due to a substantial increase in the quantity of polycistronic mRNAs generated by the polymerase failing to terminate at gene end signals. In agreement with previous reports, the ORF2 product was found to inhibit viral RNA replication and mRNA transcription. These data show that the M2 protein functions as a transcriptional antiterminator that enhances the ability of the viral RNA polymerase to read through intergenic junctions. The role of such a function during the viral life cycle is discussed.
PMCID: PMC109403  PMID: 9420254
12.  Norovirus Regulation of the Innate Immune Response and Apoptosis Occurs via the Product of the Alternative Open Reading Frame 4 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(12):e1002413.
Small RNA viruses have evolved many mechanisms to increase the capacity of their short genomes. Here we describe the identification and characterization of a novel open reading frame (ORF4) encoded by the murine norovirus (MNV) subgenomic RNA, in an alternative reading frame overlapping the VP1 coding region. ORF4 is translated during virus infection and the resultant protein localizes predominantly to the mitochondria. Using reverse genetics we demonstrated that expression of ORF4 is not required for virus replication in tissue culture but its loss results in a fitness cost since viruses lacking the ability to express ORF4 restore expression upon repeated passage in tissue culture. Functional analysis indicated that the protein produced from ORF4 antagonizes the innate immune response to infection by delaying the upregulation of a number of cellular genes activated by the innate pathway, including IFN-Beta. Apoptosis in the RAW264.7 macrophage cell line was also increased during virus infection in the absence of ORF4 expression. In vivo analysis of the WT and mutant virus lacking the ability to express ORF4 demonstrated an important role for ORF4 expression in infection and virulence. STAT1-/- mice infected with a virus lacking the ability to express ORF4 showed a delay in the onset of clinical signs when compared to mice infected with WT virus. Quantitative PCR and histopathological analysis of samples from these infected mice demonstrated that infection with a virus not expressing ORF4 results in a delayed infection in this system. In light of these findings we propose the name virulence factor 1, VF1 for this protein. The identification of VF1 represents the first characterization of an alternative open reading frame protein for the calicivirus family. The immune regulatory function of the MNV VF1 protein provide important perspectives for future research into norovirus biology and pathogenesis.
Author Summary
This report describes the identification and characterization of a novel protein of unknown function encoded by a mouse virus genetically similar to human noroviruses. This gene is unique to the mouse virus and occupies the same part of the genome that codes for the major capsid protein. The protein that we have described as virulence factor 1 (VF1) is found in all murine norovirus isolates, absent in all human strains but is indeed expressed during infection. Its expression enables MNV-1 to establish efficient infection of its natural host through interference with interferon-mediated response pathways and apoptosis. Our data would indicate that the VF1 protein is multi-functional with an ability to modulate the host's response to infection. Murine noroviruses are frequently used firstly as a model to study human norovirus replication and pathogenesis, studies hampered by their inability to replicate in cell culture. Secondly, persistent infection of laboratory animals with murine norovirus may affect other models of disease using experimental mice. The role of VF1 in infection and pathology in the differential outcome of infection is the source of continued research in our laboratory.
PMCID: PMC3234229  PMID: 22174679
13.  Genomic Characterization of a Novel Virus of the Family Tymoviridae Isolated from Mosquitoes 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e39845.
The family Tymoviridae comprises three plant virus genera, including Tymovirus, Marafivirus, and Maculavirus, which are found in most parts of the world and cause severe agricultural losses. We describe a putatively novel member of the family Tymoviridae, which is isolated from mosquitoes (Culex spp.), referred to as CuTLV.
Methods and Results
The CuTLV was isolated by cell culture, which replicates and causes cytopathic effects in Aedes albopictus C6/36 cells, but not in mammalian BHK-21 or Vero cells. The complete 6471 nucleotide sequence of CuTLV was determined. The genome of CuTLV is predicted to contain three open reading frames (ORFs). The largest ORF1 is 5307 nucleotides (nt) in length and encodes a putative polypeptide of 1769 amino acids (aa), which contains the conserved motifs for the methyltransferase (MTR), Tymovirus endopeptidase (PRO), helicase (HEL), and RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) of the replication-associated proteins (RPs) of positive-stranded RNA viruses. In contrast, the ORF1 sequence does not contain the so-called “tymobox” or “marafibox”, the conserved subgenomic RNA promoter present in all tymoviruses or marafiviruses, respectively. ORF2 and ORF3 putatively encode a 248-aa coat protein (CP) and a proline-rich 149-aa polypeptide. The whole genomic nucleotide identity of CuTLV with other members of family Tymoviridae ranged from 46.2% (ChiYMV) to 52.4% (GFkV). Phylogenetic analysis based on the putative RP and CP genes of CuTLV demonstrated that the virus is most closely related to viruses in the genus Maculavirus.
The CuTLV is a novel virus related to members of the family Tymoviridae, with molecular characters that are distinct from those of tymoviruses, marafiviruses, and other maculaviruses or macula-like viruses. This is the first report of the isolation of a Tymoviridae-like virus from mosquitoes. Further investigations are required to clarify the origin, replication strategy, and the public health or agricultural importance of the CuTLV.
PMCID: PMC3407206  PMID: 22848363
14.  Reverse Genetics Mediated Recovery of Infectious Murine Norovirus 
Human noroviruses are responsible for most cases of human gastroenteritis (GE) worldwide and are recurrent problem in environments where close person-to-person contact cannot be avoided 1, 2. During the last few years an increase in the incidence of outbreaks in hospitals has been reported, causing significant disruptions to their operational capacity as well as large economic losses. The identification of new antiviral approaches has been limited due to the inability of human noroviruses to complete a productive infection in cell culture 3. The recent isolation of a murine norovirus (MNV), closely related to human norovirus 4 but which can be propagated in cells 5 has opened new avenues for the investigation of these pathogens 6, 7.
MNV replication results in the synthesis of new positive sense genomic and subgenomic RNA molecules, the latter of which corresponds to the last third of the viral genome (Figure 1). MNV contains four different open reading frames (ORFs), of which ORF1 occupies most of the genome and encodes seven non-structural proteins (NS1-7) released from a polyprotein precursor. ORF2 and ORF3 are contained within the subgenomic RNA region and encode the capsid proteins (VP1 and VP2, respectively) (Figure 1). Recently, we have identified that additional ORF4 overlapping ORF2 but in a different reading frame is functional and encodes for a mitochondrial localised virulence factor (VF1) 8.
Replication for positive sense RNA viruses, including noroviruses, takes place in the cytoplasm resulting in the synthesis of new uncapped RNA genomes. To promote viral translation, viruses exploit different strategies aimed at recruiting the cellular protein synthesis machinery 9-11. Interestingly, norovirus translation is driven by the multifunctional viral protein-primer VPg covalently linked to the 5' end of both genomic and subgenomic RNAs 12-14. This sophisticated mechanism of translation is likely to be a major factor in the limited efficiency of viral recovery by conventional reverse genetics approaches.
Here we report two different strategies based on the generation of murine norovirus-1 (referred to as MNV herewith) transcripts capped at the 5' end. One of the methods involves both in vitro synthesis and capping of viral RNA, whereas the second approach entails the transcription of MNV cDNA in cells expressing T7 RNA polymerase. The availability of these reverse genetics systems for the study of MNV and a small animal model has provided an unprecedented ability to dissect the role of viral sequences in replication and pathogenesis 15-17.
PMCID: PMC3471295  PMID: 22760450
Virology;  Issue 64;  Immunology;  Genetics;  Infection;  RNA virus;  VPg;  RNA capping;  T7 RNA polymerase;  calicivirus;  norovirus
15.  The essential genome of a bacterium 
This study reports the essential Caulobacter genome at 8 bp resolution determined by saturated transposon mutagenesis and high-throughput sequencing. This strategy is applicable to full genome essentiality studies in a broad class of bacterial species.
The essential Caulobacter genome was determined at 8 bp resolution using hyper-saturated transposon mutagenesis coupled with high-throughput sequencing.Essential protein-coding sequences comprise 90% of the essential genome; the remaining 10% comprising essential non-coding RNA sequences, gene regulatory elements and essential genome replication features.Of the 3876 annotated open reading frames (ORFs), 480 (12.4%) were essential ORFs, 3240 (83.6%) were non-essential ORFs and 156 (4.0%) were ORFs that severely impacted fitness when mutated.The essential elements are preferentially positioned near the origin and terminus of the Caulobacter chromosome.This high-resolution strategy is applicable to high-throughput, full genome essentiality studies and large-scale genetic perturbation experiments in a broad class of bacterial species.
The regulatory events that control polar differentiation and cell-cycle progression in the bacterium Caulobacter crescentus are highly integrated, and they have to occur in the proper order (McAdams and Shapiro, 2011). Components of the core regulatory circuit are largely known. Full discovery of its essential genome, including non-coding, regulatory and coding elements, is a prerequisite for understanding the complete regulatory network of this bacterial cell. We have identified all the essential coding and non-coding elements of the Caulobacter chromosome using a hyper-saturated transposon mutagenesis strategy that is scalable and can be readily extended to obtain rapid and accurate identification of the essential genome elements of any sequenced bacterial species at a resolution of a few base pairs.
We engineered a Tn5 derivative transposon (Tn5Pxyl) that carries at one end an inducible outward pointing Pxyl promoter (Christen et al, 2010). We showed that this transposon construct inserts into the genome randomly where it can activate or disrupt transcription at the site of integration, depending on the insertion orientation. DNA from hundred of thousands of transposon insertion sites reading outward into flanking genomic regions was parallel PCR amplified and sequenced by Illumina paired-end sequencing to locate the insertion site in each mutant strain (Figure 1). A single sequencing run on DNA from a mutagenized cell population yielded 118 million raw sequencing reads. Of these, >90 million (>80%) read outward from the transposon element into adjacent genomic DNA regions and the insertion site could be mapped with single nucleotide resolution. This yielded the location and orientation of 428 735 independent transposon insertions in the 4-Mbp Caulobacter genome.
Within non-coding sequences of the Caulobacter genome, we detected 130 non-disruptable DNA segments between 90 and 393 bp long in addition to all essential promoter elements. Among 27 previously identified and validated sRNAs (Landt et al, 2008), three were contained within non-disruptable DNA segments and another three were partially disruptable, that is, insertions caused a notable growth defect. Two additional small RNAs found to be essential are the transfer-messenger RNA (tmRNA) and the ribozyme RNAseP (Landt et al, 2008). In addition to the 8 non-disruptable sRNAs, 29 out of the 130 intergenic essential non-coding sequences contained non-redundant tRNA genes; duplicated tRNA genes were non-essential. We also identified two non-disruptable DNA segments within the chromosomal origin of replication. Thus, we resolved essential non-coding RNAs, tRNAs and essential replication elements within the origin region of the chromosome. An additional 90 non-disruptable small genome elements of currently unknown function were identified. Eighteen of these are conserved in at least one closely related species. Only 2 could encode a protein of over 50 amino acids.
For each of the 3876 annotated open reading frames (ORFs), we analyzed the distribution, orientation, and genetic context of transposon insertions. There are 480 essential ORFs and 3240 non-essential ORFs. In addition, there were 156 ORFs that severely impacted fitness when mutated. The 8-bp resolution allowed a dissection of the essential and non-essential regions of the coding sequences. Sixty ORFs had transposon insertions within a significant portion of their 3′ region but lacked insertions in the essential 5′ coding region, allowing the identification of non-essential protein segments. For example, transposon insertions in the essential cell-cycle regulatory gene divL, a tyrosine kinase, showed that the last 204 C-terminal amino acids did not impact viability, confirming previous reports that the C-terminal ATPase domain of DivL is dispensable for viability (Reisinger et al, 2007; Iniesta et al, 2010). In addition, we found that 30 out of 480 (6.3%) of the essential ORFs appear to be shorter than the annotated ORF, suggesting that these are probably mis-annotated.
Among the 480 ORFs essential for growth on rich media, there were 10 essential transcriptional regulatory proteins, including 5 previously identified cell-cycle regulators (McAdams and Shapiro, 2003; Holtzendorff et al, 2004; Collier and Shapiro, 2007; Gora et al, 2010; Tan et al, 2010) and 5 uncharacterized predicted transcription factors. In addition, two RNA polymerase sigma factors RpoH and RpoD, as well as the anti-sigma factor ChrR, which mitigates rpoE-dependent stress response under physiological growth conditions (Lourenco and Gomes, 2009), were also found to be essential. Thus, a set of 10 transcription factors, 2 RNA polymerase sigma factors and 1 anti-sigma factor are the core essential transcriptional regulators for growth on rich media. To further characterize the core components of the Caulobacter cell-cycle control network, we identified all essential regulatory sequences and operon transcripts. Altogether, the 480 essential protein-coding and 37 essential RNA-coding Caulobacter genes are organized into operons such that 402 individual promoter regions are sufficient to regulate their expression. Of these 402 essential promoters, the transcription start sites (TSSs) of 105 were previously identified (McGrath et al, 2007).
The essential genome features are non-uniformly distributed on the Caulobacter genome and enriched near the origin and the terminus regions. In contrast, the chromosomal positions of the published E. coli essential coding sequences (Rocha, 2004) are preferentially located at either side of the origin (Figure 4A). This indicates that there are selective pressures on chromosomal positioning of some essential elements (Figure 4A).
The strategy described in this report could be readily extended to quickly determine the essential genome for a large class of bacterial species.
Caulobacter crescentus is a model organism for the integrated circuitry that runs a bacterial cell cycle. Full discovery of its essential genome, including non-coding, regulatory and coding elements, is a prerequisite for understanding the complete regulatory network of a bacterial cell. Using hyper-saturated transposon mutagenesis coupled with high-throughput sequencing, we determined the essential Caulobacter genome at 8 bp resolution, including 1012 essential genome features: 480 ORFs, 402 regulatory sequences and 130 non-coding elements, including 90 intergenic segments of unknown function. The essential transcriptional circuitry for growth on rich media includes 10 transcription factors, 2 RNA polymerase sigma factors and 1 anti-sigma factor. We identified all essential promoter elements for the cell cycle-regulated genes. The essential elements are preferentially positioned near the origin and terminus of the chromosome. The high-resolution strategy used here is applicable to high-throughput, full genome essentiality studies and large-scale genetic perturbation experiments in a broad class of bacterial species.
PMCID: PMC3202797  PMID: 21878915
functional genomics; next-generation sequencing; systems biology; transposon mutagenesis
16.  Molecular characterization of closteroviruses infecting Cordyline fruticosa L. in Hawaii 
In Hawaii, common green ti plants (Cordyline fruticosa L.) have been shown to harbor Cordyline virus 1 (CoV-1) which, along with Little cherry virus 1 (LChV-1), and Grapevine leafroll-associated virus 7 (GLRaV-7), form a distinct clade within the family Closteroviridae. Preliminary work has indicated that, aside from CoV-1, three additional closteroviruses may infect common green ti plants in Hawaii. In this study, pyrosequencing was used to characterize the genomes of closteroviruses infecting a single common green ti plant. The sequence data confirmed the presence of CoV-1 as well as three additional closteroviruses. Although all four viruses had the same general genome organization, the sequence divergence between the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, heat shock protein 70 homolog, and coat protein ranged from 22 to 61%, indicating these represent four distinct closterovirus species. The names CoV-2, CoV-3, and CoV-4 are proposed for the three new viruses. Phylogenetic analyses placed CoV-2, CoV-3, and CoV-4 in the same clade as CoV-1, LChV-1, and GLRaV-7.
PMCID: PMC3588190  PMID: 23467405
pyrosequencing; Closteroviridae; Velarivirus, Cordyline; ti ringspot
17.  Transcription Strategy in a Closterovirus: a Novel 5′-Proximal Controller Element of Citrus Tristeza Virus Produces 5′- and 3′-Terminal Subgenomic RNAs and Differs from 3′ Open Reading Frame Controller Elements†  
Journal of Virology  2003;77(1):340-352.
Citrus tristeza virus (CTV) produces more than thirty 3′- or 5′-terminal subgenomic RNAs (sgRNAs) that accumulate to various extents during replication in protoplasts and plants. Among the most unusual species are two abundant populations of small 5′-terminal sgRNAs of approximately 800 nucleotides (nt) termed low-molecular-weight tristeza (LMT1 and LMT2) RNAs. Remarkably, CTV replicons with all 10 3′ genes deleted produce only the larger LMT1 RNAs. These 5′-terminal positive-sense sgRNAs do not have corresponding negative strands and were hypothesized to be produced by premature termination during plus-strand genomic RNA synthesis. We characterized a cis-acting element that controls the production of the LMT1 RNAs. Since manipulation of this cis-acting element in its native position (the L-ProI region of replicase) was not possible because the mutations negatively affect replication, a region (5′TR) surrounding the putative termination sites (nt ∼550 to 1000) was duplicated in the 3′ end of a CTV replicon to allow characterization. The duplicated sequence continued to produce a 5′-terminal plus-strand sgRNA, here much larger (∼11 kb), apparently by termination. Surprisingly, a new 3′-terminal sgRNA was observed from the duplicated 5′TR. A large 3′-terminal sgRNA resulting from the putative promoter activity of the native 5′TR was not observed, possibly because of the down-regulation of a promoter ∼19 kb from the 3′ terminus. However, we were able to observe a sgRNA produced from the native 5′TR of a small defective RNA, which placed the native 5′TR closer to the 3′ terminus, demonstrating sgRNA promoter activity of the native 5′TR. Deletion mutagenesis mapped the promoter and the terminator activities of the 5′TR (in the 3′ position in the CTV replicon) to a 57-nt region, which was folded by the MFOLD computer program into two stem-loops. Mutations in the putative stem-loop structures equally reduced or prevented production of both the 3′- and 5′-terminal sgRNAs. These mutations, when introduced in frame in the native 5′TR, similarly abolished the synthesis of the LMT1 RNAs and presumably the large 3′-terminal sgRNA while having no impact on replication, demonstrating that neither 5′- nor 3′-terminal sgRNA is necessary for replication of the replicon or full-length CTV in protoplasts. Differences between the 5′TR, which produced two plus-strand sgRNAs, and the cis-acting elements controlling the 3′ open reading frames, which produced additional minus-strand sgRNAs corresponding to the 3′-terminal mRNAs, suggest that the different sgRNA controller elements had different origins in the modular evolution of closteroviruses.
PMCID: PMC140645  PMID: 12477839
18.  Conundrum of the Lack of Defective RNAs (dRNAs) Associated with Tobamovirus Infections: dRNAs That Can Move Are Not Replicated by the Wild-Type Virus; dRNAs That Are Replicated by the Wild-Type Virus Do Not Move† 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(12):5518-5525.
Two classes of artificially constructed defective RNAs (dRNAs) of Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) were examined in planta with helper viruses that expressed one (183 kDa) or both (126 and 183 kDa) of the replicase-associated proteins. The first class of artificially constructed dRNAs had the helicase and polymerase (POL) domains deleted; the second had an intact 126-kDa protein open reading frame (ORF). Despite extremely high levels of replication in protoplasts, the first class of dRNAs did not accumulate in plants. The dRNAs with an intact 126-kDa protein ORF were replicated at moderate levels in protoplasts and in planta when supported by a TMV mutant that expressed the 183-kDa protein but not the 126-kDa protein (183F). These dRNAs were not supported by helper viruses expressing both replicase-associated proteins. De novo dRNAs were generated in plants infected by 183F but not in plants infected with virus with the wild-type replicase. These novel dRNAs each contained a new stop codon near the location of the wild-type stop codon for the 126-kDa protein and had most of the POL domain deleted. The fact that only dRNAs that contained a complete 126-kDa protein ORF moved systemically suggests that expression of a functional 126-kDa protein or the presence of certain sequences and/or structures within this ORF is required for movement of dRNAs. At least two factors may contribute to the lack of naturally occurring dRNAs in association with wild-type TMV infections: an inability of TMV to support dRNAs that can move in plants and the inability of dRNAs that can be replicated by TMV to move in plants.
PMCID: PMC114264  PMID: 11356959
19.  The closterovirus-derived gene expression and RNA interference vectors as tools for research and plant biotechnology 
Important progress in understanding replication, interactions with host plants, and evolution of closteroviruses enabled engineering of several vectors for gene expression and virus-induced gene silencing. Due to the broad host range of closteroviruses, these vectors expanded vector applicability to include important woody plants such as citrus and grapevine. Furthermore, large closterovirus genomes offer genetic capacity and stability unrivaled by other plant viral vectors. These features provided immense opportunities for using closterovirus vectors for the functional genomics studies and pathogen control in economically valuable crops. This review briefly summarizes advances in closterovirus research during the last decade, explores the relationships between virus biology and vector design, and outlines the most promising directions for future application of closterovirus vectors.
PMCID: PMC3622897  PMID: 23596441
viral vector; closteroviruses; RNAi; Beet yellows virus; Citrus tristeza virus; Grapevine leafroll-associated virus-2
20.  Subgenomic RNAs mediate expression of cistrons located internally on the genomic RNA of tobacco necrosis virus strain A. 
Journal of Virology  1992;66(11):6419-6428.
Upon infection of tobacco protoplasts, the genomic RNA of tobacco necrosis virus strain A (TNV-A) accumulates linearly in time. The accumulation patterns of the two subgenomic RNAs resemble those of endogenous mRNAs in that the peak levels are reached after several hours. The accumulation of the 1.3-kb subgenomic RNA is delayed by 1 h compared with that of the 1.6-kb subgenomic RNA, which illustrates the important role of the subgenomic RNAs in the regulation of TNV-A gene expression. The locations of the 5' nucleotides of the subgenomic RNAs reveal that the 5'-proximal cistrons of the 1.6- and 1.3-kb RNAs encode an 8-kDa protein from open reading frame (ORF) 3 and the coat protein from ORF 5, respectively. In a wheat germ translation system, a synthetic transcript resembling the 1.6-kb RNA expresses both ORFs 3 and 4. Moreover, the synthesis of the 6-kDa protein from ORF 4 depends on the translation efficiency of ORF 3, suggesting that in vivo, ORFs 3 and 4 are both expressed from the 1.6-kb RNA. The major in vitro translation product of TNV-A genomic RNA is the coat protein. We show that the region upstream of the coat protein promotes internal initiation of translation in vitro. However, this region is functionally inactive in vivo, suggesting that TNV-A genomic RNA is not important for coat protein synthesis in plants.
PMCID: PMC240134  PMID: 1404597
21.  Regulation of the ORF61 Promoter and ORF61 Functions in Varicella-Zoster Virus Replication and Pathogenesis▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(15):7560-7572.
Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) open reading frame 61 (ORF61) encodes a protein that transactivates viral and cellular promoters in transient-transfection assays and is the ortholog of herpes simplex virus ICP0. In this report, we mapped the ORF61 promoter and investigated its regulation by viral and cellular proteins in transient-expression experiments and by mutagenesis of the VZV genome (parent Oka strain). The 5′ boundary of the minimal ORF61 promoter required for IE62 transactivation was mapped to position −95 relative to the mRNA start site, and three noncanonical GT-rich Sp1-binding sites were documented to occur within the region comprising positions −95 to −45. Contributions of the three Sp1-binding-site motifs, designated Sp1a, Sp1b, and Sp1c, to ORF61 expression and viral replication were varied despite their similar sequences. Two sites, Sp1a and Sp1c, functioned synergistically. When both sites were mutated in the pOka genome to produce pOka-61proΔSp1ac, the mutant virus expressed significantly less ORF61 protein. Using this mutant to investigate ORF61 functions resulted in reductions in the expression levels of IE proteins, viral kinases ORF47 and ORF66, and the major glycoprotein gE, with the most impact on gE. Virion morphogenesis appeared to be intact despite minimal ORF61 expression. Pretreating melanoma cells with sodium butyrate enhanced titers of pOka-61proΔSp1ac but not pOka, suggesting that ORF61 has a role in histone deacetylase inhibition. Growth of pOka-61proΔSp1ac was impaired in SCIDhu skin xenografts, indicating that the regulation of the ORF61 promoter by Sp1 family proteins is important for ORF61 expression in vivo and that ORF61 contributes to VZV virulence at skin sites of replication.
PMCID: PMC2708633  PMID: 19457996
22.  The Varicella-Zoster Virus Portal Protein Is Essential for Cleavage and Packaging of Viral DNA 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(14):7973-7986.
The varicella-zoster virus (VZV) open reading frame 54 (ORF54) gene encodes an 87-kDa monomer that oligomerizes to form the VZV portal protein, pORF54. pORF54 was hypothesized to perform a function similar to that of a previously described herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) homolog, pUL6. pUL6 and the associated viral terminase are required for processing of concatemeric viral DNA and packaging of individual viral genomes into preformed capsids. In this report, we describe two VZV bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) constructs with ORF54 gene deletions, Δ54L (full ORF deletion) and Δ54S (partial internal deletion). The full deletion of ORF54 likely disrupted essential adjacent genes (ORF53 and ORF55) and therefore could not be complemented on an ORF54-expressing cell line (ARPE54). In contrast, Δ54S was successfully propagated in ARPE54 cells but failed to replicate in parental, noncomplementing ARPE19 cells. Transmission electron microscopy confirmed the presence of only empty VZV capsids in Δ54S-infected ARPE19 cell nuclei. Similar to the HSV-1 genome, the VZV genome is composed of a unique long region (UL) and a unique short region (US) flanked by inverted repeats. DNA from cells infected with parental VZV (VZVLUC strain) contained the predicted UL and US termini, whereas cells infected with Δ54S contained neither. This result demonstrates that Δ54S is not able to process and package viral DNA, thus making pORF54 an excellent chemotherapeutic target. In addition, the utility of BAC constructs Δ54L and Δ54S as tools for the isolation of site-directed ORF54 mutants was demonstrated by recombineering single-nucleotide changes within ORF54 that conferred resistance to VZV-specific portal protein inhibitors.
IMPORTANCE Antivirals with novel mechanisms of action would provide additional therapeutic options to treat human herpesvirus infections. Proteins involved in the herpesviral DNA encapsidation process have become promising antiviral targets. Previously, we described a series of N-α-methylbenzyl-N′-aryl thiourea analogs that target the VZV portal protein (pORF54) and prevent viral replication in vitro. To better understand the mechanism of action of these compounds, it is important to define the structural and functional characteristics of the VZV portal protein. In contrast to HSV, no VZV mutants have been described for any of the seven essential DNA encapsidation genes. The VZV ORF54 deletion mutant described in this study represents the first VZV encapsidation mutant reported to date. We demonstrate that the deletion mutant can serve as a platform for the isolation of portal mutants via recombineering and provide a strategy for more in-depth studies of VZV portal structure and function.
PMCID: PMC4097804  PMID: 24807720
23.  Discovery of a small arterivirus gene that overlaps the GP5 coding sequence and is important for virus production 
The Journal of General Virology  2011;92(Pt 5):1097-1106.
The arterivirus family (order Nidovirales) of single-stranded, positive-sense RNA viruses includes porcine respiratory and reproductive syndrome virus and equine arteritis virus (EAV). Their replicative enzymes are translated from their genomic RNA, while their seven structural proteins are encoded by a set of small, partially overlapping genes in the genomic 3′-proximal region. The latter are expressed via synthesis of a set of subgenomic mRNAs that, in general, are functionally monocistronic (except for a bicistronic mRNA encoding the E and GP2 proteins). ORF5, which encodes the major glycoprotein GP5, has been used extensively for phylogenetic analyses. However, an in-depth computational analysis now reveals the arterivirus-wide conservation of an additional AUG-initiated ORF, here termed ORF5a, that overlaps the 5′ end of ORF5. The pattern of substitutions across sequence alignments indicated that ORF5a is subject to functional constraints at the amino acid level, while an analysis of substitutions at synonymous sites in ORF5 revealed a greatly reduced frequency of substitution in the portion of ORF5 that is overlapped by ORF5a. The 43–64 aa ORF5a protein and GP5 are probably expressed from the same subgenomic mRNA, via a translation initiation mechanism involving leaky ribosomal scanning. Inactivation of ORF5a expression by reverse genetics yielded a severely crippled EAV mutant, which displayed lower titres and a tiny plaque phenotype. These defects, which could be partially complemented in ORF5a-expressing cells, indicate that the novel protein, which may be the eighth structural protein of arteriviruses, is expressed and important for arterivirus infection.
PMCID: PMC3139419  PMID: 21307223
24.  Isolation of Enzymatically Active Replication Complexes from Feline Calicivirus-Infected Cells 
Journal of Virology  2002;76(17):8582-8595.
A membranous fraction that could synthesize viral RNA in vitro in the presence of magnesium salt, ribonucleotides, and an ATP-regenerating system was isolated from feline calicivirus (FCV)-infected cells. The enzymatically active component of this fraction was designated FCV replication complexes (RCs), by analogy to other positive-strand RNA viruses. The newly synthesized RNA was characterized by Northern blot analysis, which demonstrated the production of both full-length (8.0-kb) and subgenomic-length (2.5-kb) RNA molecules similar to those synthesized in FCV-infected cells. The identity of the viral proteins associated with the fraction was investigated. The 60-kDa VP1 major capsid protein was the most abundant viral protein detected. VP2, a minor structural protein encoded by open reading frame 3 (ORF3), was also present. Nonstructural proteins associated with the fraction included the precursor polypeptides Pro-Pol (76 kDa) and p30-VPg (43 kDa), as well as the mature nonstructural proteins p32 (derived from the N-terminal region of the ORF1 polyprotein), p30 (the putative “3A-like” protein), and p39 (the putative nucleoside triphosphatase). The isolation of enzymatically active RCs containing both viral and cellular proteins should facilitate efforts to dissect the contributions of the virus and the host to FCV RNA replication.
PMCID: PMC136418  PMID: 12163578
25.  Deletion analysis of brome mosaic virus 2a protein: effects on RNA replication and systemic spread. 
Journal of Virology  1991;65(6):2807-2815.
Brome mosaic virus (BMV) genomic RNA2 encodes the 94-kDa 2a protein, which is one of two BMV nonstructural proteins required for RNA replication and subgenomic mRNA transcription. 2a contains a central polymeraselike region, which has extensive sequence similarity with the Sindbis virus nsP4 and tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) 183-kDa replication proteins, and also contains N- and C-terminal flanking segments without counterparts in the Sindbis virus and TMV nonstructural proteins. To further investigate the roles of the central and flanking segments in 2a, we have constructed a series of deletion and frameshift mutants in a biologically active BMV RNA2 cDNA clone and tested their ability to support viral RNA replication in barley protoplasts and systemic infection in whole barley plants. The entire 125-amino-acid C-terminal segment following the polymeraselike region was dispensable for RNA replication and transcription. Within the 200-amino-acid N-terminal flanking segment, deletion of the first 50 residues dramatically reduced genomic and subgenomic RNA accumulation, and deletion of 100 or more residues abolished detectable RNA synthesis. All mutations removing residues from the central polymeraselike domain also blocked RNA replication in trans. Sequences required in cis for RNA2 replication or stability were found to occur within the first 300 nucleotides of the 2a coding region. In whole barley plants, systemic infection was inhibited even by 2a deletions that supported strong RNA replication in protoplasts. Some replication-competent 2a variants failed to spread to uninoculated leaves, while other showed 10- to 500-fold-reduced virus yield in both inoculated and uninoculated leaves. These reductions were not due to any defects in RNA2 encapsidation.
PMCID: PMC240898  PMID: 2033655

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