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1.  A glycolipid-anchored prion protein is endocytosed via clathrin-coated pits 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1994;125(6):1239-1250.
The cellular prion protein (PrPc) is a glycolipid-anchored, cell surface protein of unknown function, a posttranslationally modified isoform of which PrPSc is involved in the pathogenesis of Creutzfeldt- Jakob disease, scrapie, and other spongiform encephalopathies. We have shown previously that chPrP, a chicken homologue of mammalian PrPC, constitutively cycles between the cell surface and an endocytic compartment, with a transit time of approximately 60 min in cultured neuroblastoma cells. We now report that endocytosis of chPrP is mediated by clathrin-coated pits. Immunogold labeling of neuroblastoma cells demonstrates that the concentration of chPrP within 0.05 microns of coated pits is 3-5 times higher than over other areas of the plasma membrane. Moreover, gold particles can be seen within coated vesicles and deeply invaginated coated pits that are in the process of pinching off from the plasma membrane. ChPrP is also localized to coated pits in primary cultures of neurons and glia, and is found in coated vesicles purified from chicken brain. Finally, internalization of chPrP is reduced by 70% after neuroblastoma cells are incubated in hypertonic medium, a treatment that inhibits endocytosis by disrupting clathrin lattices. Caveolae, plasmalemmal invaginations in which several other glycolipid-anchored proteins are concentrated, are not seen in neuroblastoma cells analyzed by thin-section or deep-etch electron microscopy. Moreover, these cells do not express detectable levels of caveolin, a caveolar coat protein. Since chPrP lacks a cytoplasmic domain that could interact directly with the intracellular components of clathrin-coated pits, we propose that the polypeptide chain of chPrP associates with the extracellular domain of a transmembrane protein that contains a coated pit internalization signal.
PMCID: PMC2290925  PMID: 7911471
2.  Localization of Autocrine Motility Factor Receptor to Caveolae and Clathrin-independent Internalization of Its Ligand to Smooth Endoplasmic Reticulum 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  1998;9(7):1773-1786.
Autocrine motility factor receptor (AMF-R) is a cell surface receptor that is also localized to a smooth subdomain of the endoplasmic reticulum, the AMF-R tubule. By postembedding immunoelectron microscopy, AMF-R concentrates within smooth plasmalemmal vesicles or caveolae in both NIH-3T3 fibroblasts and HeLa cells. By confocal microscopy, cell surface AMF-R labeled by the addition of anti-AMF-R antibody to viable cells at 4°C exhibits partial colocalization with caveolin, confirming the localization of cell surface AMF-R to caveolae. Labeling of cell surface AMF-R by either anti-AMF-R antibody or biotinylated AMF (bAMF) exhibits extensive colocalization and after a pulse of 1–2 h at 37°C, bAMF accumulates in densely labeled perinuclear structures as well as fainter tubular structures that colocalize with AMF-R tubules. After a subsequent 2- to 4-h chase, bAMF is localized predominantly to AMF-R tubules. Cytoplasmic acidification, blocking clathrin-mediated endocytosis, results in the essentially exclusive distribution of internalized bAMF to AMF-R tubules. By confocal microscopy, the tubular structures labeled by internalized bAMF show complete colocalization with AMF-R tubules. bAMF internalized in the presence of a 10-fold excess of unlabeled AMF labels perinuclear punctate structures, which are therefore the product of fluid phase endocytosis, but does not label AMF-R tubules, demonstrating that bAMF targeting to AMF-R tubules occurs via a receptor-mediated pathway. By electron microscopy, bAMF internalized for 10 min is located to cell surface caveolae and after 30 min is present within smooth and rough endoplasmic reticulum tubules. AMF-R is therefore internalized via a receptor-mediated clathrin-independent pathway to smooth ER. The steady state localization of AMF-R to caveolae implicates these cell surface invaginations in AMF-R endocytosis.
PMCID: PMC25416  PMID: 9658170
3.  Ebolavirus Is Internalized into Host Cells via Macropinocytosis in a Viral Glycoprotein-Dependent Manner 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(9):e1001121.
Ebolavirus (EBOV) is an enveloped, single-stranded, negative-sense RNA virus that causes severe hemorrhagic fever with mortality rates of up to 90% in humans and nonhuman primates. Previous studies suggest roles for clathrin- or caveolae-mediated endocytosis in EBOV entry; however, ebolavirus virions are long, filamentous particles that are larger than the plasma membrane invaginations that characterize clathrin- or caveolae-mediated endocytosis. The mechanism of EBOV entry remains, therefore, poorly understood. To better understand Ebolavirus entry, we carried out internalization studies with fluorescently labeled, biologically contained Ebolavirus and Ebolavirus-like particles (Ebola VLPs), both of which resemble authentic Ebolavirus in their morphology. We examined the mechanism of Ebolavirus internalization by real-time analysis of these fluorescently labeled Ebolavirus particles and found that their internalization was independent of clathrin- or caveolae-mediated endocytosis, but that they co-localized with sorting nexin (SNX) 5, a marker of macropinocytosis-specific endosomes (macropinosomes). Moreover, the internalization of Ebolavirus virions accelerated the uptake of a macropinocytosis-specific cargo, was associated with plasma membrane ruffling, and was dependent on cellular GTPases and kinases involved in macropinocytosis. A pseudotyped vesicular stomatitis virus possessing the Ebolavirus glycoprotein (GP) also co-localized with SNX5 and its internalization and infectivity were affected by macropinocytosis inhibitors. Taken together, our data suggest that Ebolavirus is internalized into cells by stimulating macropinocytosis in a GP-dependent manner. These findings provide new insights into the lifecycle of Ebolavirus and may aid in the development of therapeutics for Ebolavirus infection.
Author Summary
Ebolavirus (EBOV) is an enveloped, single-stranded, negative-sense RNA virus that causes severe hemorrhagic fever with high mortality rates in humans and nonhuman primates. Previous studies suggest roles for clathrin- or caveolae-mediated endocytosis in EBOV entry; however, questions remain regarding the mechanism of EBOV entry. Here, we demonstrate that internalization of EBOV particles is independent of clathrin- or caveolae-mediated endocytosis. Specifically, we show that internalized EBOV particles co-localize with macropinocytosis-specific endosomes (macropinosomes) and that their entry is negatively affected by treatment with macropinocytosis inhibitors. Moreover, the internalization of Ebola virions accelerated the uptake of a macropinocytosis-specific cargo, was associated with plasma membrane ruffling, and was dependent on cellular GTPases and kinases involved in macropinocytosis. We further demonstrate that a pseudotyped vesicular stomatitis virus possessing the EBOV glycoprotein (GP) also co-localizes with macropinosomes and its internalization is similarly affected by macropinocytosis inhibitors. Our results indicate that EBOV uptake into cells involves the macropinocytic pathway and is GP-dependent. These findings provide new insights into the lifecycle of EBOV and may aid in the development of therapeutics for EBOV infection.
PMCID: PMC2944813  PMID: 20886108
4.  Antigen Load and Viral Sequence Diversification Determine the Functional Profile of HIV-1–Specific CD8+ T Cells 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(5):e100.
Virus-specific CD8+ T lymphocytes play a key role in the initial reduction of peak viremia during acute viral infections, but display signs of increasing dysfunction and exhaustion under conditions of chronic antigen persistence. It has been suggested that virus-specific CD8+ T cells with a “polyfunctional” profile, defined by the capacity to secrete multiple cytokines or chemokines, are most competent in controlling viral replication in chronic HIV-1 infection. We used HIV-1 infection as a model of chronic persistent viral infection to investigate the process of exhaustion and dysfunction of virus-specific CD8+ T cell responses on the single-epitope level over time, starting in primary HIV-1 infection.
Methods and Findings
We longitudinally analyzed the polyfunctional epitope-specific CD8+ T cell responses of 18 patients during primary HIV-1 infection before and after therapy initiation or sequence variation in the targeted epitope. Epitope-specific CD8+ T cells responded with multiple effector functions to antigenic stimulation during primary HIV-1 infection, but lost their polyfunctional capacity in response to antigen and up-regulated programmed death 1 (PD-1) expression with persistent viremic infection. This exhausted phenotype significantly decreased upon removal of stimulation by antigen, either in response to antiretroviral therapy or by reduction of epitope-specific antigen load in the presence of ongoing viral replication, as a consequence of in vivo selection of cytotoxic T lymphocyte escape mutations in the respective epitopes. Monofunctionality increased in CD8+ T cell responses directed against conserved epitopes from 49% (95% confidence interval 27%–72%) to 76% (56%–95%) (standard deviation [SD] of the effect size 0.71), while monofunctionality remained stable or slightly decreased for responses directed against escaped epitopes from 61% (47%–75%) to 56% (42%–70%) (SD of the effect size 0.18) (p < 0.05).
These data suggest that persistence of antigen can be the cause, rather than the consequence, of the functional impairment of virus-specific T cell responses observed during chronic HIV-1 infection, and underscore the importance of evaluating autologous viral sequences in studies aimed at investigating the relationship between virus-specific immunity and associated pathogenesis.
Marcus Altfeld and colleagues suggest that the exhaustion of virus-specific CD8+ T cells during chronic HIV infection likely results from the persistence of antigen.
Editors' Summary
Viruses are small infectious agents responsible for many human diseases, including acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Like other viruses, the human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1; the cause of AIDS) enters human cells and uses the cellular machinery to replicate before bursting out of its temporary home. During the initial stage of HIV infection, a particular group of cells in the human immune system, CD8+ T cells, are thought to be important in controlling the level of the virus. These immune system cells recognize pieces of viral protein called antigens displayed on the surface of infected cells; different subsets of CD8+ T cells recognize different antigens. When a CD8+ T cell recognizes its specific antigen (or more accurately, a small part of the antigen called an “epitope”), it releases cytotoxins (which kill the infected cells) and cytokines, proteins that stimulate CD8+ T cell proliferation and activate other parts of the immune system. With many viruses, when a person first becomes infected (an acute viral infection), antigen-specific CD8+ T cells completely clear the infection. But with HIV-1 and some other viruses, these cells do not manage to remove all the viruses from the body and a chronic (long-term) infection develops, during which the immune system is constantly exposed to viral antigen.
Why Was This Study Done?
In HIV-1 infections (and other chronic viral infections), virus-specific CD8+ T cells lose their ability to proliferate, to make cytokines, and to kill infected cells as patients progress to the long-term stages of infection. That is, the virus-specific CD8+ T cells gradually lose their “effector” functions and become functionally impaired or “exhausted.” “Polyfunctional” CD8+ T cells (those that release multiple cytokines in response to antigen) are believed to be essential for an effective CD8+ T cell response, so scientists trying to develop HIV-1 vaccines would like to stimulate the production of this type of cell. To do this they need to understand why these polyfunctional cells are lost during chronic infections. Is their loss the cause or the result of viral persistence? In other words, does the constant presence of viral antigen lead to the exhaustion of CD8+ T cells during chronic HIV infection? In this study, the researchers investigate this question by looking at the polyfunctionality of CD8+ cells responding to several different viral epitopes at various times during HIV-1 infection, starting very early after infection with HIV-1 had occurred.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers enrolled 18 patients recently infected with HIV-1 and analyzed their CD8+ T cell responses to specific epitopes at various times after enrollment using a technique called flow cytometry. They found that the epitope-specific CD8+ cells produced several effector proteins after antigen stimulation during the initial stage of HIV-1 infection, but lost their polyfunctionality in the face of persistent viral infection. The CD8+ T cells also increased their production of programmed death 1 (PD-1), a protein that has been shown to be associated with the functional impairment of CD8+ T cells. Some of the patients began antiretroviral therapy during the study, and the researchers found that this treatment, which reduced the viral load, reversed CD8+ T cell exhaustion. Finally, the appearance in the patients' blood of viruses that had made changes in the specific epitopes recognized by the CD8+ T cells to avoid being killed by these cells, also reversed the exhaustion of the T cells recognizing these particular epitopes.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the constant presence of HIV-1 antigen causes the functional impairment of virus-specific CD8+ T cell responses during chronic HIV-1 infections. Treatment with antiretroviral drugs reversed this functional impairment by reducing the amount of antigen in the patients. Similarly, the appearance of viruses with altered epitopes, which effectively reduced the amount of antigen recognized by those epitope-specific CD8+ T cells without reducing the viral load, also reversed T cell exhaustion. These results would not have been seen if the functional impairment of CD8+ cells were the cause rather than the result of antigen persistence. By providing new insights into how the T cell response to viruses evolves during persistent viral infections, these findings should help in the design of vaccines against HIV and other viruses that cause chronic viral infections.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
Read a related PLoS Medicine Research in Translation article
Learn more from the researchers' Web site, the Partners AIDS Research Center
Wikipedia has a page on cytotoxic T cells (note that Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
HIV InSite has comprehensive information on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including a detailed article on the immunopathogenesis of HIV infection
NAM, a UK registered charity, provides information about all aspects of HIV and AIDS, including a fact sheet on the stages of HIV infection and on the immune response to HIV
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on all aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on the stages of HIV infection
PMCID: PMC2365971  PMID: 18462013
5.  Formation of Wild-Type and Chimeric Influenza Virus-Like Particles following Simultaneous Expression of Only Four Structural Proteins 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(13):6154-6165.
We are studying the structural proteins and molecular interactions required for formation and release of influenza virus-like particles (VLPs) from the cell surface. To investigate these events, we generated a quadruple baculovirus recombinant that simultaneously expresses in Sf9 cells the hemagglutinin (HA), neuraminidase (NA), matrix (M1), and M2 proteins of influenza virus A/Udorn/72 (H3N2). Using this quadruple recombinant, we have been able to demonstrate by double-labeling immunofluorescence that matrix protein (M1) localizes in nuclei as well as at discrete areas of the plasma membrane where HA and NA colocalize at the cell surface. Western blot analysis of cell supernatant showed that M1, HA, and NA were secreted into the culture medium. Furthermore, these proteins comigrated in similar fractions when concentrated supernatant was subjected to differential centrifugation. Electron microscopic examination (EM) of these fractions revealed influenza VLPs bearing surface projections that closely resemble those of wild-type influenza virus. Immunogold labeling and EM demonstrated that the HA and NA were present on the surface of the VLPs. We further investigated the minimal number of structural proteins necessary for VLP assembly and release using single-gene baculovirus recombinants. Expression of M1 protein alone led to the release of vesicular particles, which in gradient centrifugation analysis migrated in a similar pattern to that of the VLPs. Immunoprecipitation of M1 protein from purified M1 vesicles, VLPs, or influenza virus showed that the relative amount of M1 protein associated with M1 vesicles or VLPs was higher than that associated with virions, suggesting that particle formation and budding is a very frequent event. Finally, the HA gene within the quadruple recombinant was replaced either by a gene encoding the G protein of vesicular stomatitis virus or by a hybrid gene containing the cytoplasmic tail and transmembrane domain of the HA and the ectodomain of the G protein. Each of these constructs was able to drive the assembly and release of VLPs, although enhanced recruitment of the G glycoprotein onto the surface of the particle was observed with the recombinant carrying a G/HA chimeric gene. The described approach to assembly of wild-type and chimeric influenza VLPs may provide a valuable tool for further investigation of viral morphogenesis and genome packaging as well as for the development of novel vaccines.
PMCID: PMC114331  PMID: 11390617
6.  Infectious entry pathway of influenza virus in a canine kidney cell line 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1981;91(3):601-613.
The entry of fowl plague virus, and avian influenza A virus, into Madin- Darby canine kidney (MDCK) cells was examined both biochemically and morphologically. At low multiplicity and 0 degrees C, viruses bound to the cell surface but were not internalized. Binding was not greatly dependent on the pH of the medium and reached an equilibrium level in 60-90 min. Over 90% of the bound viruses were removed by neuraminidase but not by proteases. When cells with prebound virus were warmed to 37 degrees C, part of the virus became resistant to removal b neuraminidase, with a half-time of 10-15 min. After a brief lag period, degraded viral material was released into the medium. The neuraminidase- resistant virus was capable of infecting the cells and probably did so by an intracellular route, since ammonium chloride, a lysosomotropic agent, blocked both the infection and the degradation of viral protein. When the entry process was observed by electron microscopy, viruses were seen bound primarily to microvilli on the cell surface at 0 degrees C and, after warming at 37 degrees C, were endocytosed in coated pits, coated vesicles, and large smooth-surfaced vacuoles. Viruses were also present in smooth-surfaced invaginations and small smooth-surfaced vesicles at both temperatures. At physiological pH, no fusion of the virus with the plasma membrane was observed. When prebound virus was incubated at a pH of 5.5 or below for 1 min at 37 degrees C, fusion was, however, detected by ferritin immunolabeling. t low multiplicity, 90% of the prebound virus became neuraminidase- resistant and was presumably fused after only 30 s at low pH. These experiments suggest that fowl plague virus enters MDCK cells by endocytosis in coated pits and coated vesicles and is transported to the lysosome where the low pH initiates a fusion reaction ultimately resulting in the transfer of the genome into the cytoplasm. The entry pathway of fowl plague virus thus resembles tht earlier described for Semliki Forest virus.
PMCID: PMC2112819  PMID: 7328111
7.  Tumor Endothelial Marker Imaging in Melanomas Using Dual-Tracer Fluorescence Molecular Imaging 
Cancer-specific endothelial markers available for intravascular binding are promising targets for new molecular therapies. In this study, a molecular imaging approach of quantifying endothelial marker concentrations (EMCI) is developed and tested in highly light-absorbing melanomas. The approach involves injection of targeted imaging tracer in conjunction with an untargeted tracer, which is used to account for nonspecific uptake and tissue optical property effects on measured targeted tracer concentrations.
Theoretical simulations and a mouse melanoma model experiment were used to test out the EMCI approach. The tracers used in the melanoma experiments were fluorescently labeled anti-Plvap/PV1 antibody (plasmalemma vesicle associated protein Plvap/PV1 is a transmembrane protein marker exposed on the luminal surface of endothelial cells in tumor vasculature) and a fluorescent isotype control antibody, the uptakes of which were measured on a planar fluorescence imaging system.
The EMCI model was found to be robust to experimental noise under reversible and irreversible binding conditions and was capable of predicting expected overexpression of PV1 in melanomas compared to healthy skin despite a 5-time higher measured fluorescence in healthy skin compared to melanoma: attributable to substantial light attenuation from melanin in the tumors.
This study demonstrates the potential of EMCI to quantify endothelial marker concentrations in vivo, an accomplishment that is currently unavailable through any other methods, either in vivo or ex vivo.
PMCID: PMC4016173  PMID: 24217944
Tracer kinetic modeling; Cancer; Mouse model; PV1
8.  Immunoisolation and partial characterization of endothelial plasmalemmal vesicles (caveolae). 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  1997;8(4):595-605.
Plasmalemmal vesicles (PVs) or caveolae are plasma membrane invaginations and associated vesicles of regular size and shape found in most mammalian cell types. They are particularly numerous in the continuous endothelium of certain microvascular beds (e.g., heart, lung, and muscles) in which they have been identified as transcytotic vesicular carriers. Their chemistry and function have been extensively studied in the last years by various means, including several attempts to isolate them by cell fractionation from different cell types. The methods so far used rely on nonspecific physical parameters of the caveolae and their membrane (e.g., size-specific gravity and solubility in detergents) which do not rule out contamination from other membrane sources, especially the plasmalemma proper. We report here a different method for the isolation of PVs from plasmalemmal fragments obtained by a silica-coating procedure from the rat lung vasculature. The method includes sonication and flotation of a mixed vesicle fraction, as the first step, followed by specific immunoisolation of PVs on anticaveolin-coated magnetic microspheres, as the second step. The mixed vesicle fraction, is thereby resolved into a bound subfraction (B), which consists primarily of PVs or caveolae, and a nonbound subfraction (NB) enriched in vesicles derived from the plasmalemma proper. The results so far obtained indicate that some specific endothelial membrane proteins (e.g., thrombomodulin, functional thrombin receptor) are distributed about evenly between the B and NB subfractions, whereas others are restricted to the NB subfraction (e.g., angiotensin converting enzyme, podocalyxin). Glycoproteins distribute unevenly between the two subfractions and antigens involved in signal transduction [e.g., annexin II, protein kinase C alpha, the G alpha subunits of heterotrimeric G proteins (alpha s, alpha q, alpha i2, alpha i3), small GTP-binding proteins, endothelial nitric oxide synthase, and nonreceptor protein kinase c-src] are concentrated in the NB (plasmalemma proper-enriched) subfraction rather than in the caveolae of the B subfraction. Additional work should show whether discrepancies between our findings and those already recorded in the literature represent inadequate fractionation techniques or are accounted for by chemical differentiation of caveolae from one cell type to another.
PMCID: PMC276112  PMID: 9247641
9.  Major histocompatibility complex class I molecules mediate association of SV40 with caveolae. 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  1997;8(1):47-57.
Simian virus 40 (SV40) has been shown to enter mammalian cells via uncoated plasma membrane invaginations. Viral particles subsequently appear within the endoplasmic reticulum. In the present study, we have examined the surface binding and internalization of SV40 by immunoelectron microscopy. We show that SV40 associates with surface pits which have the characteristics of caveolae and are labeled with antibodies to the caveolar marker protein, caveolin-1. SV40 is believed to use major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I molecules as cell surface receptors. Using a number of MHC class I-specific monoclonal antibodies, we found that both viral infection and association of virus with caveolae were strongly reduced by preincubation with anti-MHC class I antibodies. Because binding of SV40 to MHC class I molecules may induce clustering, we investigated whether antibody cross-linked class I molecules also redistributed to caveolae. Clusters of MHC class I molecules were indeed shown to be specifically associated with caveolin-labeled surface pits. Taken together, the results suggest that SV40 may make use of MHC class I molecule clustering and the caveolae pathway to enter mammalian cells.
PMCID: PMC276058  PMID: 9017594
10.  Endocytosis of GPI-anchored proteins in human lymphocytes: role of glycolipid-based domains, actin cytoskeleton, and protein kinases 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1996;133(4):791-799.
GPI-anchored surface proteins mediate many important functions, including transport, signal transduction, adhesion, and protection against complement. They cluster into glycolipid-based membrane domains and caveolae, plasmalemmal vesicles involved in the transcytosis and endocytosis of these surface proteins. However, in lymphocytes, neither the characteristic flask shaped caveolae nor caveolin, a transmembrane protein typical of caveolae, have been observed. Here, we show that the GPI-anchored CD59 molecule on Jurkat T cells is internalized after cross-linking, a process inhibited by nystatin, a sterol chelating agent. Clustered CD59 molecules mostly accumulate in non-coated invaginations of the lymphocyte membrane before endocytosis, in marked contrast with the pattern of CD3-TCR internalization. Cytochalasin H blocked CD59 internalization in lymphocytes, but neither CD3 internalization nor transferrin uptake. Confocal microscopy analysis of F-actin distribution within lymphocytes showed that CD59 clusters were associated with patches of polymerized actin. Also, we found that internalization of CD59 was prevented by the protein kinase C inhibitor staurosporine and by the protein kinase A activator forskolin. Thus, in lymphocytes, as in other cell types, glycolipid-based domains provide sites of integration of signaling pathways involved in GPI-anchored protein endocytosis. This process, which is regulated by both protein kinase C and A activity, is tightly controlled by the dynamic organization of actin cytoskeleton, and may be critical for polarized contacts of circulating cells.
PMCID: PMC2120835  PMID: 8666664
11.  Heparan Sulfate-Binding Foot-and-Mouth Disease Virus Enters Cells via Caveola-Mediated Endocytosis▿  
Journal of Virology  2008;82(18):9075-9085.
Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) utilizes different cell surface macromolecules to facilitate infection of cultured cells. Virus, which is virulent for susceptible animals, infects cells via four members of the αV subclass of cellular integrins. In contrast, tissue culture adaptation of some FMDV serotypes results in the loss of viral virulence in the animal, accompanied by the loss of virus' ability to use integrins as receptors. These avirulent viral variants acquire positively charged amino acids on surface-exposed structural proteins, resulting in the utilization of cell surface heparan sulfate (HS) molecules as receptors. We have recently shown that FMDV serotypes utilizing integrin receptors enter cells via a clathrin-mediated mechanism into early endosomes. Acidification within the endosome results in a breakdown of the viral capsid, releasing the RNA, which enters the cytoplasm by a still undefined mechanism. Since there is evidence that HS internalizes bound ligands via a caveola-mediated mechanism, it was of interest to analyze the entry of FMDV by cell-surface HS. Using a genetically engineered variant of type O1Campos (O1C3056R) which can utilize both integrins and HS as receptors and a second variant (O1C3056R-KGE) which can utilize only HS as a receptor, we followed viral entry using confocal microscopy. After virus bound to cells at 4°C, followed by a temperature shift to 37°C, type O1C3056R-KGE colocalized with caveolin-1, while O1C3056R colocalized with both clathrin and caveolin-1. Compounds which either disrupt or inhibit the formation of lipid rafts inhibited the replication of O1C3056R-KGE. Furthermore, a caveolin-1 knockdown by RNA interference also considerably reduced the efficiency of O1C3056R-KGE infection. These results indicate that HS-binding FMDV enters the cells via the caveola-mediated endocytosis pathway and that caveolae can associate and traffic with endosomes. In addition, these results further suggest that the route of FMDV entry into cells is a function solely of the viral receptor.
PMCID: PMC2546884  PMID: 18614639
12.  Endothelial plasmalemmal vesicles have a characteristic striped bipolar surface structure 
The Journal of Cell Biology  1985;101(6):2233-2238.
Capillary endothelial cells have a large population of small (65-80 nm diameter in transmission electron microscopy) vesicles of which a large fraction is associated with the plasmalemma of the luminal and abluminal side. We studied the fine structure and distribution of these plasmalemmal vesicles by high resolution scanning electron microscopy in cultured endothelial cells obtained from bovine adrenal cortical capillaries. Cell monolayers were covered with polylysine-coated silicon chips, split in high potassium buffer, fixed in aldehyde mixtures, and then treated with OsO4 and thiocarbohydrazide. After critical point drying, the specimens were coated with a thin (less than 2 nm) continuous film of chromium. On the cytoplasmic aspect of the dorsal plasmalemmal fragments seen in such specimens, plasmalemmal vesicles appear as uniform vesicular protrusions approximately 70-90 nm in diameter, preferentially concentrated in distinct large fields in which they occur primarily as single units. Individual plasmalemmal vesicles exhibit a striped surface fine structure which consists of ridges approximately 10 nm in diameter, separated by furrows and oriented as meridians, often ending at two poles on opposite sides of the vesicles in a plane parallel to the plasmalemma. This striped surface structure is clearly distinct from the cage structure of coated pits found, at low surface density, on the same specimens. The cytoplasmic aspect of the plasmalemma proper is covered by a fibrillar infrastructure which does not extend over plasmalemmal vesicles but on which the latter appear to be anchored by fine filaments.
PMCID: PMC2113993  PMID: 4066756
13.  Antigen vehiculization particles based on the Z protein of Junin virus 
BMC Biotechnology  2012;12:80.
Arenavirus matrix protein Z plays an important role in virus budding and is able to generate enveloped virus-like-particles (VLPs) in absence of any other viral proteins. In these VLPs, Z protein is associated to the plasma membrane inner surface by its myristoyl residue. Budding induction and vesicle formation properties can be exploited to generate enveloped VLPs platform. These structures can be designed to carry specific antigen in the inner side or on the surface of VLPs.
Vaccines based on VLPs are a highly effective type of subunit vaccines that mimic the overall structure of virus particles in absence of viral nucleic acid, being noninfectious.
In this work we assayed the capacity of Junin Z protein to produce VLPs carrying the green fluorescent protein (eGFP), as a model antigen.
In this report the Junin Z protein ability to produce VLPs from 293T cells and its capacity to deliver a specific antigen (eGFP) fused to Z was evaluated. Confocal microscopy showed a particular membrane bending in cells expressing Z and a spot welded distribution in the cytoplasm. VLPs were detected by TEM (transmission electron microscopy) and were purified from cell supernatant. The proteinase protection assay demonstrated the VLPs integrity and the absence of degradation of the fused antigen, thus indicating its internal localization. Finally, immunization of mice with purified VLPs produced high titres of anti-eGFP antibodies compared to the controls.
It was proved that VLPs can be generated from cells transfected with a fusion Junin virus Z-eGFP protein in absence of any other viral protein, and the capacity of Z protein to support fusions at the C-terminal, without impairing its budding activity, allowing vehiculization of specific antigens into VLPs.
PMCID: PMC3534497  PMID: 23121996
Virus-like particles; Antigen delivery; Arenavirus; Z protein
The virus-induced leakage of host-cell constituents represents a true increase in cellular permeability rather than an unpeeling of cell surface components, since an intracellular enzyme participates in the leakage. All of the T-system bacteriophages exhibit this leakage. The leakage does not occur with salt concentrations which permit only reversible virus-cell attachment but no penetration. These facts support the idea that the reaction underlying cell leakage is a part of the invasive mechanism. With increasing multiplicity of T2 infection of young, fresh Escherichia coli B cells, progressively larger molecules leak out of the cell. Acid-soluble P32 appears in large amounts with single infection. Appreciable amounts of galactosidase enzyme and RNA do not leak until multiplicities of 5 to 30 are attained. Cellular DNA is not liberated unless sufficiently high multiplicities are used to cause the extensive cell destruction and clearing of the suspension characteristic of lysis-from-without. This progression is interpreted as an increase with T2 multiplicity in the maximum hole size produced in the cell membrane. Calculation shows that this increase in hole size must result from a spreading change in the character of the cell wall, rather than the coincidental juxtaposition of 2 or more viruses at adjacent attachment sites. T1 virus liberates less macromolecular constituents than T2 from E. coli B. The following experimental results constitute evidence that in the course of normal virus infection, a resealing reaction is rapidly instituted in the cell wall which reverses the effect of the original permeability increase, and renders the cell refractory to a second lytic reaction by a homologous virus: (a) Cell leakage induced by T2 virus in the course of normal infection markedly slows down or stops within a few minutes, even when only a small fraction of the material potentially available for leakage has been released, (b) Superinfection after 8 minutes at 37°C., of a cell previously infected with a homologous virus causes little or no appearance of a second leakage of cell constituents. This experiment also leads to the conclusion that the sealing reaction, like that which causes the leakage, also involves a disturbance which spreads over all or most of the cell wall. (c) If a multiple virus infection is allowed to occur at 0°C. and then the cells are placed in a 37°C. bath after completion of attachment, a much greater cell leakage results than if the entire course had occurred at 37°C., as would be expected if a resealing reaction comes into play at 37°C. within a time less than that required by the completion of attachment. The virus particles attaching secondarily at 37°C. are prevented from exercising their permeability-increasing effect by the sealing reaction of the virus which had penetrated first. Although a second homologous cell infection with T1 or T2 phages after a 37°C. incubation fails to yield a second leakage, a second heterologous infection always causes exacerbation of new leakage, which, especially if T1 has preceded T2, may be much greater than the sum of those produced individually by each virus in separate cell suspensions. This phenomenon may be the action responsible for the "depressor" effect which occurs when 2 unrelated viruses attack the same cell. The properties of the sealing phenomenon are such as to make it appear a logical candidate for the mechanism underlying the exclusion of a superinfecting phage from participating in reproductive processes in a cell previously infected with a homologous virus, since the DNA of the second virus would be unable to penetrate the new barrier. Experiments to test this hypothesis revealed that the DNA from such superinfecting virus is completely extractable from cells by washing in dilute buffer, whereas about 40 to 50 per cent of the attached DNA of virus which has invaded virgin cells remains bound to the cells. Most of the viral DNA which appears in the original supernatant when P32-labelled T2 invades E. coli B in a multiplicity less than one, does not represent inert material but rather virus DNA which has been split, or split and hydrolyzed as a result of its interaction with the cells, as judged by the altered susceptibility to hydrolytic enzyme or to TCA precipitation. This suggests that 25 per cent or more of the virus DNA may be expendable, at least after the penetration stage of the infection cycle. Mg++ which strongly depresses the amount of cell leakage attending T2 infection, does not prevent T2 penetration nor does it block the appearance of the exclusion reaction. Hence, if the initial leakage does mirror the lytic process by which a hole for the DNA injection is provided, the Mg++ does not function by preventing this hole formation. Its effect would have to lie in prevention of the spreading lysis-potentiating reaction or in augmenting the sealing mechanism. A large number of independent lines of evidence indicate that the phenomenon of lysis-from-without exhibited by the T-even coliphages is the result of failure of the sealing mechanism to keep pace with the lytic reaction. This can result from an excess of infecting phages or inhibition of the cellular energy-liberating reaction required by the sealing mechanism. The complete parallelism between the development of refractoriness to lysis-from-without and development of refractoriness to the production of a new leakage from a homologous superinfection is especially convincing in this connection. It is proposed that the early phase of bacteriophage invasion involves the following steps: reversible electrostatic attachment; splitting of the viral DNA from its protein coat; initiation of a lytic reaction in the cell wall at the site of virus attachment; injection of the DNA through the hole so produced; a spreading disturbance over the cell surface which makes it momentarily more susceptible to the lytic reaction; sealing of the hole and a concommittant spread over the cell wall of a reaction making the cell refractory to initiation of a second lytic reaction. Na+, K+, and Mg++ all behave differently in their effect on the leakage produced in the course of T2 invasion of E. coli.
PMCID: PMC2136447  PMID: 13233443
15.  Human Monoclonal Antibody Combination against SARS Coronavirus: Synergy and Coverage of Escape Mutants 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(7):e237.
Experimental animal data show that protection against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) infection with human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) is feasible. For an effective immune prophylaxis in humans, broad coverage of different strains of SARS-CoV and control of potential neutralization escape variants will be required. Combinations of virus-neutralizing, noncompeting mAbs may have these properties.
Methods and Findings
Human mAb CR3014 has been shown to completely prevent lung pathology and abolish pharyngeal shedding of SARS-CoV in infected ferrets. We generated in vitro SARS-CoV variants escaping neutralization by CR3014, which all had a single P462L mutation in the glycoprotein spike (S) of the escape virus. In vitro experiments confirmed that binding of CR3014 to a recombinant S fragment (amino acid residues 318–510) harboring this mutation was abolished. We therefore screened an antibody-phage library derived from blood of a convalescent SARS patient for antibodies complementary to CR3014. A novel mAb, CR3022, was identified that neutralized CR3014 escape viruses, did not compete with CR3014 for binding to recombinant S1 fragments, and bound to S1 fragments derived from the civet cat SARS-CoV-like strain SZ3. No escape variants could be generated with CR3022. The mixture of both mAbs showed neutralization of SARS-CoV in a synergistic fashion by recognizing different epitopes on the receptor-binding domain. Dose reduction indices of 4.5 and 20.5 were observed for CR3014 and CR3022, respectively, at 100% neutralization. Because enhancement of SARS-CoV infection by subneutralizing antibody concentrations is of concern, we show here that anti-SARS-CoV antibodies do not convert the abortive infection of primary human macrophages by SARS-CoV into a productive one.
The combination of two noncompeting human mAbs CR3014 and CR3022 potentially controls immune escape and extends the breadth of protection. At the same time, synergy between CR3014 and CR3022 may allow for a lower total antibody dose to be administered for passive immune prophylaxis of SARS-CoV infection.
Editors' Summary
Late in 2002, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) emerged in the Guangdong province of China. In February 2003, an infected doctor from the province carried this new viral threat to human health to Hong Kong. Here, people staying in the same hotel caught the disease and took it to other countries. SARS was on the move, hitching lifts with international travellers. Because the virus responsible for SARS—SARS-CoV—spread by close person-to-person contact and killed 10% of the people it infected, health experts feared a world-wide epidemic. This was avoided by the World Health Organization issuing a global alert and warning against unnecessary travel to affected areas and by public-health officials isolating patients and their close contacts. By July 2003, the first SARS epidemic was over. 8,098 people had been infected; 774 people had died. Since then, sporadic cases of SARS have been contained locally.
Why Was This Study Done?
The first epidemic of SARS was caused by an animal virus that became adapted to spread between people. There is no reason this process won't be repeated. If it is, stringent quarantine measures could again prevent a global epidemic, but at considerable economic cost. What is needed is a way to prevent SARS developing in healthy people who have been exposed to SARS-CoV and to treat sick people so that they are less infectious and can fight the virus. In this study, researchers have been investigating “passive immunization” as a way to limit SARS epidemics. In passive immunization, short-term protection against illness is achieved by injecting antibodies—proteins that recognize specific molecules (called antigens) on foreign organisms such as bacteria and viruses and prevent those organisms from causing disease. Antibodies for passive immunization can be isolated from blood taken from people who have had SARS, or they can be manufactured as so-called “human monoclonal antibodies” in a laboratory. One of these human monoclonal antibodies—CR3014—had been previously made and shown to prevent lung damage in ferrets infected with SARS-CoV and to stop the infected animals from infecting others. But for effective disease prevention in people, a single monoclonal antibody might not be enough. There are strains of SARS-CoV that CR3014 does not recognize and therefore cannot act against. Also, the virus can alter the antigen recognized by CR3014 when it is grown at a low antibody concentration, producing so-called escape variants; if this happens CR3014 can no longer prevent these escape variants from killing human cells.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers tested how well a combination of two monoclonal antibodies controlled SARS-CoV killing of human cells. First, they showed that CR3014 escape variants all had the same small change in a part of the virus surface that interacts with human cells. CR3014 blocked this interaction in the parent SARS-CoV strain but not in the escape variants. They then made a new monoclonal antibody—CR3022—that prevented both the parent SARS-CoV stain and the CR3014 escape viruses from killing human cells. The two antibodies bound to neighboring parts of the virus surface, and both of them could bind at the same time. CR3022 also bound to surfaces of SARS-CoV strains to which CR3014 does not bind. And when they tried, the researchers could not generate any viral escape variants to which CR3022 was unable to bind. Finally, the effect of the two antibodies together on inhibition of SARS-CoV killing of human cells was more than the sum of their individual effects.
What Do These Findings Mean?
A combination of two (or more) human monoclonal antibodies that recognize different parts of the SARS-CoV surface that interacts with human cells might be a good way to immunize people passively against SARS-CoV. It might minimize the possibility of escape variants arising, broaden the range of virus strains against which protection is provided, and reduce the amount of antibody needed for effective protection. Before the approach is tried in people, it will have to be tested in animals—results from experiments done on human cells in dishes are not always replicated in whole animals or people. If the approach passes further tests, the hope is that passive immunization of people with SARS and their close contacts might reduce disease severity in infected people and reduce viral spread as effectively as dramatic quarantine measures
Additional Information.
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at
• Medline Plus pages on SARS
• US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information on SARS
• US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases factsheet about research on SARS
• Wikipedia page on SARS and monoclonal antibodies (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
Two human monoclonal antibodies that bind to different parts of the viral glycoprotein spike show synergistic effects in virus neutralization and suppress the emergence of resistant virus in vitro.
PMCID: PMC1483912  PMID: 16796401
16.  Enveloped Virus-Like Particle Expression of Human Cytomegalovirus Glycoprotein B Antigen Induces Antibodies with Potent and Broad Neutralizing Activity 
A prophylactic vaccine to prevent the congenital transmission of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) in newborns and to reduce life-threatening disease in immunosuppressed recipients of HCMV-infected solid organ transplants is highly desirable. Neutralizing antibodies against HCMV confer significant protection against infection, and glycoprotein B (gB) is a major target of such neutralizing antibodies. However, one shortcoming of past HCMV vaccines may have been their failure to induce high-titer persistent neutralizing antibody responses that prevent the infection of epithelial cells. We used enveloped virus-like particles (eVLPs), in which particles were produced in cells after the expression of murine leukemia virus (MLV) viral matrix protein Gag, to express either full-length CMV gB (gB eVLPs) or the full extracellular domain of CMV gB fused with the transmembrane and cytoplasmic domains from vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV)-G protein (gB-G eVLPs). gB-G-expressing eVLPs induced potent neutralizing antibodies in mice with a much greater propensity toward epithelial cell-neutralizing activity than that induced with soluble recombinant gB protein. An analysis of gB antibody binding titers and T-helper cell responses demonstrated that high neutralizing antibody titers were not simply due to enhanced immunogenicity of the gB-G eVLPs. The cells transiently transfected with gB-G but not gB plasmid formed syncytia, consistent with a prefusion gB conformation like those of infected cells and viral particles. Two of the five gB-G eVLP-induced monoclonal antibodies we examined in detail had neutralizing activities, one of which possessed particularly potent epithelial cell-neutralizing activity. These data differentiate gB-G eVLPs from gB antigens used in the past and support their use in a CMV vaccine candidate with improved neutralizing activity against epithelial cell infection.
PMCID: PMC3910943  PMID: 24334684
17.  Immune Protection of Nonhuman Primates against Ebola Virus with Single Low-Dose Adenovirus Vectors Encoding Modified GPs 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(6):e177.
Ebola virus causes a hemorrhagic fever syndrome that is associated with high mortality in humans. In the absence of effective therapies for Ebola virus infection, the development of a vaccine becomes an important strategy to contain outbreaks. Immunization with DNA and/or replication-defective adenoviral vectors (rAd) encoding the Ebola glycoprotein (GP) and nucleoprotein (NP) has been previously shown to confer specific protective immunity in nonhuman primates. GP can exert cytopathic effects on transfected cells in vitro, and multiple GP forms have been identified in nature, raising the question of which would be optimal for a human vaccine.
Methods and Findings
To address this question, we have explored the efficacy of mutant GPs from multiple Ebola virus strains with reduced in vitro cytopathicity and analyzed their protective effects in the primate challenge model, with or without NP. Deletion of the GP transmembrane domain eliminated in vitro cytopathicity but reduced its protective efficacy by at least one order of magnitude. In contrast, a point mutation was identified that abolished this cytopathicity but retained immunogenicity and conferred immune protection in the absence of NP. The minimal effective rAd dose was established at 1010 particles, two logs lower than that used previously.
Expression of specific GPs alone vectored by rAd are sufficient to confer protection against lethal challenge in a relevant nonhuman primate model. Elimination of NP from the vaccine and dose reductions to 1010 rAd particles do not diminish protection and simplify the vaccine, providing the basis for selection of a human vaccine candidate.
A simplified Ebola vaccine that consists of a modified GP protein (which is well-tolerated by human cells even at high concentrations) in a replication-defective adenoviral vector protects macaques.
Editors' Summary
Humans who get infected with Ebola virus develop an illness called Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHV), which is one of the most deadly viral diseases known; 50%–90% of all ill patients die, and there is no available treatment for EHV. Scientists think that the occasional outbreaks of the disease occur because the virus “jumps” from an infected animal to a person (a rare event) and then is transmitted between people by direct contact with infected blood or other body fluids or parts. Several strains or variants of the Ebola virus exist. Most outbreaks have been caused either by the Zaire strain or by the Sudan/Gulu strain (so-called because that is where the particular virus was first isolated). Scientists are working on a vaccine against Ebola that could be given to people before they get infected and then protect them when they come in contact with the virus. A number of candidate vaccines have been developed and tested in animals.
Why Was This Study Done?
The researchers who did this study are working on a vaccine that consists of two particular parts of the virus. One part is called GP (which stands for glycoprotein) and is from the outer coat of the virus; the other, NP (nucleoprotein), is from its inside. Without the rest of the virus, GP and NP cannot cause EBV. However, the hope is that giving these parts of the virus to an individual can educate their immune system to build a response against GP and NP, which would then recognize the virus should the vaccinated person become infected with the whole virus, and destroy it before it can cause disease. To get the GP and NP parts into the body so that they can cause a strong immune response (which is what effective vaccines do), the researchers used a manmade version of another, harmless virus called recombinant adenovirus 5 (or rAd5) to carry the NP and GP. The researchers have shown previously that this strategy for introducing a vaccine works in animals. The vaccine—i.e., the combination of the rAd5 virus and the two Ebola virus parts—can protect animals against subsequent infection with real Ebola virus that would otherwise kill them. However, during these earlier studies, the researchers had noticed that the GP part, when present at high levels, seemed to make human cells sick. They had not seen any similar problems in the experimental animals, but to be on the safe side they decided to see whether they could change the GP part so that it would still be effective as a vaccine but no longer make human cells sick.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
They changed the GP part of the vaccine in different ways so that it would no longer make human cells sick and then tested whether the resulting vaccines (combined with the original NP part and the Ad5 virus) could still protect monkeys from EHF after they were infected with Ebola virus. They found that some of the new GP versions made the vaccine less effective, but others did what they had hoped for; namely, they gave the same level of protection as when the original GP part was present. While doing these experiments, the researchers also found that the NP component seemed unnecessary and in some cases even weakened the vaccine's effect.
What Do These Findings Mean?
The researchers have now developed a simplified vaccine against Ebola virus that is effective in monkeys. This vaccine consists of only a modified GP component (which is well tolerated by human cells even at high concentrations) and the rAd5 component. This vaccine is not the only candidate currently being developed against Ebola, but it seems likely that it is one of a few that will be tested in human volunteers in the near future. The initial clinical trials will test whether the vaccine is safe in humans, and whether it can cause the immune system to produce an immune response that is specific for the Ebola virus. Assuming that the outcomes of these trials are positive, the next question is whether the vaccine can protect humans against Ebola disease. Because Ebola is so dangerous and outbreaks are relatively rare, the vaccine will likely be tested only during an actual outbreak. At that time, an experimental vaccine might be given to people at immediate risk of becoming infected, especially health-care workers who, because they take care of infected patients, are themselves at very high risk of becoming infected. In addition to trials in humans, the scientists will also explore whether this vaccine, which was developed based on the GP component of the Zaire strain, can protect monkeys against infections with other strains of the Ebola virus.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
• World Health Organization
• MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia
• US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
• Wikipedia (note: Wikipedia is a free Internet encyclopedia that anyone can edit)
PMCID: PMC1459482  PMID: 16683867
18.  Mechanisms of GII.4 Norovirus Persistence in Human Populations  
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(2):e31.
Noroviruses are the leading cause of viral acute gastroenteritis in humans, noted for causing epidemic outbreaks in communities, the military, cruise ships, hospitals, and assisted living communities. The evolutionary mechanisms governing the persistence and emergence of new norovirus strains in human populations are unknown. Primarily organized by sequence homology into two major human genogroups defined by multiple genoclusters, the majority of norovirus outbreaks are caused by viruses from the GII.4 genocluster, which was first recognized as the major epidemic strain in the mid-1990s. Previous studies by our laboratory and others indicate that some noroviruses readily infect individuals who carry a gene encoding a functional alpha-1,2-fucosyltransferase (FUT2) and are designated “secretor-positive” to indicate that they express ABH histo-blood group antigens (HBGAs), a highly heterogeneous group of related carbohydrates on mucosal surfaces. Individuals with defects in the FUT2 gene are termed secretor-negative, do not express the appropriate HBGA necessary for docking, and are resistant to Norwalk infection. These data argue that FUT2 and other genes encoding enzymes that regulate processing of the HBGA carbohydrates function as susceptibility alleles. However, secretor-negative individuals can be infected with other norovirus strains, and reinfection with the GII.4 strains is common in human populations. In this article, we analyze molecular mechanisms governing GII.4 epidemiology, susceptibility, and persistence in human populations.
Methods and Findings
Phylogenetic analyses of the GII.4 capsid sequences suggested an epochal evolution over the last 20 y with periods of stasis followed by rapid evolution of novel epidemic strains. The epidemic strains show a linear relationship in time, whereby serial replacements emerge from the previous cluster. Five major evolutionary clusters were identified, and representative ORF2 capsid genes for each cluster were expressed as virus-like particles (VLPs). Using salivary and carbohydrate-binding assays, we showed that GII.4 VLP-carbohydrate ligand binding patterns have changed over time and include carbohydrates regulated by the human FUT2 and FUT3 pathways, suggesting that strain sensitivity to human susceptibility alleles will vary. Variation in surface-exposed residues and in residues that surround the fucose ligand interaction domain suggests that antigenic drift may promote GII.4 persistence in human populations. Evidence supporting antigenic drift was obtained by measuring the antigenic relatedness of GII.4 VLPs using murine and human sera and demonstrating strain-specific serologic and carbohydrate-binding blockade responses. These data suggest that the GII.4 noroviruses persist by altering their HBGA carbohydrate-binding targets over time, which not only allows for escape from highly penetrant host susceptibility alleles, but simultaneously allows for immune-driven selection in the receptor-binding region to facilitate escape from protective herd immunity.
Our data suggest that the surface-exposed carbohydrate ligand binding domain in the norovirus capsid is under heavy immune selection and likely evolves by antigenic drift in the face of human herd immunity. Variation in the capsid carbohydrate-binding domain is tolerated because of the large repertoire of similar, yet distinct HBGA carbohydrate receptors available on mucosal surfaces that could interface with the remodeled architecture of the capsid ligand-binding pocket. The continuing evolution of new replacement strains suggests that, as with influenza viruses, vaccines could be targeted that protect against norovirus infections, and that continued epidemiologic surveillance and reformulations of norovirus vaccines will be essential in the control of future outbreaks.
Through phylogenetic analysis of norovirus isolates, Ralph Baric and colleagues show that new epidemic strains arise as the variety of available cellular receptors permits antigenic drift in the viral capsid.
Editors' Summary
Noroviruses are the leading cause of viral gastroenteritis (stomach flu), the symptoms of which include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. There is no treatment for infection with these highly contagious viruses. While most people recover within a few days, the very young and old may experience severe disease. Like influenza, large outbreaks (epidemics) of norovirus infection occur periodically (often in closed communities such as cruise ships), and most people have several norovirus infections during their lifetime. Currently, 100,000–200,000 people are being infected each week in England with a new GII.4 variant. There are several reasons for this pattern of infection and reinfection. First, the immune response induced by a norovirus infection is short-lived in some people, but not all. Second, there are many different noroviruses. Based on their genomes (genetic blueprints), noroviruses belong to five “genogroups,” which are further subdivided into “genotypes.” An immune response to one norovirus provides little protection against noroviruses of other genogroups or genotypes. Third, like influenza viruses, noroviruses frequently acquire small changes in their genome. This process is called antigenic drift (antigens are the molecules on the surface of infectious agents that stimulate the production of antibodies, proteins that help the immune system recognize and deal with foreign invaders). Norovirus epidemics occur when virus variants emerge to which the human population has no immunity.
Why Was This Study Done?
It is unknown exactly how noroviruses change over time or how they persist in human populations. In addition, little is known about susceptibility to norovirus infections except that secretor-positive individuals—people who express “histoblood group antigens” (HBGAs, a heterogeneous group of sugar molecules by which noroviruses attach themselves to human cells) on the cells that line their mouths and guts—are more susceptible than secretor-negative people, who express these antigens only on red blood cells. Information of this sort is needed to devise effective intervention strategies, therapies, and vaccines to reduce the illness and economic costs associated with norovirus outbreaks. In this study, the researchers investigate the molecular mechanisms governing the emergence and persistence of epidemic norovirus strains in human populations by analyzing how GII.4 norovirus strains (the genotype usually associated with epidemics) have changed over time.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers analyzed the relationships among the sequences of the gene encoding the capsid protein of GII.4 norovirus strains isolated over the past 20 years. The capsid protein forms a shell around noroviruses and is involved in their binding to HBGAs and their recognition by the human immune system. The researchers found that the virus evolved in fits and starts. That is, for several years, one cluster of strains was predominant but then new epidemic strains emerged rapidly from the cluster. In all, the researchers identified five major evolutionary clusters. They then created “virus-like particles” (VLPs) using representative capsid genes from each cluster and showed that these VLPs bound to different HBGAs. Finally they measured the antigenic relatedness of the different VLPs using human blood collected during a 1988 GII.4 outbreak. Antibodies in these samples recognized the VLPs representing early GII.4 strains better than VLPs representing recent GII.4 strains. The ability of the blood samples to block the interaction of VLPs with their matching HBGAs showed a similar pattern.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that the part of the norovirus capsid protein that binds to sugars on host cells is under heavy immune selection and evolves over time by antigenic drift. They show that, like influenza viruses, GII.4 viruses evolve through serial changes in the capsid sequence that occur sporadically after periods of stability, probably to evade the build up of immunity within the human population. Variation in this region of the viral genome is possible because human populations express a great variety of HBGA molecules so there is always likely to be a subpopulation of people that is susceptible to the altered virus. Overall, these findings suggest that it should be possible to develop vaccines to protect against norovirus infections but, just as with influenza virus, surveillance systems will have to monitor how the virus is changing and vaccines will need to be reformulated frequently to provide effective protection against norovirus outbreaks.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
See a related PLoS Medicine Perspective article
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia has a page on viral gastroenteritis (in English and Spanish)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on viral gastroenteritis (in English and Spanish) and on noroviruses
The UK National Health Service's health website (NHS Direct) provides information about noroviruses
The UK Health Protection Agency and the US Food & Drug Administration also provide information about noroviruses
PMCID: PMC2235898  PMID: 18271619
19.  Intracellular Proton Conductance of the Hepatitis C Virus p7 Protein and Its Contribution to Infectious Virus Production 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(9):e1001087.
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) p7 protein is critical for virus production and an attractive antiviral target. p7 is an ion channel when reconstituted in artificial lipid bilayers, but channel function has not been demonstrated in vivo and it is unknown whether p7 channel activity plays a critical role in virus production. To evaluate the contribution of p7 to organelle pH regulation and virus production, we incorporated a fluorescent pH sensor within native, intracellular vesicles in the presence or absence of p7 expression. p7 increased proton (H+) conductance in vesicles and was able to rapidly equilibrate H+ gradients. This conductance was blocked by the viroporin inhibitors amantadine, rimantadine and hexamethylene amiloride. Fluorescence microscopy using pH indicators in live cells showed that both HCV infection and expression of p7 from replicon RNAs reduced the number of highly acidic (pH<5) vesicles and increased lysosomal pH from 4.5 to 6.0. These effects were not present in uninfected cells, sub-genomic replicon cells not expressing p7, or cells electroporated with viral RNA containing a channel-inactive p7 point mutation. The acidification inhibitor, bafilomycin A1, partially restored virus production to cells electroporated with viral RNA containing the channel inactive mutation, yet did not in cells containing p7-deleted RNA. Expression of influenza M2 protein also complemented the p7 mutant, confirming a requirement for H+ channel activity in virus production. Accordingly, exposure to acid pH rendered intracellular HCV particles non-infectious, whereas the infectivity of extracellular virions was acid stable and unaffected by incubation at low pH, further demonstrating a key requirement for p7-induced loss of acidification. We conclude that p7 functions as a H+ permeation pathway, acting to prevent acidification in otherwise acidic intracellular compartments. This loss of acidification is required for productive HCV infection, possibly through protecting nascent virus particles during an as yet uncharacterized maturation process.
Author Summary
The hepatitis C virus (HCV) is the most common cause of chronic liver disease. Current therapy is only partially effective and fraught with side effects. A greater understanding of viral replication and new virus particle formation is thus important for developing new therapeutic targets. The HCV p7 protein is a virally encoded protein that is absolutely required for the production of new virus particles. It behaves as an ion channel when reconstituted into artificial lipid membranes but its function in infected cells is unknown. We have examined the possibility that p7 functions as an intracellular ion channel, preventing pH gradients from developing inside the cells. We have shown that p7 serves this function and it causes a loss of acidity in multiple intracellular compartments. We demonstrate that this alkalinization is required for successful virus production. Either direct inhibition of intracellular ATPases or replacement of p7 with an alternative ion channel is able to compensate for a defect in p7 and allow active virus to be produced. Therefore, HCV uses p7 to prevent cellular acidification processes. This understanding will allow for the targeting of this mechanism with novel therapeutic agents, and offers new insights into the mechanisms of liver pathogenesis during infection.
PMCID: PMC2932723  PMID: 20824094
20.  Imaging Poliovirus Entry in Live Cells 
PLoS Biology  2007;5(7):e183.
Viruses initiate infection by transferring their genetic material across a cellular membrane and into the appropriate compartment of the cell. The mechanisms by which animal viruses, especially nonenveloped viruses, deliver their genomes are only poorly understood. This is due in part to technical difficulties involved in direct visualization of viral gene delivery and to uncertainties in distinguishing productive and nonproductive pathways caused by the high particle-to–plaque forming unit ratio of most animal viruses. Here, we combine an imaging assay that simultaneously tracks the viral capsid and genome in live cells with an infectivity-based assay for RNA release to characterize the early events in the poliovirus (PV) infection. Effects on RNA genome delivery from inhibitors of cell trafficking pathways were probed systematically by both methods. Surprisingly, we observe that genome release by PV is highly efficient and rapid, and thus does not limit the overall infectivity or the infection rate. The results define a pathway in which PV binds to receptors on the cell surface and enters the cell by a clathrin-, caveolin-, flotillin-, and microtubule-independent, but tyrosine kinase- and actin-dependent, endocytic mechanism. Immediately after the internalization of the virus particle, genome release takes place from vesicles or tightly sealed membrane invaginations located within 100–200 nm of the plasma membrane. These results settle a long-lasting debate of whether PV directly breaks the plasma membrane barrier or relies on endocytosis to deliver its genome into the cell. We expect this imaging assay to be broadly applicable to the investigation of entry mechanisms for nonenveloped viruses.
Author Summary
During travel between hosts, the genome of a virus is well protected by the viral capsid and/or envelope. After binding specifically to target cells, the virus particles enter cells by hijacking cell trafficking pathways and then deliver the viral genome into the appropriate compartment of the cell where it directs the production of progeny virus particles. How nonenveloped viruses, such as poliovirus, enter target cells is not well understood. Here, we produced fully infectious poliovirus with both genome and capsid specifically labeled by fluorescent dyes. We could then use real-time fluorescent microscopy to follow single virus particles during infection, to define how they enter cells and to determine when and where in the cell the genome gets released. We have complemented the microscopic studies with virological assays, which demonstrate that the pathways observed by microscopy are productive. We show that poliovirus enters live cells in a process that requires energy, an intact actin cytoskeleton, and cell signaling pathways, but does not depend on the well-known markers of endocytic pathways. We show that after internalization, the genome release is surprisingly efficient and occurs from vesicles that are very close to the cell surface. Our experiments offer new insights into the early steps of poliovirus infection, and describe methods that can be used for a wide variety of other viruses.
Combining an imaging assay that simultaneously tracks the viral capsid and genome in live cells with an infectivity-based biological assay for RNA release, the authors settle a long-lasting debate on the nature of poliovirus entry into the host cell.
PMCID: PMC1914398  PMID: 17622193
21.  Folate Receptor Alpha and Caveolae Are Not Required for Ebola Virus Glycoprotein-Mediated Viral Infection 
Journal of Virology  2003;77(24):13433-13438.
Folate receptor alpha (FRα) has been described as a factor involved in mediating Ebola virus entry into cells (6). Furthermore, it was suggested that interaction with FRα results in internalization and subsequent viral ingress into the cytoplasm via caveolae (9). Descriptions of cellular receptors for Ebola virus and its entry mechanisms are of fundamental importance, particularly with the advent of vectors bearing Ebola virus glycoprotein (GP) being utilized for gene transfer into cell types such as airway epithelial cells. Thus, the ability of FRα to mediate efficient entry of viral pseudotypes carrying GP was investigated. We identified cell lines and primary cell types such as macrophages that were readily infected by GP pseudotypes despite lacking detectable surface FRα, indicating that this receptor is not essential for Ebola virus infection. Furthermore, we find that T-cell lines stably expressing FRα are not infectible, suggesting that FRα is also not sufficient to mediate entry. T-cell lines lack caveolae, the predominant route of FRα-mediated folate metabolism. However, the coexpression of FRα with caveolin-1, the major structural protein of caveolae, was not able to rescue infectivity in a T-cell line. In addition, other cell types lacking caveolae are fully infectible by GP pseudotypes. Finally, a panel of ligands to and soluble analogues of FRα were unable to inhibit infection on a range of cell lines, questioning the role of FRα as an important factor for Ebola virus entry.
PMCID: PMC296046  PMID: 14645601
22.  Specificity of T cells in synovial fluid: high frequencies of CD8+ T cells that are specific for certain viral epitopes 
Arthritis Research  2000;2(2):154-164.
CD8+ T cells dominate the lymphocyte population in synovial fluid in chronic inflammatory arthritis. It is known that these CD8+ T cells are often clonally or oligoclonally expanded, but their specificity and their relevance to the pathogenesis of joint disease has remained unclear. We found that as many as 15.5% of synovial CD8+ T cells may be specific for a single epitope from an Epstein-Barr virus lytic cycle protein. The virus-specific T cells within the joint showed increased expression of markers of activation and differentiation compared with those in the periphery, and retained their functional capacity to secrete proinflammatory cytokines on stimulation. These activated, virus-specific CD8+ T cells could therefore interact with synoviocytes, either by cell-cell contact or by a cytokine network, and play a 'bystander' role in the maintenance of inflammation in patients with arthritis.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is transmitted orally, replicates in the oropharynx and establishes life-long latency in human B lymphocytes. T-cell responses to latent and lytic/replicative cycle proteins are readily detectable in peripheral blood from healthy EBV-seropositive individuals. EBV has also been detected within synovial tissue, and T-cell responses to EBV lytic proteins have been reported in synovial fluid from a patient with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This raises the question regarding whether T cells specific for certain viruses might be present at high frequencies within synovial fluid and whether such T cells might be activated or able to secrete cytokines. If so, they might play a 'bystander' role in the pathogenesis of inflammatory joint disease.
To quantify and characterize T cells that are specific for epitopes from EBV, cytomegalovirus (CMV) and influenza in peripheral blood and synovial fluid from patients with arthritis.
Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and synovial fluid mononuclear cells (SFMCs) were obtained from patients with inflammatory arthritis (including those with RA, osteoarthritis, psoriatic arthritis and reactive arthritis). Samples from human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-A2-positive donors were stained with fluorescent-labelled tetramers of HLA-A2 complexed with the GLCTLVAML peptide epitope from the EBV lytic cycle protein BMLF1, the GILGFVFTL peptide epitope from the influenza A matrix protein, or the NLVPMVATV epitope from the CMV pp65 protein. Samples from HLA-B8-positive donors were stained with fluorescent-labelled tetramers of HLA-B8 complexed with the RAKFKQLL peptide epitope from the EBV lytic protein BZLF1 or the FLRGRAYGL peptide epitope from the EBV latent protein EBNA3A. All samples were costained with an antibody specific for CD8. CD4+ T cells were not analyzed. Selected samples were costained with antibodies specific for cell-surface glycoproteins, in order to determine the phenotype of the T cells within the joint and the periphery. Functional assays to detect release of IFN-γ or tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α were also performed on some samples.
The first group of 15 patients included 10 patients with RA, one patient with reactive arthritis, one patient with psoriatic arthritis and three patients with osteoarthritis. Of these, 11 were HLA-A2 positive and five were HLA-B8 positive. We used HLA-peptide tetrameric complexes to analyze the frequency of EBV-specific T cells in PBMCs and SFMCs (Figs 1 and 2). Clear enrichment of CD8+ T cells specific for epitopes from the EBV lytic cycle proteins was seen within synovial fluid from almost all donors studied, including patients with psoriatic arthritis and osteoarthritis and those with RA. In donor RhA6, 9.5% of CD8+ SFMCs were specific for the HLA-A2 restricted GLCTLVAML epitope, compared with 0.5% of CD8+ PBMCs. Likewise in a donor with osteoarthritis (NR4), 15.5% of CD8+ SFMCs were specific for the HLA-B8-restricted RAKFKQLL epitope, compared with 0.4% of CD8+ PBMCs. In contrast, we did not find enrichment of T cells specific for the HLA-B8-restricted FLRGRAYGL epitope (from the latent protein EBNA3A) within SFMCs compared with PBMCs in any donors. In selected individuals we performed ELISpot assays to detect IFN-γ secreted by SFMCs and PBMCs after a short incubation in vitro with peptide epitopes from EBV lytic proteins. These assays confirmed enrichment of T cells specific for epitopes from EBV lytic proteins within synovial fluid and showed that subpopulations of these cells were able to secrete proinflammatory cytokines after short-term stimulation.
We used a HLA-A2/GILGFVFTL tetramer to stain PBMCs and SFMCs from six HLA-A2-positive patients. The proportion of T cells specific for this influenza epitope was low (<0.2%) in all donors studied, and we did not find any enrichment within SFMCs.
We had access to SFMCs only from a second group of four HLA-A2-positive patients with RA. A tetramer of HLA-A2 complexed to the NLVPMVATV epitope from the CMV pp65 protein reacted with subpopulations of CD8+ SFMCs in all four donors, with frequencies of 0.2, 0.5, 2.3 and 13.9%. SFMCs from all four donors secreted TNF after short-term incubation with COS cells transfected with HLA-A2 and pp65 complementary DNA. We analyzed the phenotype of virus-specific cells within PBMCs and SFMCs in three donors. The SFMC virus-specific T cells were more highly activated than those in PBMCs, as evidenced by expression of high levels of CD69 and HLA-DR. A greater proportion of SFMCs were CD38+, CD62L low, CD45RO bright, CD45RA dim, CD57+ and CD28- when compared with PBMCs.
This work shows that T cells specific for certain epitopes from viral proteins are present at very high frequencies (up to 15.5% of CD8+ T cells) within SFMCs taken from patients with inflammatory joint disease. This enrichment does not reflect a generalized enrichment for the 'memory pool' of T cells; we did not find enrichment of T cells specific for the GILGFVFTL epitope from influenza A or for the FLRGRAYGL epitope from the EBV latent protein EBNA3A, whereas we found clear enrichment of T cells specific for the GLCTLVAML epitope from the EBV lytic protein BMLF1 and for the RAKFKQLL epitope from the EBV lytic protein BZLF1.
The enrichment might reflect preferential recruitment of subpopulations of virus-specific T cells, perhaps based on expression of selectins, chemokine receptors or integrins. Alternatively, T cells specific for certain viral epitopes may be stimulated to proliferate within the joint, by viral antigens themselves or by cross-reactive self-antigens. Finally, it is theoretically possible that subpopulations of T cells within the joint are preferentially protected from apoptotic cell death. Whatever the explanation, the virus-specific T cells are present at high frequency, are activated and are able to secrete proinflammatory cytokines. They could potentially interact with synoviocytes and contribute to the maintenance of inflammation within joints in many different forms of inflammatory arthritis.
PMCID: PMC17809  PMID: 11062606
CD8+ T cell; Epstein-Barr virus lytic cycle; human leucocyte antigen peptide tetrameric complex; rheumatoid arthritis; viral immunity
23.  Generation and Analysis of Infectious Virus-Like Particles of Uukuniemi Virus (Bunyaviridae): a Useful System for Studying Bunyaviral Packaging and Budding▿  
Journal of Virology  2006;80(21):10428-10435.
In the present report we describe an infectious virus-like particle (VLP) system for the Uukuniemi (UUK) virus, a member of the Bunyaviridae family. It utilizes our recently developed reverse genetic system based on the RNA polymerase I minigenome system for UUK virus used to study replication, encapsidation, and transcription by monitoring reporter gene expression. Here, we have added the glycoprotein precursor expression plasmid together with the minigenome, nucleoprotein, and polymerase to generate VLPs, which incorporate the minigenome and are released into the supernatant. The particles are able to infect new cells, and reporter gene expression can be monitored if the trans-acting viral proteins (RNA polymerase and nucleoprotein) are also expressed in these cells. No minigenome transfer occurred in the absence of glycoproteins, demonstrating that the glycoproteins are absolutely required for the generation of infectious particles. Moreover, expression of glycoproteins alone was sufficient to produce and release VLPs. We show that the ribonucleoproteins (RNPs) are incorporated into VLPs but are not required for the generation of particles. Morphological analysis of the particles by electron microscopy revealed that VLPs, either with or without minigenomes, display a surface morphology indistinguishable from that of the authentic UUK virus and that they bud into Golgi vesicles in the same way as UUK virus does. This infectious VLP system will be very useful for studying the bunyaviral structural components required for budding and packaging of RNPs and receptor binding and may also be useful for the development of new vaccines for the human pathogens from this family.
PMCID: PMC1641803  PMID: 16928751
24.  Fatal Cardiac Arrhythmia and Long-QT Syndrome in a New Form of Congenital Generalized Lipodystrophy with Muscle Rippling (CGL4) Due to PTRF-CAVIN Mutations 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(3):e1000874.
We investigated eight families with a novel subtype of congenital generalized lipodystrophy (CGL4) of whom five members had died from sudden cardiac death during their teenage years. ECG studies revealed features of long-QT syndrome, bradycardia, as well as supraventricular and ventricular tachycardias. Further symptoms comprised myopathy with muscle rippling, skeletal as well as smooth-muscle hypertrophy, leading to impaired gastrointestinal motility and hypertrophic pyloric stenosis in some children. Additionally, we found impaired bone formation with osteopenia, osteoporosis, and atlanto-axial instability. Homozygosity mapping located the gene within 2 Mbp on chromosome 17. Prioritization of 74 candidate genes with GeneDistiller for high expression in muscle and adipocytes suggested PTRF-CAVIN (Polymerase I and transcript release factor/Cavin) as the most probable candidate leading to the detection of homozygous mutations (c.160delG, c.362dupT). PTRF-CAVIN is essential for caveolae biogenesis. These cholesterol-rich plasmalemmal vesicles are involved in signal-transduction and vesicular trafficking and reside primarily on adipocytes, myocytes, and osteoblasts. Absence of PTRF-CAVIN did not influence abundance of its binding partner caveolin-1 and caveolin-3. In patient fibroblasts, however, caveolin-1 failed to localize toward the cell surface and electron microscopy revealed reduction of caveolae to less than 3%. Transfection of full-length PTRF-CAVIN reestablished the presence of caveolae. The loss of caveolae was confirmed by Atomic Force Microscopy (AFM) in combination with fluorescent imaging. PTRF-CAVIN deficiency thus presents the phenotypic spectrum caused by a quintessential lack of functional caveolae.
Author Summary
Patients with generalized lipodystrophy have a marked lack of body fat. Several gene defects have been described that impede fat synthesis and maturation of fat cells. Here we report on mutations in a novel gene, called PTRF-CAVIN, causing congenital generalized lipodystrophy type 4 (CGL4) that is additionally associated with muscle disease. Patients' muscles are large but weak and show an involuntary, rolling contraction pattern called “rippling.” Further symptoms comprise life-threatening cardiac arrhythmias and a disorder of bone formation. We searched for shared segments in the genome of seven patients and found the responsible gene, called PTRF-CAVIN, on chromosome 17. This gene is crucial for caveolae (latin for “small caves”) formation. These small indentations of the cell membrane are found on the surface of muscle, bone, fat, and immune cells and facilitate cell-to-cell communication and the absorption of substances from the extracellular space. Patients lack more than 97% of caveolae and artificial insertion of the correct gene into patient skin cells led to the reappearance of caveolae. As cardiac arrhythmia is a severe and potentially life-threatening condition, patients with CGL4 should be closely monitored by ECG and, if necessary, fitted with an implanted pacemaker and cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) device.
PMCID: PMC2837386  PMID: 20300641
25.  A36-dependent Actin Filament Nucleation Promotes Release of Vaccinia Virus 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(3):e1003239.
Cell-to-cell transmission of vaccinia virus can be mediated by enveloped virions that remain attached to the outer surface of the cell or those released into the medium. During egress, the outer membrane of the double-enveloped virus fuses with the plasma membrane leaving extracellular virus attached to the cell surface via viral envelope proteins. Here we report that F-actin nucleation by the viral protein A36 promotes the disengagement of virus attachment and release of enveloped virus. Cells infected with the A36YdF virus, which has mutations at two critical tyrosine residues abrogating localised actin nucleation, displayed a 10-fold reduction in virus release. We examined A36YdF infected cells by transmission electron microscopy and observed that during release, virus appeared trapped in small invaginations at the plasma membrane. To further characterise the mechanism by which actin nucleation drives the dissociation of enveloped virus from the cell surface, we examined recombinant viruses by super-resolution microscopy. Fluorescently-tagged A36 was visualised at sub-viral resolution to image cell-virus attachment in mutant and parental backgrounds. We confirmed that A36YdF extracellular virus remained closely associated to the plasma membrane in small membrane pits. Virus-induced actin nucleation reduced the extent of association, thereby promoting the untethering of virus from the cell surface. Virus release can be enhanced via a point mutation in the luminal region of B5 (P189S), another virus envelope protein. We found that the B5P189S mutation led to reduced contact between extracellular virus and the host membrane during release, even in the absence of virus-induced actin nucleation. Our results posit that during release virus is tightly tethered to the host cell through interactions mediated by viral envelope proteins. Untethering of virus into the surrounding extracellular space requires these interactions be relieved, either through the force of actin nucleation or by mutations in luminal proteins that weaken these interactions.
Author Summary
Traversing the plasma membrane of the host cell is a significant challenge for many viruses during the infection cycle, and the efficiency of detachment from the host cell and subsequent release can have implications in pathogenesis. Vaccinia virus exits cells through the loss of an outer membrane but remains attached via viral envelope proteins that mediate adhesion between the cell and virus. Here we report that actin filament nucleation by the viral protein A36 promotes the disengagement of virus attachment. Viruses unable to locally induce actin nucleation displayed significantly reduced release and particles were found trapped in small pits at the plasma membrane. Mutations in luminal viral proteins that disrupt attachment identified an alternative route to virus release, bypassing the requirement for actin nucleation. Our results suggest that untethering virus attachment to the cell surface is a rate-limiting step during exocytic release of vaccinia virus. We have elucidated that the force of actin nucleation is the primary mechanism that operates to relieve these interactions.
PMCID: PMC3605287  PMID: 23555252

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