In patients with subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), which is associated with persistent measles virus (MV) infection in the brain, little infectious virus can be recovered despite the presence of viral RNA and protein. Based on studies of brain tissue from SSPE patients and our work with MV-infected NSE-CD46+ mice, which express the measles receptor CD46 on neurons, several lines of evidence suggest that the mechanism of viral spread in the central nervous system differs from that in nonneuronal cells. To examine this alternate mechanism of viral spread, as well as the basis for the loss of normal transmission mechanisms, infection and spread of MV Edmonston was evaluated in primary CD46+ neurons from transgenic mice and differentiated human NT2 neurons. As expected, unlike that between fibroblasts, viral spread between neurons occurred in the absence of syncytium formation and with minimal extracellular virus. Electron microscopy analysis showed that viral budding did not occur from the neuronal surface, although nucleocapsids were present in the cytoplasm and aligned at the cell membrane. We observed many examples of nucleocapsids present in the neuronal processes and aligned at presynaptic neuronal membranes. Cocultures of CD46+ and CD46− neurons showed that cell contact but not CD46 expression is required for MV spread between neurons. Collectively, these results suggest that the neuronal environment prevents the normal mechanisms of MV spread between neurons at the level of viral assembly but allows an alternate, CD46-independent mechanism of viral transmission, possibly through the synapse.
Measles virus (MV) infection of the human central nervous system (CNS) typically involves widespread infection of neurons. However, little is known about how they become infected, how defective virus arises and accumulates, or how virus spreads among the cells of the CNS. In vitro studies of viral interactions with human neuronal cells may contribute to the resolution of such issues. In mixed cultures containing differentiated human neuronal (hNT2) cells and neuroepithelial cells, immunofluorescence studies show that the neurons, unlike both their NT2 progenitors and the neuroepithelial cells, are not initially susceptible to MV infection. This is possibly due to their lack of expression of CD46, a known cell surface receptor for MV. Later in the course of infection, however, both MV proteins and genomic RNA become detectable in their processes, where they contact infected, fully permissive neuroepithelial cells. Such a mechanism of virus transfer may be involved in the initiation and spread of persistent MV infection in diseases such as subacute sclerosing panencephalitis. Furthermore, mutated defective virus may readily accumulate and spread without the need, at any stage, for viral maturation and budding.
Measles virus (MV), a morbillivirus that remains a significant human pathogen, can infect the central nervous system, resulting in rare but often fatal diseases, such as subacute sclerosing panencephalitis. Previous work demonstrated that MV was transmitted trans-synaptically, and that, while a cellular receptor for the hemagglutinin (H) protein was required for MV entry, it was dispensable for subsequent cell-to-cell spread. Here, we explored what role the other envelope protein, fusion (F), played in trans-synaptic transport. We made the following observations: 1) MV-F expression in infected neurons was similar to that seen in infected fibroblasts; 2) fusion inhibitory peptide (FIP), an inhibitor of MV fusion, prevented both infection and spread in primary neurons; 3) Substance P, a neurotransmitter with the same active site as FIP, also blocked neuronal MV spread; and 4) both genetic deletion and pharmacological inhibition of the Substance P receptor, neurokinin-1 (NK-1), reduced infection of susceptible mice. Together, these data implicate a role for NK-1 in MV CNS infection and spread, perhaps serving as a MVF receptor or co-receptor on neurons.
Measles; Fusion inhibitory peptide; Substance P; neuron; subacute sclerosing panencephalitis; central nervous system; fusion; CD46; spread; neurokinin-1
The persistence of measles virus in selected areas of the brains of four patients with subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) was characterized by immunohistological and biochemical techniques. The five measles virus structural proteins were never simultaneously detectable in any of the brain sections. Nucleocapsid proteins and phosphoproteins were found in every diseased brain area, whereas hemagglutinin protein was detected in two cases, fusion protein was detected in three cases, and matrix protein was detected in only one case. Also, it could be shown that the amounts of measles virus RNA in the brains differed from patient to patient and in the different regions investigated. In all patients, plus-strand RNAs specific for these five viral genes could be detected. However, the amounts of fusion and hemagglutinin mRNAs were low compared with the amounts in lytically infected cells. The presence of particular measles virus RNAs in SSPE-infected brains did not always correlate with mRNA activity. In in vitro translations, the matrix protein was produced in only one case, and the hemagglutinin protein was produced in none. These results indicate that measles virus persistence in SSPE is correlated with different defects of several genes which probably prevent assembly of viral particles in SSPE-infected brain tissue.
Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) is a fatal degenerative disease caused by persistent measles virus (MV) infection in the central nervous system (CNS). From the genetic study of MV isolates obtained from SSPE patients, it is thought that defects of the matrix (M) protein play a crucial role in MV pathogenicity in the CNS. In this study, we report several notable mutations in the extracellular domain of the MV fusion (F) protein, including those found in multiple SSPE strains. The F proteins with these mutations induced syncytium formation in cells lacking SLAM and nectin 4 (receptors used by wild-type MV), including human neuronal cell lines, when expressed together with the attachment protein hemagglutinin. Moreover, recombinant viruses with these mutations exhibited neurovirulence in suckling hamsters, unlike the parental wild-type MV, and the mortality correlated with their fusion activity. In contrast, the recombinant MV lacking the M protein did not induce syncytia in cells lacking SLAM and nectin 4, although it formed larger syncytia in cells with either of the receptors. Since human neuronal cells are mainly SLAM and nectin 4 negative, fusion-enhancing mutations in the extracellular domain of the F protein may greatly contribute to MV spread via cell-to-cell fusion in the CNS, regardless of defects of the M protein.
The cytoplasmic tail of the measles virus (MV) fusion (F) protein is often altered in viruses which spread through the brain of patients suffering from subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE). We transferred the coding regions of F tails from SSPE viruses in an MV genomic cDNA. Similarly, we constructed and transferred mutated tail-encoding regions of the other viral glycoprotein hemagglutinin (H) gene. From the mutated genomic cDNAs, we achieved rescue of viruses that harbor different alterations of the F tail, deletions in the membrane-distal half of the H tail, and combinations of these mutations. Viruses with alterations in any of the tails spread rapidly through the monolayer via enhanced cell-cell fusion. Double-tail mutants had even higher fusion competence but slightly decreased infectivity. Analysis of the protein composition of released mutant viral particles indicated that the tails are necessary for accurate virus envelope assembly and suggested a direct F tail-matrix (M) protein interaction. Since even tail-altered glycoproteins colocalized with M protein in intracellular patches, additional interactions may exist. We conclude that in MV infections, including SSPE, the glycoprotein tails are involved not only in virus envelope assembly but also in the control of virus-induced cell fusion.
Application of neutralizing anti-hemagglutinin antibodies to mouse neuroblastoma cells (NS20Y/MS) persistently infected with measles virus (MV) leads to a significant reduction of viral structural proteins within 6 days. While the transcriptional gradient for MV-specific mRNAs remained unaffected upon antibody treatment, the total amount of MV-specific transcripts dropped by 80% after 24 h. The expression of genomic RNA was affected similarly, with slightly slower time kinetics. Both transcription and expression of the viral structural proteins could be completely reactivated when viral antibodies were removed from the tissue culture. The same findings could be obtained in rat glioma cells persistently infected with subacute sclerosing panencephalitis virus (C6/SSPE) but not in cells of nonneural origin. The data indicate that antibody-induced antigenic modulation affects the early stages of viral transcription within a few hours after the addition of antibodies and leads to an almost complete repression of viral gene expression in cells of neural origin.
Measles is a highly contagious human disease caused by measles virus (MeV) and remains the leading cause of death in children, particularly in developing countries. Wild-type MeV preferentially infects lymphocytes by using signaling lymphocytic activation molecule (SLAM), whose expression is restricted to hematopoietic cells, as a receptor. MeV also infects other epithelial and neuronal cells that do not express SLAM and causes pneumonia and diarrhea and, sometimes, serious symptoms such as measles encephalitis and subacute sclerosing panencephalitis. The discrepancy between the tissue tropism of MeV and the distribution of SLAM-positive cells suggests that there are unknown receptors other than SLAM for MeV. Here we identified CD147/EMMPRIN (extracellular matrix metalloproteinase inducer), a transmembrane glycoprotein, which acts as a receptor for MeV on epithelial cells. Furthermore, we found the incorporation of cyclophilin B (CypB), a cellular ligand for CD147, in MeV virions, and showed that inhibition of CypB incorporation significantly attenuated SLAM-independent infection on epithelial cells, while it had no effect on SLAM-dependent infection. To date, MeV infection was considered to be triggered by binding of its hemagglutinin (H) protein and cellular receptors. Our present study, however, indicates that MeV infection also occurs via CD147 and virion-associated CypB, independently of MeV H. Since CD147 is expressed in a variety of cells, including epithelial and neuronal cells, this molecule possibly functions as an entry receptor for MeV in SLAM-negative cells. This is the first report among members of the Mononegavirales that CD147 is used as a virus entry receptor via incorporated CypB in the virions.
Measles remains one of the most important causes of child morbidity and mortality worldwide with the greatest burden in the youngest children. Most acute measles deaths are due to secondary infections that result from a poorly understood measles-induced suppression of immune responses. Young children are also vulnerable to late development of subacute sclerosing panencephalitis, a progressive, uniformly fatal neurologic disease caused by persistent measles virus (MeV) infection. During acute infection, the rash marks the appearance of the adaptive immune response and CD8+ T cell-mediated clearance of infectious virus. However, after clearance of infectious virus, MeV RNA persists and can be detected in blood, respiratory secretions, urine and lymphoid tissue for many weeks to months. This prolonged period of virus clearance may help to explain measles immunosuppression and the development of lifelong immunity to re-infection, as well as occasional infection of the nervous system. Once MeV infects neurons, the virus can spread transynaptically and the envelope proteins needed to form infectious virus are unnecessary, accumulate mutations and can establish persistent infection. Identification of the immune mechanisms required for clearance of MeV RNA from multiple sites will enlighten our understanding of the development of disease due to persistent infection.
Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis; CD8+ T cells; rhesus macaques; virus clearance; innate immunity; adaptive immunity
Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis is a slowly progressing fatal human disease of the central nervous system which is a delayed sequel of measles virus (MV) infection. A typical pathological feature of this disease is the presence of viral ribonucleocapsid structures in the form of inclusion bodies and the absence of infectious virus or budding viral particles. The mechanisms governing the establishment and maintenance of a persistent MV infection in brain cells are still largely unknown. To understand the mechanisms underlying MV persistence in neuronal cells, a tissue culture model was studied. Clone NS20Y/MS of the murine neuroblastoma C1300 persistently infected with the wild-type Edmonston strain of MV secretes relatively high levels of alpha/beta interferon (IFN). As shown previously, treatment of the persistently infected cultures with anti-IFN serum converted the persistent state into a productive infection indicated by the appearance of multinucleated giant cells. In this study, we have investigated whether alpha/beta IFN produced by NS20Y/MS cells activates cellular protein tyrosine kinases which will induce tyrosine phosphorylating activity specific to virus-infected cells. We present data to show augmented protein tyrosine kinase activity in the persistently infected cells. We demonstrate that the MV N protein is phosphorylated on tyrosine in addition to serine and threonine in the persistent state but not in NS20Y cells acutely infected with MV.
Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) is a demyelinating central nervous system disease caused by a persistent measles virus (MV) infection of neurons and glial cells. There is still no specific therapy available, and in spite of an intact innate and adaptive immune response, SSPE leads inevitably to death. In order to select effective antiviral short interfering RNAs (siRNAs), we established a plasmid-based test system expressing the mRNA of DsRed2 fused with mRNA sequences of single viral genes, to which certain siRNAs were directed. siRNA sequences were expressed as short hairpin RNA (shRNA) from a lentiviral vector additionally expressing enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) as an indicator. Evaluation by flow cytometry of the dual-color system (DsRed and EGFP) allowed us to find optimal shRNA sequences. Using the most active shRNA constructs, we transduced persistently infected human NT2 cells expressing virus-encoded HcRed (piNT2-HcRed) as an indicator of infection. shRNA against N, P, and L mRNAs of MV led to a reduction of the infection below detectable levels in a high percentage of transduced piNT2-HcRed cells within 1 week. The fraction of virus-negative cells in these cultures was constant over at least 3 weeks posttransduction in the presence of a fusion-inhibiting peptide (Z-Phe-Phe-Gly), preventing the cell fusion of potentially cured cells with persistently infected cells. Transduced piNT2 cells that lost HcRed did not fuse with underlying Vero/hSLAM cells, indicating that these cells do not express viral proteins any more and are “cured.” This demonstrates in tissue culture that NT2 cells persistently infected with MV can be cured by the transduction of lentiviral vectors mediating the long-lasting expression of anti-MV shRNA.
The interaction of measles virus with RG-6 cells derived from rat glioma was investigated. When a culture of RG-6 cells was infected with measles virus, the synthesis of viral antigens was detected in very few cells, at most 5%. The apparent resistance to measles virus infection was also repeatedly found in all of the subclonal cells derived form RG-6 cells. Although all of the virus-synthesizing cells had the ability to form plaques on Vero cells, they produced only a reduced amount of infectious virus, i.e., 0.1 plaque-forming units per cell. These results imply the existence of some mechanism that regulates growth of measles virus in cultures of RG-6 cells. The transmission of genetic material of measles virus from infected RG-6 cells to Vero cells was not inhibited in the presence of antiviral serum. This fact may provide a basis for interpretation of the persistence of virus, in the presence of antibody, in patients with subacute sclerosing panencephalitis.
Subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) is a fatal sequela associated with measles and is caused by persistent infection of the brain with measles virus (MV). The SI strain was isolated in 1976 from a patient with SSPE and shows neurovirulence in animals. Genome nucleotide sequence analyses showed that the SI strain genome possesses typical genome alterations for SSPE-derived strains, namely, accumulated amino acid substitutions in the M protein and cytoplasmic tail truncation of the F protein. Through the establishment of an efficient reverse genetics system, a recombinant SI strain expressing a green fluorescent protein (rSI-AcGFP) was generated. The infection of various cell types with rSI-AcGFP was evaluated by fluorescence microscopy. rSI-AcGFP exhibited limited syncytium-forming activity and spread poorly in cells. Analyses using a recombinant MV possessing a chimeric genome between those of the SI strain and a wild-type MV strain indicated that the membrane-associated protein genes (M, F, and H) were responsible for the altered growth phenotype of the SI strain. Functional analyses of viral glycoproteins showed that the F protein of the SI strain exhibited reduced fusion activity because of an E300G substitution and that the H protein of the SI strain used CD46 efficiently but used the original MV receptors on immune and epithelial cells poorly because of L482F, S546G, and F555L substitutions. The data obtained in the present study provide a new platform for analyses of SSPE-derived strains as well as a clear example of an SSPE-derived strain that exhibits altered receptor specificity and limited fusion activity.
A measles virus (MV) genome originally derived from brain cells of a subacute sclerosing panencephalitis patient expressed in IP-3-Ca cells an unstable MV matrix protein and was unable to produce virus particles. Transfection of this MV genome into other cell lines did not relieve these defects, showing that they are ultimately encoded by viral mutations. However, these defects were partially relieved in a weakly infectious virus which emerged from IP-3-Ca cells and which produced a matrix protein of intermediate stability. The sequences of several cDNAs related to the unstable and intermediately stable matrix proteins showed many differences in comparison with a stable matrix protein sequence and even appreciable heterogeneity among themselves. Nevertheless, partial restoration of matrix protein stability could be ascribed to a single additional amino acid change. From an examination of additional genes, we estimated that, on average, each MV genome in IP-3-Ca cells differs from the others in 30 to 40 of its 16,000 bases. The role of extreme variability of RNA virus genomes in persistent viral infections is discussed in the context of the pathogenesis of subacute sclerosing panencephalitis and of other human diseases of suspected viral etiology.
An appendix removed 15 days before onset of symptoms of subacute sclerosing panencephalitis was examined retrospectively for measles virus ribonucleic acid (RNA). Tissue sections hybridised in situ to a cloned measles virus probe of deoxyribonucleic acid specific for nucleocapsid protein showed that many cells of the lymphoid tissue contained measles virus RNA. In contrast, only a few infected lymphoid cells were detected in three out of six seropositive controls and none in three seronegative infants. A widespread chronic viral infection of the immune system, established after measles, may promote or even initiate nerve cell infection in subacute sclerosing panencephalitis.
Groups of oligoclonal immunoglobulin G (IgG) bands were isolated from sera of patients with subacute sclerosing panencephalitis by employing preparative isoelectric focusing. Six IgG fractions containing two to three oligoclonal bands with different isoelectric points were used to precipitate the proteins from Vero cells infected with measles virus. The results showed that all of the measles virus proteins except the M protein were precipitated by all of the IgG fractions and that the precipitation of viral proteins by the fractions containing groups of oligoclonal IgG showed slightly different patterns in some sera, whereas other sera showed no significant differences. The present study indicates that oligoclonal IgGs in subacute sclerosing panencephalitis sera are not specific to individual measles virus proteins.
Measles virus protein synthesis has been analyzed in acutely and persistently infected cells. To assess the role of measles in subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE), measles viral proteins synthesized in vivo or in vitro were tested for reactivity with serum from a guinea pig(s) immunized with measles virus and sera from patients with SSPE. Guinea pig antimeasles virus serum immunoprecipitates the viral polypeptides of 78,000 molecular weight (glycosylated [G]), 70,000 molecular weight (phosphorylated [P]), 60,000 molecular weight (nucleocapsid [N]), and 35,000 molecular weight (matrix [M]) from cells acutely infected with measles virus as well as from chronically infected cells, but in the latter case, immunoprecipitated M protein has a reduced electrophoretic migration. Sera of SSPE patients immunoprecipitated all but the G protein in acutely infected cells and only the P and N proteins from chronically infected cells. In immunoprecipitates of viral polypeptides synthesized in a reticulocyte cell-free translation system, in response to mRNA from acutely or persistently infected cells, the 78,000-molecular-weight form of the G protein was not detected among the cell-free products of either mRNA. Guinea pig antimeasles virus serum immunoprecipitated P, N, and M polypeptides from the products of either form of mRNA, whereas SSPE serum immunoprecipitated the P and N polypeptides but not the M polypeptide. The differences in immunoreactivity of the antimeasles virus antiserum and the SSPE serum are discussed in terms of possible modifications of measles virus proteins in SSPE.
In many cases of neurological disease associated with viral infection, such as measles virus (MV)-induced subacute sclerosing panencephalitis in children, it is unclear whether the virus or the antiviral immune response within the brain is the cause of disease. MV inoculation of transgenic mice expressing the human MV receptor, CD46, exclusively in neurons resulted in neuronal infection and fatal encephalitis within 2 weeks in neonates, while mice older than 3 weeks of age were resistant to both infection and disease. At all ages, T lymphocytes infiltrated the brain in response to inoculation. To determine the role of lymphocytes in disease progression, CD46+ mice were back-crossed to T- and B-cell-deficient RAG-2 knockout mice. The lymphocyte deficiency did not affect the outcome of disease in neonates, but adult CD46+ RAG-2− mice were much more susceptible to both neuronal infection and central nervous system disease than their immunocompetent littermates. These results indicate that CD46-dependent MV infection of neurons, rather than the antiviral immune response in the brain, produces neurological disease in this model system and that immunocompetent adult mice, but not immunologically compromised or immature mice, are protected from infection.
The retrograde suppression of the synaptic transmission by the endocannabinoid sn-2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG) is mediated by the cannabinoid CB1 receptors and requires the elevation of intracellular Ca2+ and the activation of specific 2-AG synthesizing (i.e., DAGLα) enzymes. However, the anatomical organization of the neuronal substrates that express 2-AG/CB1 signaling system-related molecules associated with selective Ca2+-binding proteins (CaBPs) is still unknown. For this purpose, we used double-label immunofluorescence and confocal laser scanning microscopy for the characterization of the expression of the 2-AG/CB1 signaling system (CB1 receptor, DAGLα, MAGL, and FAAH) and the CaBPs calbindin D28k, calretinin, and parvalbumin in the rat hippocampus. CB1, DAGLα, and MAGL labeling was mainly localized in fibers and neuropil, which were differentially organized depending on the hippocampal CaBPs-expressing cells. CB+1 fiber terminals localized in all hippocampal principal cell layers were tightly attached to calbindin+ cells (granular and pyramidal neurons), and calretinin+ and parvalbumin+ interneurons. DAGLα neuropil labeling was selectively found surrounding calbindin+ principal cells in the dentate gyrus and CA1, and in the calretinin+ and parvalbumin+ interneurons in the pyramidal cell layers of the CA1/3 fields. MAGL+ terminals were only observed around CA1 calbindin+ pyramidal cells, CA1/3 calretinin+ interneurons and CA3 parvalbumin+ interneurons localized in the pyramidal cell layers. Interestingly, calbindin+ pyramidal cells expressed FAAH specifically in the CA1 field. The identification of anatomically related-neuronal substrates that expressed 2-AG/CB1 signaling system and selective CaBPs should be considered when analyzing the cannabinoid signaling associated with hippocampal functions.
cannabinoid receptor; 2-arachidonoylglycerol; calcium-binding protein; hippocampus; rat; immunohistochemistry; confocal microscopy
The elevation of culture temperatures of C6 cells that were persistently infected with the Lec strain of the subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) virus (C6/SSPE) resulted in immediate selective inhibition of membrane (M) protein synthesis. This phenomenon was confirmed by sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis of total cytoplasmic lysates and immunoprecipitation with monoclonal antibody against the M protein in short-time labeling experiments. The synthesis of various viral mRNAs in the presence of actinomycin D decreased gradually at similar rates after a shift to 39 degrees C. No specific disappearance of the mRNA coding for the M protein was observed when viral RNAs isolated from the infected cells were compared before and after a shift up by Northern blot analysis. Results of pulse-chase experiments did not show any significant difference in M protein stability between 35 and 39 degrees C. This rapid block of M protein synthesis was observed not only in Vero cells that were lytically infected with plaque-purified clones from the Lec strain, clones isolated from C6/SSPE cells and the standard Edmonston strain of measles virus but also in CV1, MA160, and HeLa cells that were lytically infected with the Edmonston strain. Poly(A)+ RNAs that were extracted from C6/SSPE cells before and after a shift to 39 degrees C produced detectable phospho, nucleocapsid, and M proteins in cell-free translation systems at 32 degrees C. Even higher incubation temperatures did not demonstrate the selective depression of M protein synthesis described above in vitro. All these data indicate that M protein synthesis of measles virus is selectively suppressed at elevated temperatures because of an inability of the translation apparatus to interact with the M protein-encoded mRNA.
Interaction between the Edmonston or Nagahata strain of acute measles virus (MV) and the defective Biken strain of MV isolated from a patient with subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) was examined by a cell fusion protocol. Biken-CV-1 cells nonproductively infected with Biken strain SSPE virus were fused with neomycin-resistant CV-1 cells. All the fused cells selected with the neomycin analog G418 expressed Biken viral proteins, as determined by an immunofluorescence assay. This procedure enabled the transfer of Biken viral genomes into cells previously infected with MV. In the fused cells coinfected by Biken strain SSPE virus and Edmonston or Nagahata strain MV, early MV gene expression was suppressed, as determined by immunoprecipitation with strain-specific antibodies. Maturation of Edmonston strain MV was also suppressed. When the coinfected fused cells were selected with G418, Biken viral proteins remained at a constant level for up to 7 weeks. Wild-type MV proteins gradually decreased to a barely detectable level after 4 weeks and became undetectable after 7 weeks. Immunofluorescence studies showed a steady decline in cells expressing wild-type MV proteins in the coinfected cultures. These results suggest that Biken strain SSPE virus dominantly interferes with the replication of wild-type MV. The possible mechanisms of dominant interference and the implication for evolution of a persistent MV infection are discussed.
CD46, which serves as a receptor for measles virus (MV; strain Edmonston), is rapidly downregulated from the cell surface after contact with viral particles or infected cells. We show here that the same two CD46 complement control protein (CCP) domains responsible for primary MV attachment mediate its downregulation. Optimal downregulation efficiency was obtained with CD46 recombinants containing CCP domains 1 and 2, whereas CCP 1, alone and duplicated, induced a slight downregulation. Using persistently infected monocytic/promyelocytic U937 cells which release very small amounts of infectious virus, and uninfected HeLa cells as contact partners, we then showed that during contact the formation of CD46-containing patches and caps precedes CD46 internalization. Nevertheless, neither substances inhibiting capping nor the fusion-inhibiting peptide Z-d-Phe-l-Phe-Gly-OH (FIP) blocked CD46 downregulation. Thus, CD46 downregulation can be uncoupled from fusion and subsequent virus uptake. Interestingly, in that system cell-cell contacts lead to a remarkably efficient infection of the target cells which is only partially inhibited by FIP. The finding that the contact of an infected with uninfected cells results in transfer of infectious viral material without significant (complete) fusion of the donor with the recipient cell suggests that microfusion events and/or FIP-independent mechanisms may mediate the transfer of MV infectivity from cell to cell.
The pseudorabies virus (PRV) Us9 protein plays a central role in targeting viral capsids and glycoproteins to axons of dissociated sympathetic neurons. As a result, Us9 null mutants are defective in anterograde transmission of infection in vivo. However, it is unclear how Us9 promotes axonal sorting of so many viral proteins. It is known that the glycoproteins gB, gC, gD and gE are associated with lipid raft microdomains on the surface of infected swine kidney cells and monocytes, and are directed into the axon in a Us9-dependent manner. In this report, we determined that Us9 is associated with lipid rafts, and that this association is critical to Us9-mediated sorting of viral structural proteins. We used infected non-polarized and polarized PC12 cells, a rat pheochromocytoma cell line that acquires many of the characteristics of sympathetic neurons in the presence of nerve growth factor (NGF). In these cells, Us9 is highly enriched in detergent-resistant membranes (DRMs). Moreover, reducing the affinity of Us9 for lipid rafts inhibited anterograde transmission of infection from sympathetic neurons to epithelial cells in vitro. We conclude that association of Us9 with lipid rafts is key for efficient targeting of structural proteins to axons and, as a consequence, for directional spread of PRV from pre-synaptic to post-synaptic neurons and cells of the mammalian nervous system.
Alpha herpesviruses are common mammalian pathogens (e.g. herpes simplex and chickenpox virus infect humans). These viruses enter and spread in and out of the mammalian nervous system, a defining hallmark of their lifecycle and potential pathogenesis. Neurons are polarized cells, and the movement of certain cellular proteins is highly restricted to the cell body, to dendrites, or to axons. Indeed, the axon harbors only a small subset of neuronal proteins. Thus, it is remarkable that these viruses efficiently gather and move their structural components from the cell body to the axon after infection of neurons. Previously, we identified a small viral membrane protein (known as Us9) that mediates the efficient targeting of virus particles to axons of infected neurons. We now report that Us9 must localize to “lipid raft” domains, specialized regions within cellular membranes to promote axonal targeting. Reducing the affinity of Us9 for lipid rafts dramatically reduces sorting of structural proteins to axons. This is the first report, to our knowledge, to implicate lipid rafts in targeting alpha herpesvirus structural proteins to axons, an essential step for spread of infection in the mammalian nervous system.
Ribonucleoprotein (RNP) cores extracted from virions of wild-type (Edmonston strain) measles virus (MV) or obtained from MV-infected cells (cRNP) were shown to be capable of transcribing RNA in vitro but at relatively low efficiency. The tightly bound matrix (M) protein could be effectively removed from virion RNP (vRNP) and from cRNP by exposure to buffers of high ionic strength (0.5 to 1.0 M KCl) but only at pH 8.0 or higher. The vRNP and cRNP cores complexed with M protein exhibited markedly reduced transcriptional activity at increasing concentrations, whereas vRNP and cRNP cores free of M protein exhibited linear and substantially higher transcriptional activity; these data suggest that M protein is the endogenous inhibitor of MV RNP transcription. M-gene cDNA clones derived from three strains of wild-type (wt) MV and 10 clones from mRNAs isolated from the brain tissue of patients who had died from subacute sclerosing panencephalitis (SSPE) and from measles inclusion body encephalitis (MIBE) were recloned in the pTM-1 expression vector driven by the bacteriophage T7 RNA polymerase expressed by a coinfecting vaccinia virus recombinant. All 10 mutant SSPE and MIBE clones expressed in vitro and in vivo M proteins that reacted with monospecific anti-M polyclonal antibody and migrated on polyacrylamide gels to positions identical to or only slightly different from those of the M proteins expressed by wt MV clones. When reconstituted with cRNP cores, the three expressed wt M proteins and 6 of the 10 mutant-expressed M proteins showed equivalent capacity to down-regulate MV transcription. Three of the M proteins from SSPE clones and one from the MIBE clone showed little or no capacity to down-regulate transcription when reconstituted with cRNP cores. The only plausible explanations for loss of transcription inhibition activity by the four SSPE/MIBE M proteins were exceedingly high degrees of hypermutations leading to U-->C transitions and cloning-corrected mutations in the initiator codon (ATG-->ACG) of the four M genes. However, only the hypermutated M protein expressed by the MIBE cDNA clone exhibited virtually no capacity to bind cRNP cores in a reconstitution assay. These experiments provide some preliminary data to support the hypothesis that MV encephalitis may result from certain selective mutations in the M gene.
Young adult ferrets were immunized with measles vaccine and 5 to 6 weeks later inoculated intracerebrally with Vero cells persistently infected with cell-associated strain D.R. of measles virus isolated from a patient with subacute sclerosing panencephalitis. Of nine ferrets which survived the infection for 3 weeks or longer, five showed neurological signs. At the time of death they had widespread inflammation in their brains, and cell-associated virus was isolated from three ferrets sacrificed from 5 weeks to 7 months after inoculation. Four ferrets did not develop clinical signs, but two of these had mild inflammation in the brain 7 months and 2 1/2 years after inoculation, respectively. Cerebrospinal fluids drawn by cisternal puncture from infected ferrets at the time of sacrifice had neutralizing titers against measles virus similar to the titers found in sera, but antibody against the measles virus matrix protein was not detectable. Cerebrospinal fluid showed increased immunoglobulin G (IgG) and had distinct measles virus-specific oligoclonal IgG bands. The intensity of the bands correlated with the neutralizing titers of the fluids. These results confirm and extend earlier findings and indicate that persistent measles virus infection in ferrets is similar to human subacute sclerosing panencephalitis and can be used to study certain aspects of persistent brain infections leading to subacute encephalitis.