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1.  Functional Characterization of Nuclear Trafficking Signals in Pseudorabies Virus pUL31 
Journal of Virology  2014;89(4):2002-2012.
The herpesviral nuclear egress complex (NEC), consisting of pUL31 and pUL34 homologs, mediates efficient translocation of newly synthesized capsids from the nucleus to the cytosol. The tail-anchored membrane protein pUL34 is autonomously targeted to the nuclear envelope, while pUL31 is recruited to the inner nuclear membrane (INM) by interaction with pUL34. A nuclear localization signal (NLS) in several pUL31 homologs suggests importin-mediated translocation of the protein. Here we demonstrate that deletion or mutation of the NLS in pseudorabies virus (PrV) pUL31 resulted in exclusively cytosolic localization, indicating active nuclear export. Deletion or mutation of a predicted nuclear export signal (NES) in mutant constructs lacking a functional NLS resulted in diffuse nuclear and cytosolic localization, indicating that both signals are functional. pUL31 molecules lacking the complete NLS or NES were not recruited to the INM by pUL34, while site-specifically mutated proteins formed the NEC and partially complemented the defect of the UL31 deletion mutant. Our data demonstrate that the N terminus of pUL31, encompassing the NLS, is required for efficient nuclear targeting but not for pUL34 interaction, while the C terminus, containing the NES but not necessarily the NES itself, is required for complex formation and efficient budding of viral capsids at the INM. Moreover, pUL31-ΔNLS displayed a dominant negative effect on wild-type PrV replication, probably by diverting pUL34 to cytoplasmic membranes.
IMPORTANCE The molecular details of nuclear egress of herpesvirus capsids are still enigmatic. Although the key players, homologs of herpes simplex virus pUL34 and pUL31, which interact and form the heterodimeric nuclear egress complex, are well known, the molecular basis of this interaction and the successive budding, vesicle formation, and scission from the INM, as well as capsid release into the cytoplasm, remain largely obscure. Here we show that classical cellular targeting signals for nuclear import and export are important for proper localization and function of the NEC, thus regulating herpesvirus nuclear egress.
PMCID: PMC4338865  PMID: 25505082
2.  Deletion Mutants of Schmallenberg Virus Are Avirulent and Protect from Virus Challenge 
Journal of Virology  2014;89(3):1825-1837.
Since its emergence, Schmallenberg virus (SBV), a novel insect-transmitted orthobunyavirus which predominantly infects ruminants, has caused a large epidemic in European livestock. Newly developed inactivated vaccines are available, but highly efficacious and safe live vaccines are still not available. Here, the properties of novel recombinant SBV mutants lacking the nonstructural protein NSs (rSBVΔNSs) or NSm (rSBVΔNSm) or both of these proteins (rSBVΔNSs/ΔNSm) were tested in vitro and in vivo in type I interferon receptor knockout mice (IFNAR−/−) and in a vaccination/challenge trial in cattle. As for other bunyaviruses, both nonstructural proteins of SBV are not essential for viral growth in vitro. In interferon-defective BHK-21 cells, rSBVΔNSs and rSBVΔNSm replicated to levels comparable to that of the parental rSBV; the double mutant virus, however, showed a mild growth defect, resulting in lower final virus titers. Additionally, both mutants with an NSs deletion induced high levels of interferon and showed a marked growth defect in interferon-competent sheep SFT-R cells. Nevertheless, in IFNAR−/− mice, all mutants were virulent, with the highest mortality rate for rSBVΔNSs and a reduced virulence for the NSm-deleted virus. In cattle, SBV lacking NSm caused viremia and seroconversion comparable to those caused by the wild-type virus, while the NSs and the combined NSs/NSm deletion mutant induced no detectable virus replication or clinical disease after immunization. Furthermore, three out of four cattle immunized once with the NSs deletion mutant and all animals vaccinated with the virus lacking both nonstructural proteins were fully protected against a challenge infection. Therefore, the double deletion mutant will provide the basis for further developments of safe and efficacious modified live SBV vaccines which could be also a model for other viruses of the Simbu serogroup and related orthobunyaviruses.
IMPORTANCE SBV induces only mild clinical signs in adult ruminants but causes severe fetal malformation and, thereby, can have an important impact on animal welfare and production. As SBV is an insect-transmitted pathogen, vaccination will be one of the most important aspects of disease control. Here, mutant viruses lacking one or two proteins that essentially contribute to viral pathogenicity were tested as modified live vaccines in cattle. It could be demonstrated that a novel recombinant double deletion mutant is a safe and efficacious vaccine candidate. This is the first description of a putative modified live vaccine for the complete genus Orthobunyavirus, and in addition, such a vaccine type has never been tested in cattle for any virus of the entire family Bunyaviridae. Therefore, the described vaccine also represents the first model for a broad range of related viruses and is of high importance to the field.
PMCID: PMC4300748  PMID: 25410877
3.  Pseudorabies Virus pUL46 Induces Activation of ERK1/2 and Regulates Herpesvirus-Induced Nuclear Envelope Breakdown 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(11):6003-6011.
Herpesvirus capsid morphogenesis occurs in the nucleus, while final maturation takes place in the cytosol, requiring translocation of capsids through the nuclear envelope. The nuclear egress complex, consisting of homologs of herpes simplex virus pUL31 and pUL34, is required for efficient nuclear egress via primary envelopment and de-envelopment. Recently, we described an alternative mode of nuclear escape by fragmentation of the nuclear envelope induced by replication-competent pUL31 and pUL34 deletion mutants of the alphaherpesvirus pseudorabies virus (PrV), which had been selected by serial passaging in cell culture. Both passaged viruses carry congruent mutations in seven genes, including UL46, which encodes one of the major tegument proteins. Herpesvirus pUL46 homologs have recently been shown to activate the PI3K-Akt and ERK1/2 signaling pathways, which are involved in regulation of mitosis and apoptosis. Since in uninfected cells fragmentation of the nuclear envelope occurs during mitosis and apoptosis, we analyzed whether pUL46 of PrV is involved in signaling events impairing the integrity of the nuclear envelope. We show here that PrV pUL46 is able to induce phosphorylation of ERK1/2 and, thus, expression of ERK1/2 target genes but fails to activate the PI3K-Akt pathway. Deletion of UL46 from PrV-ΔUL34Pass and PrV-ΔUL31Pass or replacement by wild-type UL46 resulted in enhanced nuclear envelope breakdown, indicating that the mutations in pUL46 may limit the extent of NEBD. Thus, although pUL46 induces ERK1/2 phosphorylation, controlling the integrity of the nuclear envelope is independent of the ERK1/2 signaling pathway.
IMPORTANCE Herpesvirus nucleocapsids can leave the nucleus by regulated, vesicle-mediated transport through the nuclear envelope, designated nuclear egress, or by inducing nuclear envelope breakdown (NEBD). The viral proteins involved in NEBD are unknown. We show here that the pseudorabies virus tegument protein pUL46 induces the ERK1/2 signaling pathway and modulates NEBD. However, these two processes are independent and ERK1/2 signaling induced by pUL46 is not involved in herpesvirus-induced NEBD.
PMCID: PMC4093849  PMID: 24623429
4.  Identification of Conserved Amino Acids in pUL34 Which Are Critical for Function of the Pseudorabies Virus Nuclear Egress Complex 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(11):6224-6231.
Nuclear egress of herpesvirus capsids is mediated by a conserved heterodimeric complex of two viral proteins, designated pUL34 and pUL31 in herpes simplex virus and pseudorabies virus (PrV). pUL34, a tail-anchored membrane protein, is targeted to the nuclear envelope and recruits pUL31 to the inner nuclear membrane (INM) to provide the docking and envelopment machinery for the nascent capsid. While the less conserved C-terminal part of pUL34 is required for correct positioning of the nuclear egress complex (NEC) at the INM, the conserved N-terminal part functions as a docking site for pUL31. Since no crystal structure of NEC is available yet, structure-function studies depend on mutational analyses, with several approaches already being performed for different herpesvirus NECs. Here, we extended our studies on PrV pUL34 and identified two asparagine residues (N75, N103) and a dileucine motif (LL166/167), adjacent to an endoplasmic reticulum retention signal, which are absolutely required for NEC function. While the pUL34–N75A substitution mutant is unable to interact with pUL31, the pUL34–N103A mutant is nonfunctional, despite continuing complex formation. Surprisingly, mutant pUL34–G77A, which does not efficiently recruit pUL31 to the nuclear rim after cotransfection, nonetheless complements a UL34 deletion mutant, indicating that the NEC may be stabilized by additional viral factors during infection.
IMPORTANCE In the absence of a crystal structure of the nuclear egress complex (NEC) required for herpesvirus maturation, site-directed mutagenesis studies provide important information on critical amino acid residues. Here, we identify conserved amino acid residues in the membrane-bound component of the NEC which are relevant for its function.
PMCID: PMC4093891  PMID: 24648464
5.  Different Regions of the Newcastle Disease Virus Fusion Protein Modulate Pathogenicity 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(12):e113344.
Newcastle disease virus (NDV), also designated as Avian paramyxovirus type 1 (APMV-1), is the causative agent of a notifiable disease of poultry but it exhibits different pathogenicity dependent on the virus strain. The molecular basis for this variability is not fully understood. The efficiency of activation of the fusion protein (F) is determined by presence or absence of a polybasic amino acid sequence at an internal proteolytic cleavage site which is a major determinant of NDV virulence. However, other determinants of pathogenicity must exist since APMV-1 of high (velogenic), intermediate (mesogenic) and low (lentogenic) virulence specify a polybasic F cleavage site. We aimed at elucidation of additional virulence determinants by constructing a recombinant virus that consists of a lentogenic NDV Clone 30 backbone and the F protein gene from a mesogenic pigeon paramyxovirus-1 (PPMV-1) isolate with an intracerebral pathogenicity index (ICPI) of 1.1 specifying the polybasic sequence R-R-K-K-R*F motif at the cleavage site. The resulting virus was characterized by an ICPI of 0.6, indicating a lentogenic pathotype. In contrast, alteration of the cleavage site G-R-Q-G-R*L of the lentogenic Clone 30 to R-R-K-K-R*F resulted in a recombinant virus with an ICPI of 1.36 which was higher than that of parental PPMV-1. Substitution of different regions of the F protein of Clone 30 by those of PPMV-1, while maintaining the polybasic amino acid sequence at the F cleavage site, resulted in recombinant viruses with ICPIs ranging from 0.59 to 1.36 suggesting that virulence is modulated by regions of the F protein other than the polybasic cleavage site.
PMCID: PMC4249879  PMID: 25437176
6.  Characterization of a Novel Picornavirus Isolate from a Diseased European Eel (Anguilla anguilla) 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(19):10895-10899.
A novel picornavirus was isolated from specimens of a diseased European eel (Anguilla anguilla). This virus induced a cytopathic effect in eel embryonic kidney cells and high mortality in a controlled transmission study using elvers. Eel picornavirus has a genome of 7,496 nucleotides that encodes a polyprotein of 2,259 amino acids. It has a typical picornavirus genome layout, but its low similarity to known viral proteins suggests a novel species in the family Picornaviridae.
PMCID: PMC3807381  PMID: 23885066
7.  Glycoproteins gB and gH Are Required for Syncytium Formation but Not for Herpesvirus-Induced Nuclear Envelope Breakdown 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(17):9733-9741.
Herpesvirus nucleocapsids are assembled in the nucleus, whereas maturation into infectious virions takes place in the cytosol. Since, due to their size, nucleocapsids cannot pass the nuclear pores, they traverse the nuclear envelope by vesicle-mediated transport. Nucleocapsids bud at the inner nuclear membrane into the perinuclear space, forming primary enveloped particles and are released into the cytosol after fusion of the primary envelope with the outer nuclear membrane. The nuclear egress complex (NEC), consisting of the conserved herpesvirus proteins (p)UL31 and pUL34, is required for this process, whereas the viral glycoproteins gB and gH, which are essential for fusion during penetration, are not. We recently described herpesvirus-induced nuclear envelope breakdown (NEBD) as an alternative egress pathway used in the absence of the NEC. However, the molecular details of this pathway are still unknown. It has been speculated that glycoproteins involved in fusion during entry might play a role in NEBD. By deleting genes encoding glycoproteins gB and gH from the genome of NEBD-inducing pseudorabies viruses, we demonstrate that these glycoproteins are not required for NEBD but are still necessary for syncytium formation, again emphasizing fundamental differences in herpesvirus-induced alterations at the nuclear envelopes and plasma membranes of infected cells.
PMCID: PMC3754109  PMID: 23824797
8.  Chimeric Newcastle Disease Virus Protects Chickens against Avian Influenza in the Presence of Maternally Derived NDV Immunity 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e72530.
Newcastle disease virus (NDV), an avian paramyxovirus type 1, is a promising vector for expression of heterologous proteins from a variety of unrelated viruses including highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV). However, pre-existing NDV antibodies may impair vector virus replication, resulting in an inefficient immune response against the foreign antigen. A chimeric NDV-based vector with functional surface glycoproteins unrelated to NDV could overcome this problem. Therefore, an NDV vector was constructed which carries the fusion (F) and hemagglutinin-neuraminidase (HN) proteins of avian paramyxovirus type 8 (APMV-8) instead of the corresponding NDV proteins in an NDV backbone derived from the lentogenic NDV Clone 30 and a gene expressing HPAIV H5 inserted between the F and HN genes. After successful virus rescue by reverse genetics, the resulting chNDVFHN PMV8H5 was characterized in vitro and in vivo. Expression and virion incorporation of the heterologous proteins was verified by Western blot and electron microscopy. Replication of the newly generated recombinant virus was comparable to parental NDV in embryonated chicken eggs. Immunization with chNDVFHN PMV8H5 stimulated full protection against lethal HPAIV infection in chickens without as well as with maternally derived NDV antibodies. Thus, tailored NDV vector vaccines can be provided for use in the presence or absence of routine NDV vaccination.
PMCID: PMC3762792  PMID: 24023747
9.  An Epstein-Barr Virus Mutant Produces Immunogenic Defective Particles Devoid of Viral DNA 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(4):2011-2022.
Virus-like particles (VLPs) from hepatitis B and human papillomaviruses have been successfully used as preventative vaccines against these infectious agents. These VLPs consist of a self-associating capsid polymer formed from a single structure protein and are devoid of viral DNA. Since virions from herpesviruses consist of a large number of molecules of viral and cellular origin, generating VLPs from a subset of these would be a particularly arduous task. Therefore, we have adopted an alternative strategy that consists of producing DNA-free defective virus particles in a cell line infected by a herpesvirus mutant incapable of packaging DNA. We previously reported that an Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) mutant devoid of the terminal repeats (ΔTR) that act as packaging signals in herpesviruses produces substantial amounts of VLPs and of light particles (LPs). However, ΔTR virions retained some infectious genomes, and although these mutants had lost their transforming abilities, this poses potential concerns for clinical applications. Therefore, we have constructed a series of mutants that lack proteins involved in maturation and assessed their ability to produce viral DNA-free VLP/LPs. Some of the introduced mutations were deleterious for capsid maturation and virus production. However, deletion of BFLF1/BFRF1A or of BBRF1 resulted in the production of DNA-free VLPs/LPs. The ΔBFLF1/BFRF1A viruses elicited a potent CD4+ T-cell response that was indistinguishable from the one obtained with wild-type controls. In summary, the defective particles produced by the ΔBFLF1/BFRF1A mutant fulfill the criteria of efficacy and safety expected from a preventative vaccine.
PMCID: PMC3571473  PMID: 23236073
10.  Analysis of Viral and Cellular Factors Influencing Herpesvirus-Induced Nuclear Envelope Breakdown 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(12):6512-6521.
Herpesvirus nucleocapsids are translocated from their assembly site in the nucleus to the cytosol by acquisition of a primary envelope at the inner nuclear membrane which subsequently fuses with the outer nuclear membrane. This transport through the nuclear envelope requires homologs of the conserved herpesviral pUL31 and pUL34 proteins which form the nuclear egress complex (NEC). In its absence, 1,000-fold less virus progeny is produced. We isolated a UL34-negative mutant of the alphaherpesvirus pseudorabies virus (PrV), PrV-ΔUL34Pass, which regained replication competence after serial passages in cell culture by inducing nuclear envelope breakdown (NEBD) (B. G. Klupp, H. Granzow, and T. C. Mettenleiter, J. Virol. 85:8285–8292, 2011). To test whether this phenotype is unique, passaging experiments were repeated with a UL31 deletion mutant. After 60 passages, the resulting PrV-ΔUL31Pass replicated similarly to wild-type PrV. Ultrastructural analyses confirmed escape from the nucleus via NEBD, indicating an inherent genetic disposition in herpesviruses. To identify the mutated viral genes responsible for this phenotype, the genome of PrV-ΔUL34Pass was sequenced and compared to the genomes of parental PrV-Ka and PrV-ΔUL34. Targeted sequencing of PrV-ΔUL31Pass disclosed congruent mutations comprising genes encoding tegument proteins (pUL49, pUL46, pUL21, pUS2), envelope proteins (gI, pUS9), and protease pUL26. To investigate involvement of cellular pathways, different inhibitors of cellular kinases were tested. While induction of apoptosis or inhibition of caspases had no specific effect on the passaged mutants, roscovitine, a cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor, and U0126, an inhibitor of MEK1/2, specifically impaired replication of the passaged mutants, indicating involvement of mitosis-related processes in herpesvirus-induced NEBD.
PMCID: PMC3393528  PMID: 22491460
12.  Structural Determinants for Nuclear Envelope Localization and Function of Pseudorabies Virus pUL34 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(4):2079-2088.
Herpesvirus proteins pUL34 and pUL31 form a complex at the inner nuclear membrane (INM) which is necessary for efficient nuclear egress. Pseudorabies virus (PrV) pUL34 is a type II membrane protein of 262 amino acids (aa). The transmembrane region (TM) is predicted to be located between aa 245 and 261, leaving only one amino acid in the C terminus that probably extends into the perinuclear space. It is targeted to the nuclear envelope in the absence of other viral proteins, pointing to intrinsic localization motifs, and shows structural similarity to cellular INM proteins like lamina-associated polypeptide (Lap) 2ß and Emerin. To investigate which domains of pUL34 are relevant for localization and function, we constructed chimeric proteins by replacing parts of pUL34 with regions of cellular INM proteins. First the 18 C-terminal amino acids encompassing the TM were exchanged with TM regions and C-terminal domains of Lap2ß and Emerin or with the first TM region of the polytopic lamin B receptor (LBR), including the nine following amino acids. All resulting chimeric proteins complemented the replication defect of PrV-ΔUL34, demonstrating that the substitution of the TM and the extension of the C-terminal domain does not interfere with the function of pUL34. Complementation was reduced but not abolished when the C-terminal 50 aa were replaced by corresponding Lap2ß sequences (pUL34-LapCT50). However, replacing the C-terminal 100 aa (pUL34-LapCT100) resulted in a nonfunctional protein despite continuing pUL31 binding, pointing to an important functional role of this region. The replacement of the N-terminal 100 aa (pUL34-LapNT100) had no effect on nuclear envelope localization but abrogated pUL31 binding and function.
PMCID: PMC3302415  PMID: 22156520
13.  Nuclear Envelope Breakdown Can Substitute for Primary Envelopment-Mediated Nuclear Egress of Herpesviruses ▿  
Journal of Virology  2011;85(16):8285-8292.
Herpesvirus nucleocapsids assemble in the nucleus but mature to infectious virions in the cytoplasm. To gain access to this cellular compartment, nucleocapsids are translocated to the cytoplasm by primary envelopment at the inner nuclear membrane and subsequent fusion of the primary envelope with the outer nuclear membrane. The conserved viral pUL34 and pUL31 proteins play a crucial role in this process. In their absence, viral replication is strongly impaired but not totally abolished. We used the residual infectivity of a pUL34-deleted mutant of the alphaherpesvirus pseudorabies virus (PrV) for reversion analysis. To this end, PrV-ΔUL34 was serially passaged in rabbit kidney cells until final titers of the mutant virus PrV-ΔUL34Pass were comparable to those of wild-type PrV. PrV-ΔUL34Pass produced infectious progeny independently of the pUL34/pUL31 nuclear egress complex and the pUS3 protein kinase. Ultrastructural analyses demonstrated that this effect was due to virus-induced disintegration of the nuclear envelope, thereby releasing immature and mature capsids into the cytosol for secondary envelopment. Our data indicate that nuclear egress primarily serves to transfer capsids through the intact nuclear envelope. Immature and mature intranuclear capsids are competent for further virion maturation once they reach the cytoplasm. However, nuclear egress exhibits a strong bias for nucleocapsids, thereby also functioning as a quality control checkpoint which is abolished by herpesvirus-induced nuclear envelope breakdown.
PMCID: PMC3147978  PMID: 21680518
14.  Ultrastructural Analysis of Virion Formation and Intraaxonal Transport of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 in Primary Rat Neurons▿  
Journal of Virology  2010;84(24):13031-13035.
After primary replication at the site of entry into the host, alphaherpesviruses infect and establish latency in neurons. To this end, they are transported within axons retrograde from the periphery to the cell body for replication and in an anterograde direction to synapses for infection of higher-order neurons or back to the periphery. Retrograde transport of incoming nucleocapsids is well documented. In contrast, there is still significant controversy on the mode of anterograde transport. By high-resolution transmission electron microscopy of primary neuronal cultures from embryonic rat superior cervical ganglia infected by pseudorabies virus (PrV), we observed the presence of enveloped virions in axons within vesicles supporting the “married model” of anterograde transport of complete virus particles within vesicles (C. Maresch, H. Granzow, A. Negatsch, B.G. Klupp, W. Fuchs, J.P. Teifke, and T.C. Mettenleiter, J. Virol. 84:5528-5539, 2010). We have now extended these analyses to the related human herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1). We have demonstrated that in neurons infected by HSV-1 strains HFEM, 17+ or SC16, approximately 75% of virus particles observed intraaxonally or in growth cones late after infection constitute enveloped virions within vesicles, whereas approximately 25% present as naked capsids. In general, the number of HSV-1 particles in the axons was significantly less than that observed after PrV infection.
PMCID: PMC3004319  PMID: 20943987
15.  Random Transposon-Mediated Mutagenesis of the Essential Large Tegument Protein pUL36 of Pseudorabies Virus▿  
Journal of Virology  2010;84(16):8153-8162.
Homologs of the pseudorabies virus (PrV) essential large tegument protein pUL36 are conserved throughout the Herpesviridae. pUL36 functions during transport of the nucleocapsid to and docking at the nuclear pore as well as during virion formation after nuclear egress in the cytoplasm. Deletion analyses revealed several nonessential regions within the 3,084-amino-acid PrV pUL36 (S. Böttcher, B. G. Klupp, H. Granzow, W. Fuchs, K. Michael, and T. C. Mettenleiter, J. Virol. 80:9910-9915, 2006; S. Böttcher, H. Granzow, C. Maresch, B. Möhl, B. G. Klupp, and T. C. Mettenleiter, J. Virol. 81:13403-13411, 2007), while the C-terminal 62 amino acids are essential for virus replication (K. Coller, J. Lee, A. Ueda, and G. Smith, J. Virol. 81:11790-11797, 2007). To identify additional functional domains, we performed random mutagenesis of PrV pUL36 by transposon-mediated insertion of a 15-bp linker. By this approach, 26 pUL36 insertion mutants were selected and tested in transient transfection assays for their ability to complement one-step growth and/or viral spread of a PrV UL36 null mutant. Ten insertion mutants in the N-terminal half and 10 in the C terminus complemented both, whereas six insertion mutants clustering in the center of the protein did not complement in either assay. Interestingly, several insertions within conserved parts yielded positive complementation, including those located within the essential C-terminal 62 amino acids. For 15 mutants that mediated productive replication, stable virus recombinants were isolated and further characterized by plaque assay, in vitro growth analysis, and electron microscopy. Except for three mutant viruses, most insertion mutants replicated like wild-type PrV. Two insertion mutants, at amino acids (aa) 597 and 689, were impaired in one-step growth and viral spread and exhibited a defect in virion maturation in the cytoplasm. In contrast, one functional insertion (aa 1800) in a region which otherwise yielded only nonfunctional insertion mutants was impaired in viral spread but not in one-step growth without a distinctive ultrastructural phenotype. In summary, these studies extend and refine previous analyses of PrV pUL36 and demonstrate the different sensitivities of different regions of the protein to functional loss by insertion.
PMCID: PMC2916522  PMID: 20534865
16.  Ultrastructural Analysis of Virion Formation and Anterograde Intraaxonal Transport of the Alphaherpesvirus Pseudorabies Virus in Primary Neurons▿  
Journal of Virology  2010;84(11):5528-5539.
A hallmark of alphaherpesviruses is their capacity to be neuroinvasive and establish latent infections in neurons. After primary replication in epithelial cells at the periphery, entry into nerve endings occurs, followed by retrograde transport of nucleocapsids to the nucleus where viral transcription, genome replication, and nucleocapsid formation take place. Translocation of nucleocapsids to the cytoplasm is followed by axonal transport to infect synaptically linked neurons. Two modes of intraaxonal anterograde herpesvirus transport have been proposed: transport of complete, enveloped virions within vesicles (“married model”), and separate transport of capsids and envelopes (“subassembly model”). To assess this in detail for the alphaherpesvirus pseudorabies virus (PrV), we used high-resolution transmission electron microscopy of primary neuronal cultures from embryonic rat superior cervical ganglia after infection with wild-type and gB-deficient PrV. Our data show that intranuclear capsid maturation, nuclear egress and cytoplasmic secondary envelopment occur as in cultured nonpolarized cells (H. Granzow, F. Weiland, A. Jöns, B. G. Klupp, A. Karger, and T. C. Mettenleiter, J. Virol. 71:2072-2082, 1997). PrV virions were present in axons as enveloped particles within vesicles associated with microtubules and apparently leave the neuron by exocytosis primarily at the growth cone. Only a few nonenveloped nucleocapsids were found in the axon. The same picture was observed after infection by phenotypically complemented gB-deficient PrV, which is able to complete only a single round of replication. Our data thus support intraaxonal anterograde transport of enveloped PrV virions within vesicles following the “married model.”
PMCID: PMC2876598  PMID: 20237081
17.  Intergenotypic Replacement of Lyssavirus Matrix Proteins Demonstrates the Role of Lyssavirus M Proteins in Intracellular Virus Accumulation ▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;84(4):1816-1827.
Lyssavirus assembly depends on the matrix protein (M). We compared lyssavirus M proteins from different genotypes for their ability to support assembly and egress of genotype 1 rabies virus (RABV). Transcomplementation of M-deficient RABV with M from European bat lyssavirus (EBLV) types 1 and 2 reduced the release of infectious virus. Stable introduction of the heterogenotypic M proteins into RABV led to chimeric viruses with reduced virus release and intracellular accumulation of virus genomes. Although the chimeras indicated genotype-specific evolution of M, rapid selection of a compensatory mutant suggested conserved mechanisms of lyssavirus assembly and the requirement for only few adaptive mutations to fit the heterogenotypic M to a RABV backbone. Whereas the compensatory mutant replicated to similar infectious titers as RABV M-expressing virus, ultrastructural analysis revealed that both nonadapted EBLV M chimeras and the compensatory mutant differed from RABV M expressing viruses in the lack of intracellular viruslike structures that are enveloped and accumulate in cisterna of the degranulated and dilated rough endoplasmic reticulum compartment. Moreover, all viruses were able to bud at the plasma membrane. Since the lack of the intracellular viruslike structures correlated with the type of M protein but not with the efficiency of virus release, we hypothesize that the M proteins of EBLV-1 and RABV differ in their target membranes for virus assembly. Although the biological function of intracellular assembly and accumulation of viruslike structures in the endoplasmic reticulum remain unclear, the observed differences could contribute to diverse host tropism or pathogenicity.
PMCID: PMC2812392  PMID: 19955305
18.  Intracellular Localization of the Pseudorabies Virus Large Tegument Protein pUL36▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(19):9641-9651.
Homologs of the essential large tegument protein pUL36 of herpes simplex virus 1 are conserved throughout the Herpesviridae, complex with pUL37, and form part of the capsid-associated “inner” tegument. pUL36 is crucial for transport of the incoming capsid to and docking at the nuclear pore early after infection as well as for virion maturation in the cytoplasm. Its extreme C terminus is essential for pUL36 function interacting with pUL25 on nucleocapsids to start tegumentation (K. Coller, J. Lee, A. Ueda, and G. Smith, J. Virol. 81:11790-11797, 2007). However, controversy exists about the cellular compartment in which pUL36 is added to the nascent virus particle. We generated monospecific rabbit antisera against four different regions spanning most of pUL36 of the alphaherpesvirus pseudorabies virus (PrV). By immunofluorescence and immunoelectron microscopy, we then analyzed the intracellular location of pUL36 after transient expression and during PrV infection. While reactivities of all four sera were comparable, none of them showed specific intranuclear staining during PrV infection. In immunoelectron microscopy, neither of the sera stained primary enveloped virions in the perinuclear cleft, whereas extracellular mature virus particles were extensively labeled. However, transient expression of pUL36 alone resulted in partial localization to the nucleus, presumably mediated by nuclear localization signals (NLS) whose functionality was demonstrated by fusion of the putative NLS to green fluorescent protein (GFP) and GFP-tagged pUL25. Since PrV pUL36 can enter the nucleus when expressed in isolation, the NLS may be masked during infection. Thus, our studies show that during PrV infection pUL36 is not detectable in the nucleus or on primary enveloped virions, correlating with the notion that the tegument of mature virus particles, including pUL36, is acquired in the cytosol.
PMCID: PMC2748013  PMID: 19640985
19.  Characterization of Pseudorabies Virus (PrV) Cleavage-Encapsidation Proteins and Functional Complementation of PrV pUL32 by the Homologous Protein of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 ▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(8):3930-3943.
Cleavage and encapsidation of newly replicated herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) DNA requires several essential viral gene products that are conserved in sequence within the Herpesviridae. However, conservation of function has not been analyzed in greater detail. For functional characterization of the UL6, UL15, UL28, UL32, and UL33 gene products of pseudorabies virus (PrV), the respective deletion mutants were generated by mutagenesis of the virus genome cloned as a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) in Escherichia coli and propagated in transgenic rabbit kidney cells lines expressing the deleted genes. Neither of the PrV mutants was able to produce plaques or infectious progeny in noncomplementing cells. DNA analyses revealed that the viral genomes were replicated but not cleaved into monomers. By electron microscopy, only scaffold-containing immature but not DNA-containing mature capsids were detected in the nuclei of noncomplementing cells infected with either of the mutants. Remarkably, primary envelopment of empty capsids at the nuclear membrane occasionally occurred, and enveloped tegument-containing light particles were formed in the cytoplasm and released into the extracellular space. Immunofluorescence analyses with monospecific antisera of cells transfected with the respective expression plasmids indicated that pUL6, pUL15, and pUL32 were able to enter the nucleus. In contrast, pUL28 and pUL33 were predominantly found in the cytoplasm. Only pUL6 could be unequivocally identified and localized in PrV-infected cells and in purified virions, whereas the low abundance or immunogenicity of the other proteins hampered similar studies. Yeast two-hybrid analyses revealed physical interactions between the PrV pUL15, pUL28, and pUL33 proteins, indicating that, as in HSV-1, a tripartite protein complex might catalyze cleavage and encapsidation of viral DNA. Whereas the pUL6 protein is supposed to form the portal for DNA entry into the capsid, the precise role of the UL32 gene product during this process remains to be elucidated. Interestingly, the defect of UL32-negative PrV could be completely corrected in trans by the homologous protein of HSV-1, demonstrating similar functions. However, trans-complementation of UL32-negative HSV-1 by the PrV protein was not observed.
PMCID: PMC2663260  PMID: 19193798
20.  Effects of Simultaneous Deletion of pUL11 and Glycoprotein M on Virion Maturation of Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1▿  
Journal of Virology  2008;83(2):896-907.
The conserved membrane-associated tegument protein pUL11 and envelope glycoprotein M (gM) are involved in secondary envelopment of herpesvirus nucleocapsids in the cytoplasm. Although deletion of either gene had only moderate effects on replication of the related alphaherpesviruses herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) and pseudorabies virus (PrV) in cell culture, simultaneous deletion of both genes resulted in a severe impairment in virion morphogenesis of PrV coinciding with the formation of huge inclusions in the cytoplasm containing nucleocapsids embedded in tegument (M. Kopp, H. Granzow, W. Fuchs, B. G. Klupp, and T. C. Mettenleiter, J. Virol. 78:3024-3034, 2004). To test whether a similar phenotype occurs in HSV-1, a gM and pUL11 double deletion mutant was generated based on a newly established bacterial artificial chromosome clone of HSV-1 strain KOS. Since gM-negative HSV-1 has not been thoroughly investigated ultrastructurally and different phenotypes have been ascribed to pUL11-negative HSV-1, single gene deletion mutants were also constructed and analyzed. On monkey kidney (Vero) cells, deletion of either pUL11 or gM resulted in ca.-fivefold-reduced titers and 40- to 50%-reduced plaque diameters compared to those of wild-type HSV-1 KOS, while on rabbit kidney (RK13) cells the defects were more pronounced, resulting in ca.-50-fold titer and 70% plaque size reduction for either mutant. Electron microscopy revealed that in the absence of either pUL11 or gM virion formation in the cytoplasm was inhibited, whereas nuclear stages were not visibly affected, which is in line with the phenotypes of corresponding PrV mutants. Simultaneous deletion of pUL11 and gM led to additive growth defects and, in RK13 cells, to the formation of large intracytoplasmic inclusions of capsids and tegument material, comparable to those in PrV-ΔUL11/gM-infected RK13 cells. The defects of HSV-1ΔUL11 and HSV-1ΔUL11/gM could be partially corrected in trans by pUL11 of PrV. Thus, our data indicate that PrV and HSV-1 pUL11 and gM exhibit similar functions in cytoplasmic steps of virion assembly.
PMCID: PMC2612385  PMID: 19004941
21.  Glycoproteins Required for Entry Are Not Necessary for Egress of Pseudorabies Virus▿  
Journal of Virology  2008;82(13):6299-6309.
In the current perception of the herpesvirus replication cycle, two fusion processes are thought to occur during entry and nuclear egress. For penetration, glycoproteins gB and gH/gL have been shown to be essential, whereas a possible role of these glycoproteins in nuclear egress remains unclear. Viral envelope glycoproteins have been detected by immunolabeling in the nuclear membrane as well as in primary enveloped particles in several herpesviruses, indicating that they might be involved in the fusion process. Moreover, a herpes simplex virus type 1 mutant simultaneously lacking gB and gH was described to be deficient in nuclear egress (A. Farnsworth, T. W. Wisner, M. Webb, R. Roller, G. Cohen, R. Eisenberg, and D. C. Johnson, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 104:10187-10192, 2007). To analyze the situation in the related alphaherpesvirus pseudorabies virus (PrV), mutants carrying single and double deletions of glycoproteins gB, gD, gH, and gL were constructed and characterized. We show here that the simultaneous deletion of gB and gD, gB and gH, gD and gH, or gH and gL has no detectable effect on PrV egress, implying that none of these glycoproteins either singly or in the tested combinations is required for nuclear egress. In addition, immunolabeling studies using different mono- or polyclonal sera raised against various PrV glycoproteins did not reveal the presence of viral glycoproteins in the inner nuclear membrane or in primary virions. Thus, our data strongly suggest that different fusion mechanisms are active during virus entry and egress.
PMCID: PMC2447092  PMID: 18417564
22.  Mutagenesis of the Active-Site Cysteine in the Ubiquitin-Specific Protease Contained in Large Tegument Protein pUL36 of Pseudorabies Virus Impairs Viral Replication In Vitro and Neuroinvasion In Vivo ▿  
Journal of Virology  2008;82(12):6009-6016.
Herpesviruses specify a ubiquitin-specific protease activity located within their largest tegument protein. Although its biological role is still largely unclear, mutation within the active site abolished deubiquitinating (DUB) activity and decreased virus replication in vitro and in vivo. To further elucidate the role of DUB activity for herpesvirus replication, the conserved active-site cysteine at amino acid position 26 within pUL36 of Pseudorabies virus (PrV) (Suid herpesvirus 1), a neurotropic alphaherpesvirus, was mutated to serine. Whereas one-step growth kinetics of the resulting mutant virus PrV-UL36(C26S) were moderately reduced, plaque size was decreased to 62% of that of the wild-type virus. Ultrastructural analysis revealed large accumulations of unenveloped nucleocapsids in the cytoplasm, but incorporation of the tegument protein pUL37 was not abolished. After intranasal infection with PrV-UL36(C26S) mice showed survival times two times longer than those of mice infected with wild-type or rescued virus. Thus, the DUB activity is important for PrV replication in vitro and for neuroinvasion in mice.
PMCID: PMC2395145  PMID: 18400848
23.  Partial Functional Complementation of a Pseudorabies Virus UL25 Deletion Mutant by Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 pUL25 Indicates Overlapping Functions of Alphaherpesvirus pUL25 Proteins▿  
Journal of Virology  2008;82(12):5725-5734.
Homologs of the UL25 gene product of herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) are highly conserved among the Herpesviridae. However, their exact function during viral replication is unknown. Current evidence suggests that in the alphaherpesvirus pseudorabies virus (PrV) the capsid-associated pUL25 plays a role in primary envelopment of DNA-containing mature capsids at the inner nuclear membrane. In the absence of pUL25, capsids were found in close association with the inner nuclear membrane, but nuclear egress was not observed (B. G. Klupp, H. Granzow, G. M. Keil, and T. C. Mettenleiter, J. Virol. 80:6235-6246, 2006). In contrast, HSV-1 pUL25 has been assigned a role in stable packaging of viral genomes (N. Stow, J. Virol. 75:10755-10765, 2001). Despite these apparently divergent functions, we wanted to assess whether the high sequence homology translates into functional homology. Therefore, we first analyzed a newly constructed HSV-1 UL25 deletion mutant in our assay system and observed a similar phenotype as in PrV. In the nuclei of infected cells, numerous electron-dense C capsids were detected, whereas primary envelopment of these capsids did not ensue. In agreement with results from PrV, vesicles were observed in the perinuclear space. Since these data indicated functional homology, we analyzed the ability of pUL25 of HSV-1 to complement a PrV UL25 deletion mutant and vice versa. Whereas a HSV-1 pUL25-expressing cell line partially complemented the pUL25 defect in PrV, reciprocal complementation of a HSV-1 UL25 deletion mutant by PrV pUL25 was not observed. Thus, our data demonstrate overlapping, although not identical functions of these two conserved herpesvirus proteins, and point to a conserved functional role in herpes virion formation.
PMCID: PMC2395125  PMID: 18400859
24.  Identification of Functional Domains within the Essential Large Tegument Protein pUL36 of Pseudorabies Virus▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;81(24):13403-13411.
Proteins of the capsid proximal tegument are involved in the transport of incoming capsids to the nucleus and secondary envelopment after nuclear egress. Homologs of the essential large capsid proximal tegument protein pUL36 are conserved within the Herpesviridae. They interact with another tegument component, pUL37, and contain a deubiquitinating activity in their N termini which, however, is not essential for virus replication. Whereas an internal deletion of 709 amino acids (aa) within the C-terminal half of the alphaherpesvirus pseudorabies virus (PrV) pUL36 does not impair its function (S. Böttcher, B. G. Klupp, H. Granzow, W. Fuchs, K. Michael, and T. C. Mettenleiter, J. Virol. 80:9910-9915, 2006), deletion of the very C terminus does (J. Lee, G. Luxton, and G. A. Smith, J. Virol. 80:12086-12094, 2006). For further characterization we deleted several predicted functional and structural motifs within PrV pUL36 and analyzed the resulting phenotypes in cell culture and a mouse infection model. Extension of the internal deletion to encompass aa 2087 to 2981 exerted only minor effects on virus replication but resulted in prolonged mean survival times of infected mice. Any additional extension did not yield viable virus. Deletion of an N-terminal region containing the deubiquitinating activity (aa 22 to 248) only slightly impaired viral replication in cell culture but slowed neuroinvasion in our mouse model, whereas a strong impairment of viral replication was observed after simultaneous removal of both nonessential domains. Absence of a region containing two predicted leucine zipper motifs (aa 748 to 991) also strongly impaired virus replication and spread. Thus, we identify several domains within the PrV UL36 protein, which, though not essential, are nevertheless important for virus replication.
PMCID: PMC2168856  PMID: 17928337
25.  Relevance of the Interaction between Alphaherpesvirus UL3.5 and UL48 Proteins for Virion Maturation and Neuroinvasion▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;81(17):9307-9318.
The UL3.5 and UL48 genes, which are conserved in most alphaherpesvirus genomes, are important for maturation of pseudorabies virus (PrV) particles in the cytoplasm of infected cells (W. Fuchs, B. G. Klupp, H. J. Rziha, and T. C. Mettenleiter, J. Virol. 70:3517-3527, 1996; W. Fuchs, H. Granzow, B. G. Klupp, M. Kopp and T. C. Mettenleiter, J. Virol. 76:6729-6742, 2002). In bovine herpesvirus 1 (BoHV-1), the homologous gene products pUL3.5 and pUL48 have been demonstrated to interact physically (N. Lam and G. Letchworth, J. Virol. 74:2876-2884, 2000). Moreover, BoHV-1 pUL3.5 partially complemented a pUL3.5 defect in PrV (W. Fuchs, H. Granzow, and T. C. Mettenleiter, J. Virol. 71:8886-8892, 1997). By using coimmunoprecipitation and yeast two-hybrid studies, we observed a similar interaction between pUL3.5 and pUL48 of PrV, as well as a heterologous interaction between the PrV and BoHV-1 gene products. The relevant domain could be confined to the first 43 amino acids of PrV pUL3.5. Unlike its BoHV-1 homologue, PrV pUL3.5 is processed by proteolytic cleavage, and only an abundant 14-kDa fragment consisting of amino acids 1 to ≥116 could be detected by peptide mass fingerprint analysis of purified wild-type PrV particles, which also contain the pUL48 tegument component. To determine the biological relevance of the protein-protein interaction, pUL3.5-, pUL48-, and double-negative PrV mutants were analyzed in parallel. All deletion mutants were replication competent but exhibited significantly reduced plaque sizes and virus titers in cultured rabbit kidney cells compared to wild-type and rescued viruses, which correlated with a delayed neuroinvasion in intranasally infected mice. Remarkably, the defects of the double-negative mutant were similar to those of pUL48-negative virus. Electron microscopy of cells infected with either deletion mutant revealed the retention of naked nucleocapsids in the cytoplasm and the absence of mature virus particles. In summary, our studies for the first time demonstrate the relevance of the pUL3.5-pUL48 interaction for secondary envelopment of an alphaherpesvirus, give a molecular basis for the observed trans-complementation between the PrV and BHV-1 pUL3.5 homologs, yield conclusive evidence for the incorporation of a proteolytically processed pUL3.5 into PrV virions, and demonstrate the importance of both proteins for neuroinvasion and neurovirulence of PrV.
PMCID: PMC1951408  PMID: 17581981

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