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1.  Structural determinants of human APOBEC3A enzymatic and nucleic acid binding properties 
Nucleic Acids Research  2013;42(2):1095-1110.
Human APOBEC3A (A3A) is a single-domain cytidine deaminase that converts deoxycytidine residues to deoxyuridine in single-stranded DNA (ssDNA). It inhibits a wide range of viruses and endogenous retroelements such as LINE-1, but it can also edit genomic DNA, which may play a role in carcinogenesis. Here, we extend our recent findings on the NMR structure of A3A and report structural, biochemical and cell-based mutagenesis studies to further characterize A3A’s deaminase and nucleic acid binding activities. We find that A3A binds ssRNA, but the RNA and DNA binding interfaces differ and no deamination of ssRNA is detected. Surprisingly, with only one exception (G105A), alanine substitution mutants with changes in residues affected by specific ssDNA binding retain deaminase activity. Furthermore, A3A binds and deaminates ssDNA in a length-dependent manner. Using catalytically active and inactive A3A mutants, we show that the determinants of A3A deaminase activity and anti-LINE-1 activity are not the same. Finally, we demonstrate A3A’s potential to mutate genomic DNA during transient strand separation and show that this process could be counteracted by ssDNA binding proteins. Taken together, our studies provide new insights into the molecular properties of A3A and its role in multiple cellular and antiviral functions.
PMCID: PMC3902935  PMID: 24163103
2.  A reporter system for replication-competent gammaretroviruses: the inGluc-MLV-DERSE assay 
Gene therapy  2012;20(2):169-176.
While novel retroviral vectors for use in gene-therapy products are reducing the potential for formation of replication-competent retrovirus (RCR), it remains crucial to screen products for RCR for both research and clinical purposes. For clinical grade gammaretrovirus-based vectors, RCR screening is achieved by an extended S+L− or marker rescue assay, while standard methods for replication-competent lentivirus detection are still in development. In this report, we describe a rapid and sensitive method for replication-competent gammaretrovirus detection. We used this assay to detect three members of the gammaretrovirus family and compared the sensitivity of our assay with well-established methods for retrovirus detection, including the extended S+L− assay. Results presented here demonstrate that this assay should be useful for gene-therapy product testing.
PMCID: PMC3374051  PMID: 22402321
replication-competent gammaretrovirus; gene therapy vectors; infectivity assay
3.  Cell-to-Cell Transmission Can Overcome Multiple Donor and Target Cell Barriers Imposed on Cell-Free HIV 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53138.
Virus transmission can occur either by a cell-free mode through the extracellular space or by cell-to-cell transmission involving direct cell-to-cell contact. The factors that determine whether a virus spreads by either pathway are poorly understood. Here, we assessed the relative contribution of cell-free and cell-to-cell transmission to the spreading of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). We demonstrate that HIV can spread by a cell-free pathway if all the steps of the viral replication cycle are efficiently supported in highly permissive cells. However, when the cell-free path was systematically hindered at various steps, HIV transmission became contact-dependent. Cell-to-cell transmission overcame barriers introduced in the donor cell at the level of gene expression and surface retention by the restriction factor tetherin. Moreover, neutralizing antibodies that efficiently inhibit cell-free HIV were less effective against cell-to-cell transmitted virus. HIV cell-to-cell transmission also efficiently infected target T cells that were relatively poorly susceptible to cell-free HIV. Importantly, we demonstrate that the donor and target cell types influence critically the extent by which cell-to-cell transmission can overcome each barrier. Mechanistically, cell-to-cell transmission promoted HIV spread to more cells and infected target cells with a higher proviral content than observed for cell-free virus. Our data demonstrate that the frequently observed contact-dependent spread of HIV is the result of specific features in donor and target cell types, thus offering an explanation for conflicting reports on the extent of cell-to-cell transmission of HIV.
PMCID: PMC3538641  PMID: 23308151
4.  Role of O-Glycosylation and Expression of CD43 and CD45 on the Surfaces of Effector T Cells in Human T Cell Leukemia Virus Type 1 Cell-to-Cell Infection 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(5):2447-2458.
We used replication-dependent retroviral vectors to identify cell surface antigens involved in the cell-to-cell transmission of human T cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1). We generated monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) against Jurkat T cells and selected several IgM MAbs that strongly inhibited HTLV-1 but not human immune deficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) cell-to-cell infection. These MAbs recognized the so-called Tn antigen (GalNAcα1-O-Ser/Thr) that arises on Jurkat cells from a mutation in the T-synthase-specific chaperone Cosmc and the consequent loss of O-glycan elongation. Anti-Tn MAbs precipitated two major O-glycan carrier proteins, CD43 and CD45, and caused a strong aggregation of Jurkat cells. The restoration of O-glycosylation in Jurkat cells by stably transducing the wild-type Cosmc gene resulted in a 3- to 4-fold increase in the level of surface expression of CD43 and enhanced HTLV-1 transmission 10-fold in comparison to that of parental cells. The short hairpin RNA (shRNA) knockdown of CD43 or CD45 expression in Jurkat-Cosmc, HBP-ALL, and CEM T cells decreased HTLV-1 infection severalfold. The knockdown of CD45 in Jurkat cells severely reduced both HTLV-1 and HIV-1 infections, but Cosmc coexpression partially rescued infection. HTLV-1 proteins, which assembled in small patches on Jurkat cells, formed large clusters on the surface of Jurkat-Cosmc cells. These data indicate that large aggregates of HTLV-1 assemblies are more infectious than multiple clustered virions. We suggest that heavily O-glycosylated CD43 and CD45 molecules render cells less adhesive, prevent inappropriate cell-cell contacts, and favor the assembly of HTLV-1 particles into large, highly infectious structures on the surface of T cells.
PMCID: PMC3302266  PMID: 22171268
5.  The Role of Amino-Terminal Sequences in Cellular Localization and Antiviral Activity of APOBEC3B▿ 
Journal of Virology  2011;85(17):8538-8547.
Human APOBEC3B (A3B) has been described as a potent inhibitor of retroviral infection and retrotransposition. However, we found that the predominantly nuclear A3B only weakly restricted infection by HIV-1, HIV-1Δvif, and human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1), while significantly inhibiting LINE-1 retrotransposition. The chimeric construct A3G/B, in which the first 60 amino acids of A3B were replaced with those of A3G, restricted HIV-1, HIV-1Δvif, and HTLV-1 infection, as well as LINE-1 retrotransposition. In contrast to the exclusively cytoplasmic A3G, which is inactive against LINE-1 retrotransposition, the A3G/B protein, while localized mainly to the cytoplasm, was also present in the nucleus. Further mutational analysis revealed that residues 18, 19, 22, and 24 in A3B were the major determinants for nuclear versus cytoplasmic localization and antiretroviral activity. HIV-1Δvif packages A3G, A3B, and A3G/B into particles with close-to-equal efficiencies. Mutation E68Q or E255Q in the active centers of A3G/B resulted in loss of the inhibitory activity against HIV-1Δvif, while not affecting activity against LINE-1 retrotransposition. The low inhibition of HIV-1Δvif by A3B correlated with a low rate of G-to-A hypermutation. In contrast, viruses that had been exposed to A3G/B showed a high number of G-to-A transitions. The mutation pattern was similar to that previously reported for A3B, with a preference for the GA context. In summary, these observations suggest that changing 4 residues in the amino terminus of A3B not only retargets the protein from the nucleus to the cytoplasm but also enhances its ability to restrict HIV while retaining inhibition of retrotransposition.
PMCID: PMC3165795  PMID: 21715505
6.  Association of Src-Related Kinase Lyn with the Interleukin-2 Receptor and Its Role in Maintaining Constitutive Phosphorylation of JAK/STAT in Human T-Cell Leukemia Virus Type 1-Transformed T Cells▿ 
Journal of Virology  2011;85(9):4623-4627.
Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) infection and transformation are associated with an incremental switch in the expression of the Src-related protein tyrosine kinases Lck and Lyn. We examined the physical and functional interactions of Lyn with receptors and signal transduction proteins in HTLV-1-infected T cells. Lyn coimmunoprecipitates with the interleukin-2 beta receptor (IL-2Rβ) and JAK3 proteins; however, the association of Lyn with the IL-2Rβ and Lyn kinase activity was independent of IL-2 stimulation. Phosphorylation of Janus kinase 3 (JAK3) and signal transducers and activator of transcription 5 (STAT5) proteins was reduced by treatment of cells with the Src kinase inhibitor PP2 or by ectopic expression of a dominant negative Lyn kinase protein.
PMCID: PMC3126234  PMID: 21345943
7.  Opposing Effects of a Tyrosine-Based Sorting Motif and a PDZ-Binding Motif Regulate Human T-Lymphotropic Virus Type 1 Envelope Trafficking▿  
Journal of Virology  2010;84(14):6995-7004.
Human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) envelope (Env) glycoprotein mediates binding of the virus to its receptor on the surface of target cells and subsequent fusion of virus and cell membranes. To better understand the mechanisms that control HTLV-1 Env trafficking and activity, we have examined two protein-protein interaction motifs in the cytoplasmic domain of Env. One is the sequence YSLI, which matches the consensus YXXΦ motifs that are known to interact with various adaptor protein complexes; the other is the sequence ESSL at the C terminus of Env, which matches the consensus PDZ-binding motif. We show here that mutations that destroy the YXXΦ motif increased Env expression on the cell surface and increased cell-cell fusion activity. In contrast, mutation of the PDZ-binding motif greatly diminished Env expression in cells, which could be restored to wild-type levels either by mutating the YXXΦ motif or by silencing AP2 and AP3, suggesting that interactions with PDZ proteins oppose an Env degradation pathway mediated by AP2 and AP3. Silencing of the PDZ protein hDlg1 did not affect Env expression, suggesting that hDlg1 is not a binding partner for Env. Substitution of the YSLI sequence in HTLV-1 Env with YXXΦ elements from other cell or virus membrane-spanning proteins resulted in alterations in Env accumulation in cells, incorporation into virions, and virion infectivity. Env variants containing YXXΦ motifs that are predicted to have high-affinity interaction with AP2 accumulated to lower steady-state levels. Interestingly, mutations that destroy the YXXΦ motif resulted in viruses that were not infectious by cell-free or cell-associated routes of infection. Unlike YXXΦ, the function of the PDZ-binding motif manifests itself only in the producer cells; AP2 silencing restored the incorporation of PDZ-deficient Env into virus-like particles (VLPs) and the infectivity of these VLPs to wild-type levels.
PMCID: PMC2898256  PMID: 20463077
8.  Quantitative Comparison of HTLV-1 and HIV-1 Cell-to-Cell Infection with New Replication Dependent Vectors 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(2):e1000788.
We have developed an efficient method to quantify cell-to-cell infection with single-cycle, replication dependent reporter vectors. This system was used to examine the mechanisms of infection with HTLV-1 and HIV-1 vectors in lymphocyte cell lines. Effector cells transfected with reporter vector, packaging vector, and Env expression plasmid produced virus-like particles that transduced reporter gene activity into cocultured target cells with zero background. Reporter gene expression was detected exclusively in target cells and required an Env-expression plasmid and a viral packaging vector, which provided essential structural and enzymatic proteins for virus replication. Cell-cell fusion did not contribute to infection, as reporter protein was rarely detected in syncytia. Coculture of transfected Jurkat T cells and target Raji/CD4 B cells enhanced HIV-1 infection two fold and HTLV-1 infection ten thousand fold in comparison with cell-free infection of Raji/CD4 cells. Agents that interfere with actin and tubulin polymerization strongly inhibited HTLV-1 and modestly decreased HIV-1 cell-to-cell infection, an indication that cytoskeletal remodeling was more important for HTLV-1 transmission. Time course studies showed that HTLV-1 transmission occurred very rapidly after cell mixing, whereas slower kinetics of HIV-1 coculture infection implies a different mechanism of infectious transmission. HTLV-1 Tax was demonstrated to play an important role in altering cell-cell interactions that enhance virus infection and replication. Interestingly, superantigen-induced synapses between Jurkat cells and Raji/CD4 cells did not enhance infection for either HTLV-1 or HIV-1. In general, the dependence on cell-to-cell infection was determined by the virus, the effector and target cell types, and by the nature of the cell-cell interaction.
Author Summary
Cell-free virus particles released from infected cells can be transmitted to target cells by diffusion or may be conveyed directly to target cells via specific intercellular contacts; the latter is referred to as cell-to-cell infection. Microscopic imaging has shown how viral proteins and virus particles move within and between cells, accumulating at sites of cell-cell contact. While we suspect that these images represent virus infection, it has been difficult to accurately quantify virus replication and provirus formation in most cell-to-cell infection experiments. Retroviral vectors that encode reporter proteins have been invaluable tools for analyzing retrovirus replication and restriction, but they have had limited utility in cell-to-cell infection studies due to high background noise resulting from reporter expression in the producer cells. We report the construction and characterization of retroviral vectors that express reporter protein exclusively in target cells and only after completing a full replication cycle. We have validated this approach and have begun to analyze cell and virus determinants for cell-to-cell infection with vectors for two human retroviruses that infect T cells. We show that the mechanism of transmission and ensuing virus replication depend on the particular virus, the effector and target cell types, and on the specific type of cell-cell interaction.
PMCID: PMC2829072  PMID: 20195464
9.  Assembly of the Murine Leukemia Virus Is Directed towards Sites of Cell–Cell Contact 
PLoS Biology  2009;7(7):e1000163.
Applying 4D imaging, this study investigates the mechanism by which cell-cell contact enhances retrovirus spreading and demonstrates that viral budding is highly polarized towards sites of cell-cell contact.
We have investigated the underlying mechanism by which direct cell–cell contact enhances the efficiency of cell-to-cell transmission of retroviruses. Applying 4D imaging to a model retrovirus, the murine leukemia virus, we directly monitor and quantify sequential assembly, release, and transmission events for individual viral particles as they happen in living cells. We demonstrate that de novo assembly is highly polarized towards zones of cell–cell contact. Viruses assembled approximately 10-fold more frequently at zones of cell contact with no change in assembly kinetics. Gag proteins were drawn to adhesive zones formed by viral Env glycoprotein and its cognate receptor to promote virus assembly at cell–cell contact. This process was dependent on the cytoplasmic tail of viral Env. Env lacking the cytoplasmic tail while still allowing for contact formation, failed to direct virus assembly towards contact sites. Our data describe a novel role for the viral Env glycoprotein in establishing cell–cell adhesion and polarization of assembly prior to becoming a fusion protein to allow virus entry into cells.
Author Summary
Retroviruses such as the human immunodeficiency virus are known to spread much more efficiently under conditions of direct cell–cell contact as compared to cell-free conditions. How cell–cell contact stimulates virus spreading is poorly understood. In this study, we apply four-dimensional imaging (3D space over time) of a model retrovirus to directly monitor and quantify the events of assembly, release, and transmission of individual viral particles in real time in living cells. Our work reveals that after contacts are established between virus-producing cells and uninfected target cells, the majority of virus particle assembly is initiated at sites of cell–cell contact. The ability of the virus to direct assembly of its particles towards sites of cell–cell contact is dependent on the presence of the cytoplasmic tail of the viral envelope glycoprotein. When this cytoplasmic tail was deleted, virus assembly at cell–cell contacts was no longer enhanced. This study contributes to an emerging model in which several steps of the viral life cycle are efficiently coordinated at sites of cell–cell contact, thereby promoting the spreading of viral infection to neighboring cells.
PMCID: PMC2709449  PMID: 19636361
10.  The Role of WWP1-Gag Interaction and Gag Ubiquitination in Assembly and Release of Human T-Cell Leukemia Virus Type 1▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;81(18):9769-9777.
The PPPY motif in the matrix (MA) domain of human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) Gag associates with WWP1, a member of the HECT domain containing family of E3 ubiquitin ligases. Mutation of the PPPY motif arrests particle assembly at an early stage and abolishes ubiquitination of MA. Similar effects are seen when Gag is expressed in the presence of a truncated form of WWP1 that lacks the catalytically active HECT domain (C2WW). To understand the role of ubiquitination in budding, we mutated the four lysines in MA to arginines and identified lysine 74 as the unique site of ubiquitination. Virus-like particles produced by the K74R mutant did not contain ubiquitinated MA and showed a fourfold reduction in the release of infectious particles. Furthermore, the K74R mutation rendered assembly hypersensitive to C2WW inhibition; K74R Gag budding was inhibited at significantly lower levels of expression of C2WW compared with wild-type Gag. This finding indicates that the interaction between Gag and WWP1 is required for functions other than Gag ubiquitination. Additionally, we show that the PPPY− mutant Gag exerts a strong dominant-negative effect on the budding of wild-type Gag, further supporting the importance of recruitment of WWP1 to achieve particle assembly.
PMCID: PMC2045422  PMID: 17609263
11.  Late Assembly Motifs of Human T-Cell Leukemia Virus Type 1 and Their Relative Roles in Particle Release 
Journal of Virology  2004;78(12):6636-6648.
Three late assembly domain consensus motifs, namely PTAP, PPPY, and LYPXL, have been identified in different retroviruses. They have been shown to interact with the cellular proteins TSG101, Nedd4, and AP2 or AIP, respectively. Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) has a PPPY and a PTAP motif, separated by two amino acids, located at the end of MA, but only the PPPY motif is conserved in the deltaretrovirus group. Like other retroviral peptides carrying the late motif, MA is mono- or di-ubiquitinated. A mutational analysis showed that 90% of PPPY mutant particles were retained in the cell compared to 15% for the wild-type virus. Mutations of the PTAP motif resulted in a 20% decrease in particle release. In single-cycle infectivity assays, the infectious titers of late motif mutants correlated with the amounts of released virus, as determined by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. We observed binding of MA to the WW domains of the Nedd4 family member WWP1 but not to the amino-terminal ubiquitin E2 variant domain of TSG101 in mammalian two-hybrid analyses. The binding to WWP1 was eliminated when the PPPY motif was mutated. However, MA showed binding to TSG101 in the yeast two-hybrid system that was dependent on an intact PTAP motif. A dominant-negative (DN) mutant of WWP1 could inhibit budding of the intact HTLV-1 virus. In contrast, DN TSG101 only affected the release of virus-like particles encoded by Gag expression plasmids. Electron and fluorescent microscopy showed that Gag accumulates in large patches in the membranes of cells expressing viruses with PPPY mutations. Very few tethered immature particles could be detected in these samples, suggesting that budding is impaired at an earlier step than in other retroviruses.
PMCID: PMC416494  PMID: 15163754
12.  A Novel Protease Processing Site in the Transframe Protein of Human T-Cell Leukemia Virus Type 1 PR76gag-pro Defines the N Terminus of RT 
Journal of Virology  2002;76(24):13101-13105.
The genomic RNA of human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 encodes three polyproteins, Gag, Gag-Pro, and Gag-Pro-Pol, which are translated as a result of no, one, and two frameshifts, respectively. In this report we demonstrate that the 77 residues encoded at the C terminus of the Gag-Pro precursor can be collectively detected as an 8-kDa transframe protein (TFP) in virions. Mutant viruses with a C-terminally truncated TFP (19, 32, or 50 residues) had essentially a wild-type phenotype in vitro. However, a virus mutant that encoded only the Gag and Gag-Pro-Pol polyproteins due to a mutation in the second frameshift site, and hence did not produce TFP, was noninfectious. Mutation analysis of the proteolytic cleavage site between PR and TFP revealed the presence of an additional site and the existence of a p1 peptide separating protease and TFP. While removal of the cleavage site at the PR-p1 junction had a modest effect on virus replication, mutation of the p1-TFP cleavage site led to noninfectious virus and the loss of reverse transcriptase activity. Determination of the amino-terminal sequence of a hemagglutinin-tagged RT demonstrated that the same site is used in processing the Gag-Pro-Pol precursor and thus defines the start of mature RT. Neither mutation alone or in combination caused changes in the amounts or processing patterns of the Gag polyprotein, indicating that protease is active independent of its C terminus.
PMCID: PMC136720  PMID: 12438640

Results 1-12 (12)