The nuclear egress complex (NEC) is required for efficient translocation of newly synthesized herpesvirus nucleocapsids from the nucleus to the cytosol. It consists of the type II membrane protein pUL34 which interacts with pUL31 at the inner nuclear membrane (INM). To map regions within pUL34 required for nuclear membrane targeting and pUL31 interaction, we constructed deletion/substitution mutations. Previously, we showed that 50 C-terminal amino acids (aa) of pseudorabies virus (PrV) pUL34, including the transmembrane domain, could be functionally replaced by cellular lamina-associated polypeptide 2β (Lap2β) sequences. In contrast, replacement of the C-terminal 100 aa abrogated complementation but not pUL31 interaction. To further delineate essential sequences within this region, C-terminal pUL34 truncations of 60, 70, 80, 85, and 90 aa fused to Lap2β sequences were generated. While truncations up to 85 aa were functional, deletion of the C-terminal 90 aa abrogated function, which indicates that the important region is located between aa 171 and 176. Amino acids 173 to 175 represent RQR, a motif suggested to mediate INM targeting. Mutagenesis to RQG revealed that the mutant protein exhibited pronounced Golgi localization, but a fraction still reached the INM. Deletion mutations in the N-terminal domain of pUL34 demonstrated that absence of the first 4 aa was tolerated, while removal of 9 or more residues resulted in a nonfunctional protein. In addition, mutation of three conserved cysteines did not abrogate pUL34 function, whereas alteration of a conserved glutamine/tyrosine sequence yielded a nonfunctional protein.
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.
Despite perceived challenges to controlling an infectious disease in wildlife, oral rabies vaccination (ORV) of foxes has proved a remarkably successful tool and a prime example of a sophisticated strategy to eliminate disease from wildlife reservoirs. During the past three decades, the implementation of ORV programmes in 24 countries has led to the elimination of fox-mediated rabies from vast areas of Western and Central Europe. In this study, we evaluated the efficiency of 22 European ORV programmes between 1978 and 2010. During this period an area of almost 1.9 million km² was targeted at least once with vaccine baits, with control taking between 5 and 26 years depending upon the country. We examined factors influencing effort required both to control and eliminate fox rabies as well as cost-related issues of these programmes. The proportion of land area ever affected by rabies and an index capturing the size and overlap of successive ORV campaigns were identified as factors having statistically significant effects on the number of campaigns required to both control and eliminate rabies. Repeat comprehensive campaigns that are wholly overlapping much more rapidly eliminate infection and are less costly in the long term. Disproportionally greater effort is required in the final phase of an ORV programme, with a median of 11 additional campaigns required to eliminate disease once incidence has been reduced by 90 per cent. If successive ORV campaigns span the entire affected area, rabies will be eliminated more rapidly than if campaigns are implemented in a less comprehensive manner, therefore reducing ORV expenditure in the longer term. These findings should help improve the planning and implementation of ORV programmes, and facilitate future decision-making by veterinary authorities and policy-makers.
fox rabies; oral rabies vaccination; elimination; influencing factors; efforts/expenses; endgame
Glycoprotein H (gH) is an envelope protein conserved in the Herpesviridae. Together with glycoprotein B (gB), the heterodimeric complex of gH and glycoprotein L (gL) mediates penetration and direct viral cell-to-cell spread. In herpes simplex and pseudorabies virus (PrV), coexpression of gH/gL, gB, and gD induces membrane fusion to form polykaryocytes. The recently determined crystal structure of a core fragment of PrV gH revealed marked structural similarity to other gH proteins (M. Backovic et al., Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 107:22635–22640, 2010). Within the membrane-proximal part (domain IV), a conserved negatively charged surface loop (flap) is flanked by intramolecular disulfide bonds. Together with an N-linked carbohydrate moiety, this flap covers an underlying patch of hydrophobic residues. To investigate the functional relevance of these structures, nonconservative amino acid substitutions were introduced by site-directed mutagenesis. The mutated proteins were tested for correct expression, fusion activity, and functional complementation of gH-deleted PrV. Several single amino acid changes within the flap and the hydrophobic patch were tolerated, and deletion of the glycosylation site had only minor effects. However, multiple alanine substitutions within the flap or the hydrophobic patch led to significant defects. gH function was also severely affected by disruption of the disulfide bond at the C terminus of the flap and after introduction of cysteine pairs designed to bridge the central part of the flap with the hydrophobic patch. Interestingly, all mutated gH proteins were able to complement gH-deleted PrV, but fusion-deficient gH mutants resulted in a pronounced delay in virus entry.
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.
Schmallenberg virus; reemergence; Germany; viruses
Autophagy has been established as a player in host defense against viruses. The mechanisms by which the host induces autophagy during infection are diverse. In the case of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1), dsRNA dependent protein kinase (PKR) is essential for induction of autophagy in fibroblasts through phosphorylation of eukaryotic initiation factor 2α (eIF2α). HSV-1 counteracts autophagy via ICP34.5, which dephosphorylates eIF2α and inhibits Beclin 1. Investigation of autophagy during HSV-1 infection has largely been conducted in permissive cells, but recent work suggests the existence of an eIF2α-independent autophagy-inducing pathway in non-permissive cells. To clarify and further characterize the existence of a novel autophagy-inducing pathway in non-permissive cells, we examined different HSV and cellular components in murine myeloid cells for their role in autophagy. We demonstrate that HSV-1-induced autophagy does not correlate with phosphorylation of eIF2α, is independent of functional PKR, and is not antagonized by ICP34.5. Autophagy was activated independent of viral gene expression but required viral entry. Importantly, we found that the presence of genomic DNA in the virion was essential for induction of autophagy and, conversely, that transfection of HSV-derived DNA induced LC3 II formation, a marker of autophagy. This occurred through a mechanism dependent on STING, an essential component for the IFN response to intracellular DNA. Finally we observed that HSV-1 DNA was present in the cytosol devoid of capsid material following HSV-1 infection of DCs. Thus, our data suggest that HSV-1 genomic DNA induces autophagy in non-permissive cells in a STING dependent manner.
Schmallenberg virus (SBV), an orthobunyavirus of the Simbu serogroup, recently emerged in Europe and has been suggested to be a Shamonda/Sathuperi virus reassortant. Results of full-genome and serologic investigations indicate that SBV belongs to the species Sathuperi virus and is a possible ancestor of the reassortant Shamonda virus.
Schmallenberg virus; taxonomic classification; phylogeny; orthobunyavirus; Simbu serogroup; viruses; Shamonda virus; taxonomy
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.
HA cleavage site; hemagglutinin; high-pathogenic avian influenza virus; influenza virus; pathogenicity
H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses (HPAIV) of clade 2.2 spread from Southeast Asia to Europe. Intriguingly, in contrast to all common avian strains specifying glutamic acid at position 627 of the PB2 protein (PB2-627E), they carry a lysine at this position (PB2-627K), which is normally found only in human strains. To analyze the impact of this mutation on the host range of HPAIV H5N1, we altered PB2-627K to PB2-627E in the European isolate A/Swan/Germany/R65/2006 (R65). In contrast to the parental R65, multicycle growth and polymerase activity of the resulting mutant R65-PB2K627E were considerably impaired in mammalian but not in avian cells. Correspondingly, the 50% lethal dose (LD50) in mice was increased by three orders of magnitude, whereas virulence in chicken remained unchanged, resulting in 100% lethality, as was found for the parental R65. Strikingly, R65-PB2K627E reverted to PB2-627K after only one passage in mice but did not revert in chickens. To investigate whether additional R65 genes influence reversion, we passaged R65-PB2K627E reassortants containing genes from A/Hong Kong/156/97 (H5N1) (carrying PB2-627E), in avian and mammalian cells. Reversion to PB2-627K in mammalian cells required the presence of the R65 nucleoprotein (NP). This finding corresponds to results of others that during replication of avian strains in mammalian cells, PB2-627K restores an impaired PB2-NP association. Since this mutation is apparently not detrimental for virus prevalence in birds, it has not been eliminated. However, the prompt reversion to PB2-627K in MDCK cells and mice suggests that the clade 2.2 H5N1 HPAIV may have had a history of intermediate mammalian hosts.
In 2011, an unidentified disease in cattle was reported in Germany and the Netherlands. Clinical signs included fever, decreased milk production, and diarrhea. Metagenomic analysis identified a novel orthobunyavirus, which subsequently was isolated from blood of affected animals. Surveillance was initiated to test malformed newborn animals in the affected region.
metagenomics; next generation sequencing; orthobunyavirus; Schmallenberg virus; cattle; zoonoses; viruses; Europe; Germany; the Netherlands
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.
Soft X-ray cryo-microscopy/tomography of vitreous samples is becoming a valuable tool in structural cell biology. Within the ‘water-window’ wavelength region (2.34–4.37 nm), it provides absorption contrast images with high signal to noise ratio and resolution of a few tens of nanometer. Soft X-rays with wavelengths close to the K-absorption edge of oxygen penetrate biological samples with thicknesses in the micrometer range. Here, we report on the application of a recently established extension of the transmission soft X-ray cryo-microscope (HZB TXM) at the beamline U41-XM of the BESSY II electron storage ring by an in-column epi-fluorescence and reflected light cryo-microscope. We demonstrate the new capability for correlative fluorescence and soft X-ray cryo-microscopy/tomography of this instrument along a typical life science experimental approach – the correlation of a fluorophore-tagged protein (pUL34-GFP of pseudorabies virus, PrV, the nuclear membrane-anchored component of the nuclear egress complex of the Herpesviridae which interacts with viral pUL31) in PrV pUL34-GFP/pUL31 coexpressing mammalian cells, with virus-induced vesicular structures in the nucleus, expanding the nucleoplasmic reticulum. Taken together, our results demonstrate new possibilities to study the role of specific proteins in substructures of adherent cells, especially of the nucleus in toto, accessible to electron microscopy in thinned samples only.
DIC, differential interference contrast; GFP, green fluorescent protein; NEC, nuclear egress complex; PrV, pseudorabies virus; X-ray imaging; Live-cell imaging; Vitrification; Herpesvirus egress; Pseudorabies virus; Nucleoplasmic reticulum
The production of functional nidovirus replication-transcription complexes involves extensive proteolytic processing by virus-encoded proteases. In this study, we characterized the viral main protease (Mpro) of the type species, White bream virus (WBV), of the newly established genus Bafinivirus (order Nidovirales, family Coronaviridae, subfamily Torovirinae). Comparative sequence analysis and mutagenesis data confirmed that the WBV Mpro is a picornavirus 3C-like serine protease that uses a Ser-His-Asp catalytic triad embedded in a predicted two-β-barrel fold, which is extended by a third domain at its C terminus. Bacterially expressed WBV Mpro autocatalytically released itself from flanking sequences and was able to mediate proteolytic processing in trans. Using N-terminal sequencing of autoproteolytic processing products we tentatively identified Gln↓(Ala, Thr) as a substrate consensus sequence. Mutagenesis data provided evidence to suggest that two conserved His and Thr residues are part of the S1 subsite of the enzyme's substrate-binding pocket. Interestingly, we observed two N-proximal and two C-proximal autoprocessing sites in the bacterial expression system. The detection of two major forms of Mpro, resulting from processing at two different N-proximal and one C-proximal site, in WBV-infected epithelioma papulosum cyprini cells confirmed the biological relevance of the biochemical data obtained in heterologous expression systems. To our knowledge, the use of alternative Mpro autoprocessing sites has not been described previously for other nidovirus Mpro domains. The data presented in this study lend further support to our previous conclusion that bafiniviruses represent a distinct group of viruses that significantly diverged from other phylogenetic clusters of the order Nidovirales.
A virus isolated from a Natterer’s bat (Myotis nattererii) in Germany was differentiated from other lyssaviruses on the basis of the reaction pattern of a panel of monoclonal antibodies. Phylogenetic analysis supported the assumption that the isolated virus, Bokeloh bat lyssavirus, may represent a new member of the genus Lyssavirus.
rabies; bats; lyssavirus; Natterer’s bat; Myotis nattereri; sequence analysis; zoonosis; Germany; viruses; dispatch
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.
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.
Initiation of herpesvirus infection requires attachment of virions to the host cell followed by fusion of virion envelope and cellular cytoplasmic membrane during penetration. In several alphaherpesviruses, glycoprotein C (gC) is the primary attachment protein, interacting with cell-surface heparan sulfate proteoglycans. Secondary binding is mediated by gD, which, normally, is also required for penetration. Recently, we described the isolation of a gD-negative infectious pseudorabies virus (PrV) mutant, PrV gD− Pass (J. Schmidt, B. G. Klupp, A. Karger, and T. C. Mettenleiter, J. Virol. 71:17–24, 1997). In PrV gD− Pass, attachment and penetration occur in the absence of gD. To assess the importance of specific attachment for infectivity of PrV gD− Pass, the gene encoding gC was deleted, resulting in mutant PrV gCD− Pass. Deletion of both known attachment proteins reduced specific infectivity compared to wild-type PrV by more than 10,000-fold. Surprisingly, the virus mutant still retained significant infectivity and could be propagated on normal noncomplementing cells, indicating the presence of another receptor-binding virion protein. Selection of bovine kidney (MDBK) cells resistant to infection by PrV gCD− Pass resulted in the isolation of a cell clone, designated NB, which was susceptible to infection by wild-type PrV but refractory to infection by either PrV gCD− Pass or PrV gD− Pass, a defect which could partially be overcome by polyethylene glycol (PEG)-induced membrane fusion. However, even after PEG-induced infection plaque formation of PrV gCD− Pass or PrV gD− Pass did not ensue in NB cells. Also, phenotypic gD complementation of PrV gCD− Pass or PrV gD− Pass rescued the defect in infection of NB cells but did not restore plaque formation. Glycosaminoglycan analyses of MDBK and NB cells yielded identical results, and NB cells were normally susceptible to infection by other alphaherpesviruses as well as vesicular stomatitis virus. Infectious center assays after PEG-induced infection of NB cells with PrV gD− Pass on MDBK cells indicated efficient exit of virions from infected NB cells. Together, our data suggest the presence of another receptor and receptor-binding virion protein which can mediate PrV entry and cell-to-cell spread in MDBK cells.
In sheep polymorphisms of the prion gene (PRNP) at the codons 136, 154 and 171 strongly influence the susceptibility to scrapie and bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) infections. In goats a number of other gene polymorphisms were found which are suspected to trigger similar effects. However, no strong correlation between polymorphisms and TSE susceptibility in goats has yet been obtained from epidemiological studies and only a low number of experimental challenge data are available at present. We have therefore studied the potential impact of these polymorphisms in vitro by cell-free conversion assays using mouse scrapie strain Me7. Mouse scrapie brain derived PrPSc served as seeds and eleven recombinant single mutation variants of sheep and goat PrPC as conversion targets. With this approach it was possible to assign reduced conversion efficiencies to specific polymorphisms, which are associated to low frequency in scrapie-affected goats or found only in healthy animals. Moreover, we could demonstrate a dominant-negative inhibition of prion polymorphisms associated with high susceptibility by alleles linked to low susceptibility in vitro.
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.”
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.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses (HPAIV) originate from avirulent precursors but differ from all other influenza viruses by the presence of a polybasic cleavage site in their hemagglutinins (HA) of subtype H5 or H7. In this study, we investigated the ability of a low-pathogenic avian H5N1 strain to transform into an HPAIV. Using reverse genetics, we replaced the monobasic HA cleavage site of the low-pathogenic strain A/Teal/Germany/Wv632/2005 (H5N1) (TG05) by a polybasic motif from an HPAIV (TG05poly). To elucidate the virulence potential of all viral genes of HPAIV, we generated two reassortants carrying the HA from the HPAIV A/Swan/Germany/R65/06 (H5N1) (R65) plus the remaining genes from TG05 (TG05-HAR65) or in reversed composition the mutated TG05 HA plus the R65 genes (R65-HATG05poly). In vitro, TG05poly and both reassortants were able to replicate without the addition of trypsin, which is characteristic for HPAIV. Moreover, in contrast to avirulent TG05, the variants TG05poly, TG05-HAR65, and R65-HATG05poly are pathogenic in chicken to an increasing degree. Whereas the HA cleavage site mutant TG05poly led to temporary non-lethal disease in all animals, the reassortant TG05-HAR65 caused death in 3 of 10 animals. Furthermore, the reassortant R65-HATG05poly displayed the highest lethality as 8 of 10 chickens died, resembling “natural” HPAIV strains. Taken together, acquisition of a polybasic HA cleavage site is only one necessary step for evolution of low-pathogenic H5N1 strains into HPAIV. However, these low-pathogenic strains may already have cryptic virulence potential. Moreover, besides the polybasic cleavage site, the additional virulence determinants of H5N1 HPAIV are located within the HA itself and in other viral proteins.
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.