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1.  The HERV-K Human Endogenous Retrovirus Envelope Protein Antagonizes Tetherin Antiviral Activity 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(23):13626-13637.
Endogenous retroviruses are the remnants of past retroviral infections that are scattered within mammalian genomes. In humans, most of these elements are old degenerate sequences that have lost their coding properties. The HERV-K(HML2) family is an exception: it recently amplified in the human genome and corresponds to the most active proviruses, with some intact open reading frames and the potential to encode viral particles. Here, using a reconstructed consensus element, we show that HERV-K(HML2) proviruses are able to inhibit Tetherin, a cellular restriction factor that is active against most enveloped viruses and acts by keeping the viral particles attached to the cell surface. More precisely, we identify the Envelope protein (Env) as the viral effector active against Tetherin. Through immunoprecipitation experiments, we show that the recognition of Tetherin is mediated by the surface subunit of Env. Similar to Ebola glycoprotein, HERV-K(HML2) Env does not mediate Tetherin degradation or cell surface removal; therefore, it uses a yet-undescribed mechanism to inactivate Tetherin. We also assessed all natural complete alleles of endogenous HERV-K(HML2) Env described to date for their ability to inhibit Tetherin and found that two of them (out of six) can block Tetherin restriction. However, due to their recent amplification, HERV-K(HML2) elements are extremely polymorphic in the human population, and it is likely that individuals will not all possess the same anti-Tetherin potential. Because of Tetherin's role as a restriction factor capable of inducing innate immune responses, this could have functional consequences for individual responses to infection.
IMPORTANCE Tetherin, a cellular protein initially characterized for its role against HIV-1, has been proven to counteract numerous enveloped viruses. It blocks the release of viral particles from producer cells, keeping them tethered to the cell surface. Several viruses have developed strategies to inhibit Tetherin activity, allowing them to efficiently infect and replicate in their host. Here, we show that human HERV-K(HML2) elements, the remnants of an ancient retroviral infection, possess an anti-Tetherin activity which is mediated by the envelope protein. It is likely that this activity was an important factor that contributed to the recent, human-specific amplification of this family of elements. Also, due to their recent amplification, HERV-K(HML2) elements are highly polymorphic in the human population. Since Tetherin is a mediator of innate immunity, interindividual variations among HERV-K(HML2) Env genes may result in differences in immune responses to infection.
PMCID: PMC4248984  PMID: 25210194
2.  Selective killing of p53-deficient cancer cells by SP600125 
EMBO Molecular Medicine  2012;4(6):500-514.
The genetic or functional inactivation of p53 is highly prevalent in human cancers. Using high-content videomicroscopy based on fluorescent TP53+/+ and TP53−/− human colon carcinoma cells, we discovered that SP600125, a broad-spectrum serine/threonine kinase inhibitor, kills p53-deficient cells more efficiently than their p53-proficient counterparts, in vitro. Similar observations were obtained in vivo, in mice carrying p53-deficient and -proficient human xenografts. Such a preferential cytotoxicity could be attributed to the failure of p53-deficient cells to undergo cell cycle arrest in response to SP600125. TP53−/− (but not TP53+/+) cells treated with SP600125 became polyploid upon mitotic abortion and progressively succumbed to mitochondrial apoptosis. The expression of an SP600125-resistant variant of the mitotic kinase MPS1 in TP53−/− cells reduced SP600125-induced polyploidization. Thus, by targeting MPS1, SP600125 triggers a polyploidization program that cannot be sustained by TP53−/− cells, resulting in the activation of mitotic catastrophe, an oncosuppressive mechanism for the eradication of mitosis-incompetent cells.
PMCID: PMC3443949  PMID: 22438244
caspases; HCT 116; high-throughput screening; mitochondrial outer membrane permeabilization; MPS1
4.  The Matrix Protein of Vesicular Stomatitis Virus Binds Dynamin for Efficient Viral Assembly▿  
Journal of Virology  2010;84(24):12609-12618.
Matrix proteins (M) direct the process of assembly and budding of viruses belonging to the Mononegavirales order. Using the two-hybrid system, the amino-terminal part of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) M was shown to interact with dynamin pleckstrin homology domain. This interaction was confirmed by coimmunoprecipitation of both proteins in cells transfected by a plasmid encoding a c-myc-tagged dynamin and infected by VSV. A role for dynamin in the viral cycle (in addition to its role in virion endocytosis) was suggested by the fact that a late stage of the viral cycle was sensitive to dynasore. By alanine scanning, we identified a single mutation of M protein that abolished this interaction and reduced virus yield. The adaptation of mutant virus (M.L4A) occurred rapidly, allowing the isolation of revertants, among which the M protein, despite having an amino acid sequence distinct from that of the wild type, recovered a significant level of interaction with dynamin. This proved that the mutant phenotype was due to the loss of interaction between M and dynamin. The infectious cycle of the mutant virus M.L4A was blocked at a late stage, resulting in a quasi-absence of bullet-shaped viruses in the process of budding at the cell membrane. This was associated with an accumulation of nucleocapsids at the periphery of the cell and a different pattern of VSV glycoprotein localization. Finally, we showed that M-dynamin interaction affects clathrin-dependent endocytosis. Our study suggests that hijacking the endocytic pathway might be an important feature for enveloped virus assembly and budding at the plasma membrane.
PMCID: PMC3004305  PMID: 20943988
5.  Highly Ordered Spatial Organization of the Structural Long Noncoding NEAT1 RNAs within Paraspeckle Nuclear Bodies 
Molecular Biology of the Cell  2010;21(22):4020-4027.
We describe the spatial organization of the two NEAT1 noncoding (nc)RNAs required for the integrity of the paraspeckle nuclear bodies. The central sequences of the long transcript are internal when its extremities and the short isoform are peripheral, indicating how RNA can contribute to the architecture of nuclear bodies.
Paraspeckles (PSPs) are nuclear bodies associated with the retention in the nucleus of specific mRNAs. Two isoforms of a long noncoding RNA (NEAT1_v1/Menε and NEAT1_v2/Menβ) are required for the integrity of PSPs. Here, we analyzed the molecular organization of PSPs by immuno- and in situ hybridization electron microscopy. Detection of the paraspeckle markers PSPC1 and P54NRB/NONO confirm the identity between PSPs and the previously described interchromatin granule-associated zones (IGAZs). High-resolution in situ hybridization of NEAT1 transcripts revealed a highly ordered organization of IGAZ/PSPs. Although the 3.7-kb NEAT1_v1 and the identical 5′ end of the 22.7-kb NEAT1_v2 transcripts are confined to the periphery, central sequences of NEAT1_v2 are found within the electron-dense core of the bodies. Moreover, the 3′ end of NEAT1_v2 also localize to the periphery, indicating possible architectures for IGAZ/PSPs. These results further suggest that the organization of NEAT1 transcripts constrains the geometry of these bodies. Accordingly, we observed in HeLa and NIH 3T3 cells that IGAZ/PSPs are elongated structures with a well-defined diameter. Our results provide new insight on the ability of noncoding RNAs to form subcellular structures.
PMCID: PMC2982136  PMID: 20881053
6.  Functional Characterization of Negri Bodies (NBs) in Rabies Virus-Infected Cells: Evidence that NBs Are Sites of Viral Transcription and Replication▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(16):7948-7958.
Rabies virus infection induces the formation of cytoplasmic inclusion bodies that resemble Negri bodies found in the cytoplasm of some infected nerve cells. We have studied the morphogenesis and the role of these Negri body-like structures (NBLs) during viral infection. The results indicate that these spherical structures (one or two per cell in the initial stage of infection), composed of the viral N and P proteins, grow during the virus cycle before appearing as smaller structures at late stages of infection. We have shown that the microtubule network is not necessary for the formation of these inclusion bodies but is involved in their dynamics. In contrast, the actin network does not play any detectable role in these processes. These inclusion bodies contain Hsp70 and ubiquitinylated proteins, but they are not misfolded protein aggregates. NBLs, in fact, appear to be functional structures involved in the viral life cycle. Specifically, using in situ fluorescent hybridization techniques, we show that all viral RNAs (genome, antigenome, and every mRNA) are located inside the inclusion bodies. Significantly, short-term RNA labeling in the presence of BrUTP strongly suggests that the NBLs are the sites where viral transcription and replication take place.
PMCID: PMC2715764  PMID: 19494013
9.  Regulation of autophagy by cytoplasmic p53 
Nature cell biology  2008;10(6):676-687.
Multiple cellular stressors, including activation of the tumour suppressor p53, can stimulate autophagy. Here we show that knockout, knockdown or pharmacological inhibition of p53 can induce autophagy in human, mouse and nematode cells. Enhanced autophagy improved the survival of p53-deficient cancer cells under conditions of hypoxia and nutrient depletion, allowing them to maintain high ATP levels. Inhibition of p53 led to autophagy in enucleated cells, and cytoplasmic, not nuclear, p53 was able to repress the enhanced autophagy of p53-/- cells. Many different inducers of autophagy (for example, starvation, rapamycin and toxins affecting the endoplasmic reticulum) stimulated proteasome-mediated degradation of p53 through a pathway relying on the E3 ubiquitin ligase HDM2. Inhibition of p53 degradation prevented the activation of autophagy in several cell lines, in response to several distinct stimuli. These results provide evidence of a key signalling pathway that links autophagy to the cancer-associated dysregulation of p53.
PMCID: PMC2676564  PMID: 18454141
10.  The GLN Family of Murine Endogenous Retroviruses Contains an Element Competent for Infectious Viral Particle Formation▿  
Journal of Virology  2008;82(9):4413-4419.
Several families of endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) have been identified in the mouse genome, in several instances by in silico searches, but for many of them it remains to be determined whether there are elements that can still encode functional retroviral particles. Here, we identify, within the GLN family of highly reiterated ERVs, one, and only one, copy that encodes retroviral particles prone to infection of mouse cells. We show that its envelope protein confers an ecotropic host range and recognizes a receptor different from mCAT1 and mSMIT1, the two previously identified receptors for other ecotropic mouse retroviruses. Electron microscopy disclosed viral particle assembly and budding at the cell membrane, as well as release of mature particles into the extracellular space. These particles are closely related to murine leukemia virus (MLV) particles, with which they have most probably been confused in the past. This study, therefore, identifies a new class of infectious mouse ERVs belonging to the family Gammaretroviridae, with one family member still functional today. This family is in addition to the two MLV and mouse mammary tumor virus families of active mouse ERVs with an extracellular life cycle.
PMCID: PMC2293071  PMID: 18287236
11.  Murine Endogenous Retrovirus MuERV-L Is the Progenitor of the “Orphan” Epsilon Viruslike Particles of the Early Mouse Embryo▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;82(3):1622-1625.
Viruslike particles which displayed a peculiar wheellike appearance that distinguished them from A-, B- or C-type particles had previously been described in the early mouse embryo. The maximum expression of these so-called epsilon particles was observed in two-cell-stage embryos, followed by their rapid decline at later stages of development and no particles detected at the zygote one-cell stage. Here, we show that these particles are in fact produced by a newly discovered murine endogenous retrovirus (ERV) belonging to the widespread family of mammalian ERV-L elements and named MuERV-L. Using antibodies that we raised against the Gag protein of these elements, Western blot analysis and in toto immunofluorescence studies of the embryos at various stages disclosed the same developmental expression profile as that observed for epsilon particles. Using expression vectors for cloned, full-length, entirely coding MuERV-L copies and cell transfection, direct identification of the epsilon particles was finally achieved by high-resolution electron microscopy.
PMCID: PMC2224431  PMID: 18045933
12.  Murine MusD Retrotransposon: Structure and Molecular Evolution of an “Intracellularized” Retrovirus▿  
Journal of Virology  2006;81(4):1888-1898.
We had previously identified active autonomous copies of the MusD long terminal repeat-retrotransposon family, which have retained transpositional activity. These elements are closely related to betaretroviruses but lack an envelope (env) gene. Here we show that these elements encode strictly intracellular virus-like particles that can unambiguously be identified by electron microscopy. We demonstrate intracellular maturation of the particles, with a significant proportion of densely packed cores for wild-type MusD but not for a protease mutant. We show that the molecular origin of this unexpected intracellular localization is solely dependent on the N-terminal part of the Gag protein, which lacks a functional sequence for myristoylation and plasma membrane targeting: replacement of the N-terminal domain of the MusD matrix protein by that of its closest relative—the Mason-Pfizer monkey virus—led to targeting of the MusD Gag to the plasma membrane, with viral particles budding and being released into the cell supernatant. These particles can further be pseudotyped with a heterologous envelope protein and become infectious, thus “reconstituting” a functional retrovirus prone to proviral insertions. Consistent with its retroviral origin, a sequence with a constitutive transport element-like activity can further be identified at the MusD 3′ untranslated region. A molecular scenario is proposed that accounts for the transition, during evolution, from an ancestral infectious betaretrovirus to the strictly intracellular MusD retrotransposon, involving not only the loss of the env gene but also an inability to escape the cell—via altered targeting of the Gag protein—resulting de facto in the generation of a very successful “intracellularized” insertional mutagen.
PMCID: PMC1797557  PMID: 17151128
13.  The Human Stress-Activated Protein kin17 Belongs to the Multiprotein DNA Replication Complex and Associates In Vivo with Mammalian Replication Origins 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(9):3814-3830.
The human stress-activated protein kin17 accumulates in the nuclei of proliferating cells with predominant colocalization with sites of active DNA replication. The distribution of kin17 protein is in equilibrium between chromatin-DNA and the nuclear matrix. An increased association with nonchromatin nuclear structure is observed in S-phase cells. We demonstrated here that kin17 protein strongly associates in vivo with DNA fragments containing replication origins in both human HeLa and monkey CV-1 cells. This association was 10-fold higher than that observed with nonorigin control DNA fragments in exponentially growing cells. In addition, the association of kin17 protein to DNA fragments containing replication origins was also analyzed as a function of the cell cycle. High binding of kin17 protein was found at the G1/S border and throughout the S phase and was negligible in both G0 and M phases. Specific monoclonal antibodies against kin17 protein induced a threefold inhibition of in vitro DNA replication of a plasmid containing a minimal replication origin that could be partially restored by the addition of recombinant kin17 protein. Immunoelectron microscopy confirmed the colocalization of kin17 protein with replication proteins like RPA, PCNA, and DNA polymerase α. A two-step chromatographic fractionation of nuclear extracts from HeLa cells revealed that kin17 protein localized in vivo in distinct protein complexes of high molecular weight. We found that kin17 protein purified within an ∼600-kDa protein complex able to support in vitro DNA replication by means of two different biochemical methods designed to isolate replication complexes. In addition, the reduced in vitro DNA replication activity of the multiprotein replication complex after immunodepletion for kin17 protein highlighted for a direct role in DNA replication at the origins.
PMCID: PMC1084281  PMID: 15831485
14.  Selective interactions of human kin17 and RPA proteins with chromatin and the nuclear matrix in a DNA damage- and cell cycle-regulated manner 
Nucleic Acids Research  2003;31(14):4162-4175.
Several proteins involved in DNA synthesis are part of the so-called ‘replication factories’ that are anchored on non-chromatin nuclear structures. We report here that human kin17, a nuclear stress-activated protein, associates with both chromatin and non-chromatin nuclear structures in a cell cycle- and DNA damage-dependent manner. After l-mimosine block and withdrawal we observed that kin17 protein was recruited in the nucleus during re-entry and progression through S phase. These results are consistent with a role of kin17 protein in DNA replication. About 50% of the total amount of kin17 protein was detected on nuclear structures and could not be released by detergents. Furthermore, the amount of kin17 protein greatly increased in both G1/S and S phase-arrested cells in fractions containing proteins anchored to nuclear structures. The detection of kin17 protein showed for the first time its preferential assembly within non-chromatin nuclear structures in G1/S and S phase-arrested cells, while the association with these structures was found to be less stable in the G2/M phase, as judged by fractionation of human cells and immunostaining. In asynchronous growing cells, kin17 protein interacted with both chromatin DNA and non-chromatin nuclear structures, while in S phase-arrested cells it interacted mostly with non-chromatin nuclear structures, as judged by DNase I treatment and in vivo UV cross-linking. In the presence of DNA damage in S phase cells, the distribution of kin17 protein became mainly associated with chromosomal DNA, as judged by limited formaldehyde cross-linking of living cells. The physical interaction of kin17 protein with components of the nuclear matrix was confirmed and visualized by indirect immunuofluorescence and immunoelectron microscopy. Our results indicate that, during S phase, a fraction of the human kin17 protein preferentially associates with the nuclear matrix, a fundamentally non-chromatin higher order nuclear structure, and to chromatin DNA in the presence of DNA damage.
PMCID: PMC165974  PMID: 12853634

Results 1-14 (14)