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1.  Inhibition, Escape, and Attenuated Growth of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Treated with Antisense Morpholino Oligomers†  
Journal of Virology  2005;79(15):9665-9676.
The recently emerged severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) is a potent pathogen of humans and is capable of rapid global spread. Peptide-conjugated antisense morpholino oligomers (P-PMO) were designed to bind by base pairing to specific sequences in the SARS-CoV (Tor2 strain) genome. The P-PMO were tested for their capacity to inhibit production of infectious virus as well as to probe the function of conserved viral RNA motifs and secondary structures. Several virus-targeted P-PMO and a random-sequence control P-PMO showed low inhibitory activity against SARS coronavirus. Certain other virus-targeted P-PMO reduced virus-induced cytopathology and cell-to-cell spread as a consequence of decreasing viral amplification. Active P-PMO were effective when administered at any time prior to peak viral synthesis and exerted sustained antiviral effects while present in culture medium. P-PMO showed low nonspecific inhibitory activity against translation of nontargeted RNA or growth of the arenavirus lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus. Two P-PMO targeting the viral transcription-regulatory sequence (TRS) region in the 5′ untranslated region were the most effective inhibitors tested. After several viral passages in the presence of a TRS-targeted P-PMO, partially drug-resistant SARS-CoV mutants arose which contained three contiguous base point mutations at the binding site of a TRS-targeted P-PMO. Those partially resistant viruses grew more slowly and formed smaller plaques than wild-type SARS-CoV. These results suggest PMO compounds have powerful therapeutic and investigative potential toward coronavirus infection.
doi:10.1128/JVI.79.15.9665-9676.2005
PMCID: PMC1181598  PMID: 16014928
2.  Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Nonstructural Proteins 3, 4, and 6 Induce Double-Membrane Vesicles 
mBio  2013;4(4):e00524-13.
ABSTRACT
Coronaviruses (CoV), like other positive-stranded RNA viruses, redirect and rearrange host cell membranes for use as part of the viral genome replication and transcription machinery. Specifically, coronaviruses induce the formation of double-membrane vesicles in infected cells. Although these double-membrane vesicles have been well characterized, the mechanism behind their formation remains unclear, including which viral proteins are responsible. Here, we use transfection of plasmid constructs encoding full-length versions of the three transmembrane-containing nonstructural proteins (nsps) of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus to examine the ability of each to induce double-membrane vesicles in tissue culture. nsp3 has membrane disordering and proliferation ability, both in its full-length form and in a C-terminal-truncated form. nsp3 and nsp4 working together have the ability to pair membranes. nsp6 has membrane proliferation ability as well, inducing perinuclear vesicles localized around the microtubule organizing center. Together, nsp3, nsp4, and nsp6 have the ability to induce double-membrane vesicles that are similar to those observed in SARS coronavirus-infected cells. This activity appears to require the full-length form of nsp3 for action, as double-membrane vesicles were not seen in cells coexpressing the C-terminal truncation nsp3 with nsp4 and nsp6.
IMPORTANCE
Although the majority of infections caused by coronaviruses in humans are relatively mild, the SARS outbreak of 2002 to 2003 and the emergence of the human coronavirus Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV) in 2012 highlight the ability of these viruses to cause severe pathology and fatality. Insight into the molecular biology of how coronaviruses take over the host cell is critical for a full understanding of any known and possible future outbreaks caused by these viruses. Additionally, since membrane rearrangement is a tactic used by all known positive-sense single-stranded RNA viruses, this work adds to that body of knowledge and may prove beneficial in the development of future therapies not only for human coronavirus infections but for other pathogens as well.
doi:10.1128/mBio.00524-13
PMCID: PMC3747587  PMID: 23943763
3.  Direct Observation of Membrane Insertion by Enveloped Virus Matrix Proteins by Phosphate Displacement 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e57916.
Enveloped virus release is driven by poorly understood proteins that are functional analogs of the coat protein assemblies that mediate intracellular vesicle trafficking. We used differential electron density mapping to detect membrane integration by membrane-bending proteins from five virus families. This demonstrates that virus matrix proteins replace an unexpectedly large portion of the lipid content of the inner membrane face, a generalized feature likely to play a role in reshaping cellular membranes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057916
PMCID: PMC3585246  PMID: 23469104
4.  Human CD8+ and CD4+ T Cell Memory to Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus Infection ▿ 
Journal of Virology  2011;85(22):11770-11780.
Although cellular immunity to acute lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) infection has been well characterized in experimental studies in mice, the T cell response to this virus in humans is incompletely understood. Thus, we analyzed the breadths, magnitudes, and differentiation phenotypes of memory LCMV-specific CD8+ and CD4+ T cells in three human donors displaying a variety of disease outcomes after accidental needle stick injury or exposure to LCMV. Although only a small cohort of donors was analyzed at a single time point postinfection, several interesting observations were made. First, we were able to detect LCMV-specific CD8+ and CD4+ T cell responses directly ex vivo at 4 to 8 years after exposure, demonstrating the longevity of T cell memory in humans. Second, unlike in murine models of LCMV infection, we found that the breadths of memory CD8+ and CD4+ T cell responses were not significantly different from one another. Third, it seemed that the overall CD8+ T cell response was augmented with increasing severity of disease, while the LCMV-specific CD4+ T cell response magnitude was highly variable between the three different donors. Next, we found that LCMV-specific CD8+ T cells in the three donors analyzed seemed to undergo an effector memory differentiation program distinct from that of CD4+ T cells. Finally, the levels of expression of memory, costimulatory, and inhibitory receptors on CD8+ and CD4+ T cell subsets, in some instances, correlated with disease outcome. These data demonstrate for the first time LCMV-specific CD8+ and CD4+ T cells in infected humans and begin to provide new insights into memory T cell responses following an acute virus infection.
doi:10.1128/JVI.05477-11
PMCID: PMC3209290  PMID: 21900169
5.  Naive Precursor Frequencies and MHC Binding Rather Than the Degree of Epitope Diversity Shape CD8+ T Cell Immunodominance1 
The primary CD8+ T cell response of C57BL/6J mice against the 28 known epitopes of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) is associated with a clear immunodominance hierarchy whose mechanism has yet to be defined. To evaluate the role of epitope competition in immunodominance, we manipulated the number of CD8+ T cell epitopes that could be recognized during LCMV infection. Decreasing epitope numbers, using a viral variant lacking dominant epitopes or C57BL/6J mice lacking H-2Kb, resulted in minor response increases for the remaining epitopes and no new epitopes being recognized. Increasing epitope numbers by using F1 hybrid mice, delivery by recombinant vaccinia virus, or epitope delivery as a pool in IFA maintained the overall response pattern; however, changes in the hierarchy did become apparent. MHC binding affinity of these epitopes was measured and was found to not strictly predict the hierarchy since in several cases similarly high binding affinities were associated with differences in immunodominance. In these instances the naive CD8+ T cell precursor frequency, directly measured by tetramer staining, correlated with the response hierarchy seen after LCMV infection. Finally, we investigated an escape mutant of the dominant GP33-41 epitope that elicited a weak response following LCMV variant virus infection. Strikingly, dominance loss likely reflects a substantial reduction in frequencies of naive precursors specific for this epitope. Thus, our results indicate that an intrinsic property of the epitope (MHC binding affinity) and an intrinsic property of the host (naive precursor frequency) jointly dictate the immunodominance hierarchy of CD8+ T cell responses.
PMCID: PMC3319690  PMID: 18641351
6.  Development of Peptide-Conjugated Morpholino Oligomers as Pan-Arenavirus Inhibitors▿† 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2011;55(10):4631-4638.
Members of the Arenaviridae family are a threat to public health and can cause meningitis and hemorrhagic fever, and yet treatment options remain limited by a lack of effective antivirals. In this study, we found that peptide-conjugated phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomers (PPMO) complementary to viral genomic RNA were effective in reducing arenavirus replication in cell cultures and in vivo. PPMO complementary to the Junín virus genome were designed to interfere with viral RNA synthesis or translation or both. However, only PPMO designed to potentially interfere with translation were effective in reducing virus replication. PPMO complementary to sequences that are highly conserved across the arenaviruses and located at the 5′ termini of both genomic segments were effective against Junín virus, Tacaribe virus, Pichinde virus, and lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV)-infected cell cultures and suppressed viral titers in the livers of LCMV-infected mice. These results suggest that arenavirus 5′ genomic termini represent promising targets for pan-arenavirus antiviral therapeutic development.
doi:10.1128/AAC.00650-11
PMCID: PMC3186971  PMID: 21825302
7.  Glycosylation modulates arenavirus glycoprotein expression and function 
Virology  2010;409(2):223-233.
The glycoprotein of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) contains nine potential N-linked glycosylation sites. We investigated the function of these N-glycosylations by using alanine-scanning mutagenesis. All the available sites were occupied on GP1 and two of three on GP2. N-linked glycan mutations at positions 87 and 97 on GP1 resulted in reduction of expression and absence of cleavage and were necessary for downstream functions, as confirmed by the loss of GP-mediated fusion activity with T87A, S97A mutants. In contrast, T234A and E379N/A381T mutants impaired GP-mediated cell fusion without altered expression or processing. Infectivity via virus-like particles required glycans and a cleaved glycoprotein. Glycosylation at the first site within GP2, not normally utilized by LCMV, exhibited increased VLP-infectivity. We also confirmed the role of the N-linked glycan at position 173 in the masking of the neutralizing epitope GP-1D. Taken together, our results indicated a strong relationship between fusion and infectivity.
doi:10.1016/j.virol.2010.10.011
PMCID: PMC3053032  PMID: 21056893
Arenavirus; Envelope glycoprotein; Lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus; Glycosylation; Epitope; Membrane fusion; Mutagenesis
8.  Conserved Residues in Lassa Fever Virus Z Protein Modulate Viral Infectivity at the Level of the Ribonucleoprotein▿  
Journal of Virology  2011;85(7):3172-3178.
Arenaviruses are negative-strand RNA viruses that cause human diseases such as lymphocytic choriomeningitis, Bolivian hemorrhagic fever, and Lassa hemorrhagic fever. No licensed vaccines exist, and current treatment is limited to ribavirin. The prototypic arenavirus, lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV), is a model for dissecting virus-host interactions in persistent and acute disease. The RING finger protein Z has been identified as the driving force of arenaviral budding and acts as the viral matrix protein. While residues in Z required for viral budding have been described, residues that govern the Z matrix function(s) have yet to be fully elucidated. Because this matrix function is integral to viral assembly, we reasoned that this would be reflected in sequence conservation. Using sequence alignment, we identified several conserved residues in Z outside the RING and late domains. Nine residues were each mutated to alanine in Lassa fever virus Z. All of the mutations affected the expression of an LCMV minigenome and the infectivity of virus-like particles, but to greatly varying degrees. Interestingly, no mutations appeared to affect Z-mediated budding or association with viral GP. Our findings provide direct experimental evidence supporting a role for Z in the modulation of the activity of the viral ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complex and its packaging into mature infectious viral particles.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02081-10
PMCID: PMC3067847  PMID: 21228230
9.  A Multivalent Vaccination Strategy for the Prevention of Old World Arenavirus Infection in Humans ▿  
Journal of Virology  2010;84(19):9947-9956.
Arenaviruses cause severe human disease ranging from aseptic meningitis following lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) infection to hemorrhagic fever syndromes following infection with Guanarito virus (GTOV), Junin virus (JUNV), Lassa virus (LASV), Machupo virus (MACV), Sabia virus (SABV), or Whitewater Arroyo virus (WWAV). Cellular immunity, chiefly the CD8+ T-cell response, plays a critical role in providing protective immunity following infection with the Old World arenaviruses LASV and LCMV. In the current study, we evaluated whether HLA class I-restricted epitopes that are cross-reactive among pathogenic arenaviruses could be identified for the purpose of developing an epitope-based vaccination approach that would cross-protect against multiple arenaviruses. We were able to identify a panel of HLA-A*0201-restricted peptides derived from the same region of the glycoprotein precursor (GPC) of LASV (GPC spanning residues 441 to 449 [GPC441-449]), LCMV (GPC447-455), JUNV (GPC429-437), MACV (GPC444-452), GTOV (GPC427-435), and WWAV (GPC428-436) that displayed high-affinity binding to HLA-A*0201 and were recognized by CD8+ T cells in a cross-reactive manner following LCMV infection or peptide immunization of HLA-A*0201 transgenic mice. Immunization of HLA-A*0201 mice with the Old World peptide LASV GPC441-449 or LCMV GPC447-455 induced high-avidity CD8+ T-cell responses that were able to kill syngeneic target cells pulsed with either LASV GPC441-449 or LCMV GPC447-455 in vivo and provided significant protection against viral challenge with LCMV. Through this study, we have demonstrated that HLA class I-restricted, cross-reactive epitopes exist among diverse arenaviruses and that individual epitopes can be utilized as effective vaccine determinants for multiple pathogenic arenaviruses.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00672-10
PMCID: PMC2937778  PMID: 20668086
10.  Unexpected Inheritance: Multiple Integrations of Ancient Bornavirus and Ebolavirus/Marburgvirus Sequences in Vertebrate Genomes 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(7):e1001030.
Vertebrate genomes contain numerous copies of retroviral sequences, acquired over the course of evolution. Until recently they were thought to be the only type of RNA viruses to be so represented, because integration of a DNA copy of their genome is required for their replication. In this study, an extensive sequence comparison was conducted in which 5,666 viral genes from all known non-retroviral families with single-stranded RNA genomes were matched against the germline genomes of 48 vertebrate species, to determine if such viruses could also contribute to the vertebrate genetic heritage. In 19 of the tested vertebrate species, we discovered as many as 80 high-confidence examples of genomic DNA sequences that appear to be derived, as long ago as 40 million years, from ancestral members of 4 currently circulating virus families with single strand RNA genomes. Surprisingly, almost all of the sequences are related to only two families in the Order Mononegavirales: the Bornaviruses and the Filoviruses, which cause lethal neurological disease and hemorrhagic fevers, respectively. Based on signature landmarks some, and perhaps all, of the endogenous virus-like DNA sequences appear to be LINE element-facilitated integrations derived from viral mRNAs. The integrations represent genes that encode viral nucleocapsid, RNA-dependent-RNA-polymerase, matrix and, possibly, glycoproteins. Integrations are generally limited to one or very few copies of a related viral gene per species, suggesting that once the initial germline integration was obtained (or selected), later integrations failed or provided little advantage to the host. The conservation of relatively long open reading frames for several of the endogenous sequences, the virus-like protein regions represented, and a potential correlation between their presence and a species' resistance to the diseases caused by these pathogens, are consistent with the notion that their products provide some important biological advantage to the species. In addition, the viruses could also benefit, as some resistant species (e.g. bats) may serve as natural reservoirs for their persistence and transmission. Given the stringent limitations imposed in this informatics search, the examples described here should be considered a low estimate of the number of such integration events that have persisted over evolutionary time scales. Clearly, the sources of genetic information in vertebrate genomes are much more diverse than previously suspected.
Author Summary
Vertebrate genomes contain numerous copies of retroviral sequences, acquired over the course of evolution. Until recently they were thought to be the only type of RNA viruses to be so represented. In this comprehensive study, we compared sequences representing all known non-retroviruses containing single stranded RNA genomes, with the genomes of 48 vertebrate species. We discovered that as long ago as 40 million years, almost half of these species acquired sequences related to the genes of certain of these RNA viruses. Surprisingly, almost all of the nearly 80 integrations identified are related to only two viral families, the Ebola/ Marburgviruses, and Bornaviruses, which are deadly pathogens that cause lethal hemorrhagic fevers and neurological disease, respectively. The conservation and expression of some of these endogenous sequences, and a potential correlation between their presence and a species' resistance to the diseases caused by the related viruses, suggest that they may afford an important selective advantage in these vertebrate populations. The related viruses could also benefit, as some resistant species may provide natural reservoirs for their persistence and transmission. This first comprehensive study of its kind demonstrates that the sources of genetic inheritance in vertebrate genomes are considerably more diverse than previously appreciated.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1001030
PMCID: PMC2912400  PMID: 20686665
11.  Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Structure of the Nucleic Acid-Binding Domain of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Nonstructural Protein 3▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(24):12998-13008.
The nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) structure of a globular domain of residues 1071 to 1178 within the previously annotated nucleic acid-binding region (NAB) of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus nonstructural protein 3 (nsp3) has been determined, and N- and C-terminally adjoining polypeptide segments of 37 and 25 residues, respectively, have been shown to form flexibly extended linkers to the preceding globular domain and to the following, as yet uncharacterized domain. This extension of the structural coverage of nsp3 was obtained from NMR studies with an nsp3 construct comprising residues 1066 to 1181 [nsp3(1066-1181)] and the constructs nsp3(1066-1203) and nsp3(1035-1181). A search of the protein structure database indicates that the globular domain of the NAB represents a new fold, with a parallel four-strand β-sheet holding two α-helices of three and four turns that are oriented antiparallel to the β-strands. Two antiparallel two-strand β-sheets and two 310-helices are anchored against the surface of this barrel-like molecular core. Chemical shift changes upon the addition of single-stranded RNAs (ssRNAs) identified a group of residues that form a positively charged patch on the protein surface as the binding site responsible for the previously reported affinity for nucleic acids. This binding site is similar to the ssRNA-binding site of the sterile alpha motif domain of the Saccharomyces cerevisiae Vts1p protein, although the two proteins do not share a common globular fold.
doi:10.1128/JVI.01253-09
PMCID: PMC2786856  PMID: 19828617
12.  Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Nonstructural Protein 2 Interacts with a Host Protein Complex Involved in Mitochondrial Biogenesis and Intracellular Signaling▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(19):10314-10318.
The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) generates 16 nonstructural proteins (nsp's) through proteolytic cleavage of a large precursor protein. Although several nsp's exhibit catalytic activities that are important for viral replication and transcription, other nsp's have less clearly defined roles during an infection. In order to gain a better understanding of their functions, we attempted to identify host proteins that interact with nsp's during SARS-CoV infections. For nsp2, we identified an interaction with two host proteins, prohibitin 1 (PHB1) and PHB2. Our results suggest that nsp2 may be involved in the disruption of intracellular host signaling during SARS-CoV infections.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00842-09
PMCID: PMC2748024  PMID: 19640993
13.  Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Structure Shows that the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-Unique Domain Contains a Macrodomain Fold▿  
Journal of Virology  2008;83(4):1823-1836.
The nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) structure of a central segment of the previously annotated severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS)-unique domain (SUD-M, for “middle of the SARS-unique domain”) in SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) nonstructural protein 3 (nsp3) has been determined. SUD-M(513-651) exhibits a macrodomain fold containing the nsp3 residues 528 to 648, and there is a flexibly extended N-terminal tail with the residues 513 to 527 and a C-terminal flexible tail of residues 649 to 651. As a follow-up to this initial result, we also solved the structure of a construct representing only the globular domain of residues 527 to 651 [SUD-M(527-651)]. NMR chemical shift perturbation experiments showed that SUD-M(527-651) binds single-stranded poly(A) and identified the contact area with this RNA on the protein surface, and electrophoretic mobility shift assays then confirmed that SUD-M has higher affinity for purine bases than for pyrimidine bases. In a further search for clues to the function, we found that SUD-M(527-651) has the closest three-dimensional structure homology with another domain of nsp3, the ADP-ribose-1"-phosphatase nsp3b, although the two proteins share only 5% sequence identity in the homologous sequence regions. SUD-M(527-651) also shows three-dimensional structure homology with several helicases and nucleoside triphosphate-binding proteins, but it does not contain the motifs of catalytic residues found in these structural homologues. The combined results from NMR screening of potential substrates and the structure-based homology studies now form a basis for more focused investigations on the role of the SARS-unique domain in viral infection.
doi:10.1128/JVI.01781-08
PMCID: PMC2643772  PMID: 19052085
14.  New Tools to Battle Emerging Viruses 
Current opinion in microbiology  2008;11(4):360-361.
doi:10.1016/j.mib.2008.07.003
PMCID: PMC2567130  PMID: 18644462
15.  Immunological Mechanisms Mediating Hantavirus Persistence in Rodent Reservoirs 
PLoS Pathogens  2008;4(11):e1000172.
Hantaviruses, similar to several emerging zoonotic viruses, persistently infect their natural reservoir hosts, without causing overt signs of disease. Spillover to incidental human hosts results in morbidity and mortality mediated by excessive proinflammatory and cellular immune responses. The mechanisms mediating the persistence of hantaviruses and the absence of clinical symptoms in rodent reservoirs are only starting to be uncovered. Recent studies indicate that during hantavirus infection, proinflammatory and antiviral responses are reduced and regulatory responses are elevated at sites of increased virus replication in rodents. The recent discovery of structural and non-structural proteins that suppress type I interferon responses in humans suggests that immune responses in rodent hosts could be mediated directly by the virus. Alternatively, several host factors, including sex steroids, glucocorticoids, and genetic factors, are reported to alter host susceptibility and may contribute to persistence of hantaviruses in rodents. Humans and reservoir hosts differ in infection outcomes and in immune responses to hantavirus infection; thus, understanding the mechanisms mediating viral persistence and the absence of disease in rodents may provide insight into the prevention and treatment of disease in humans. Consideration of the coevolutionary mechanisms mediating hantaviral persistence and rodent host survival is providing insight into the mechanisms by which zoonotic viruses have remained in the environment for millions of years and continue to be transmitted to humans.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000172
PMCID: PMC2584234  PMID: 19043585
16.  Proteomics Analysis Unravels the Functional Repertoire of Coronavirus Nonstructural Protein 3▿ †  
Journal of Virology  2008;82(11):5279-5294.
Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus infection and growth are dependent on initiating signaling and enzyme actions upon viral entry into the host cell. Proteins packaged during virus assembly may subsequently form the first line of attack and host manipulation upon infection. A complete characterization of virion components is therefore important to understanding the dynamics of early stages of infection. Mass spectrometry and kinase profiling techniques identified nearly 200 incorporated host and viral proteins. We used published interaction data to identify hubs of connectivity with potential significance for virion formation. Surprisingly, the hub with the most potential connections was not the viral M protein but the nonstructural protein 3 (nsp3), which is one of the novel virion components identified by mass spectrometry. Based on new experimental data and a bioinformatics analysis across the Coronaviridae, we propose a higher-resolution functional domain architecture for nsp3 that determines the interaction capacity of this protein. Using recombinant protein domains expressed in Escherichia coli, we identified two additional RNA-binding domains of nsp3. One of these domains is located within the previously described SARS-unique domain, and there is a nucleic acid chaperone-like domain located immediately downstream of the papain-like proteinase domain. We also identified a novel cysteine-coordinated metal ion-binding domain. Analyses of interdomain interactions and provisional functional annotation of the remaining, so-far-uncharacterized domains are presented. Overall, the ensemble of data surveyed here paint a more complete picture of nsp3 as a conserved component of the viral protein processing machinery, which is intimately associated with viral RNA in its role as a virion component.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02631-07
PMCID: PMC2395186  PMID: 18367524
17.  Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Structure of the N-Terminal Domain of Nonstructural Protein 3 from the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;81(21):12049-12060.
This paper describes the structure determination of nsp3a, the N-terminal domain of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) nonstructural protein 3. nsp3a exhibits a ubiquitin-like globular fold of residues 1 to 112 and a flexibly extended glutamic acid-rich domain of residues 113 to 183. In addition to the four β-strands and two α-helices that are common to ubiquitin-like folds, the globular domain of nsp3a contains two short helices representing a feature that has not previously been observed in these proteins. Nuclear magnetic resonance chemical shift perturbations showed that these unique structural elements are involved in interactions with single-stranded RNA. Structural similarities with proteins involved in various cell-signaling pathways indicate possible roles of nsp3a in viral infection and persistence.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00969-07
PMCID: PMC2168779  PMID: 17728234
18.  Arenavirus Z-Glycoprotein Association Requires Z Myristoylation but Not Functional RING or Late Domains▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;81(17):9451-9460.
Generation of infectious arenavirus-like particles requires the virus RING finger Z protein and surface glycoprotein precursor (GPC) and the correct processing of GPC into GP1, GP2, and a stable signal peptide (SSP). Z is the driving force of arenavirus budding, whereas the GP complex (GPc), consisting of hetero-oligomers of SSP, GP1, and GP2, forms the viral envelope spikes that mediate receptor recognition and cell entry. Based on the roles played by Z and GP in the arenavirus life cycle, we hypothesized that Z and the GPc should interact in a manner required for virion formation. Here, using confocal microscopy and coimmunoprecipitation assays, we provide evidence for subcellular colocalization and biochemical interaction, respectively, of Z and the GPc. Our results from mutation-function analysis reveal that Z myristoylation, but not the Z late (L) or RING domain, is required for Z-GPc interaction. Moreover, Z interacted directly with SSP in the absence of other components of the GPc. We obtained similar results with Z and GPC from the prototypical arenavirus lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus and the hemorrhagic fever arenavirus Lassa fever virus.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00499-07
PMCID: PMC1951451  PMID: 17581989
19.  Antiviral Effects of Antisense Morpholino Oligomers in Murine Coronavirus Infection Models▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;81(11):5637-5648.
The recent emergence of novel pathogenic human and animal coronaviruses has highlighted the need for antiviral therapies that are effective against a spectrum of these viruses. We have used several strains of murine hepatitis virus (MHV) in cell culture and in vivo in mouse models to investigate the antiviral characteristics of peptide-conjugated antisense phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomers (P-PMOs). Ten P-PMOs directed against various target sites in the viral genome were tested in cell culture, and one of these (5TERM), which was complementary to the 5′ terminus of the genomic RNA, was effective against six strains of MHV. Further studies were carried out with various arginine-rich peptides conjugated to the 5TERM PMO sequence in order to evaluate efficacy and toxicity and thereby select candidates for in vivo testing. In uninfected mice, prolonged P-PMO treatment did not result in weight loss or detectable histopathologic changes. 5TERM P-PMO treatment reduced viral titers in target organs and protected mice against virus-induced tissue damage. Prophylactic 5TERM P-PMO treatment decreased the amount of weight loss associated with infection under most experimental conditions. Treatment also prolonged survival in two lethal challenge models. In some cases of high-dose viral inoculation followed by delayed treatment, 5TERM P-PMO treatment was not protective and increased morbidity in the treated group, suggesting that P-PMO may cause toxic effects in diseased mice that were not apparent in the uninfected animals. However, the strong antiviral effect observed suggests that with further development, P-PMO may provide an effective therapeutic approach against a broad range of coronavirus infections.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02360-06
PMCID: PMC1900280  PMID: 17344287
20.  Mapping the Landscape of the Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus Stable Signal Peptide Reveals Novel Functional Domains▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;81(11):5649-5657.
The stable signal peptide (SSP) of the lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus surface glycoprotein precursor has several unique characteristics. The SSP is unusually long, at 58 amino acids, and contains two hydrophobic domains, and its sequence is highly conserved among both Old and New World arenaviruses. To better understand the functions of the SSP, a panel of point and deletion mutants was created by in vitro mutagenesis to target the highly conserved elements within the SSP. We were also able to confirm critical residues required for separate SSP functions by trans-complementation. Using these approaches, it was possible to resolve functional domains of the SSP. In characterizing our SSP mutants, we discovered that the SSP is involved in several distinct functions within the viral life cycle, beyond translocation of the viral surface glycoprotein precursor into the endoplasmic reticulum lumen. The SSP is required for efficient glycoprotein expression, posttranslational maturation cleavage of GP1 and GP2 by SKI-1/S1P protease, glycoprotein transport to the cell surface plasma membrane, formation of infectious virus particles, and acid pH-dependent glycoprotein-mediated cell fusion.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02759-06
PMCID: PMC1900251  PMID: 17376927
21.  Crystal Structure of a Monomeric Form of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Endonuclease nsp15 Suggests a Role for Hexamerization as an Allosteric Switch▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;81(12):6700-6708.
Mature nonstructural protein-15 (nsp15) from the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) contains a novel uridylate-specific Mn2+-dependent endoribonuclease (NendoU). Structure studies of the full-length form of the obligate hexameric enzyme from two CoVs, SARS-CoV and murine hepatitis virus, and its monomeric homologue, XendoU from Xenopus laevis, combined with mutagenesis studies have implicated several residues in enzymatic activity and the N-terminal domain as the major determinant of hexamerization. However, the tight link between hexamerization and enzyme activity in NendoUs has remained an enigma. Here, we report the structure of a trimmed, monomeric form of SARS-CoV nsp15 (residues 28 to 335) determined to a resolution of 2.9 Å. The catalytic loop (residues 234 to 249) with its two reactive histidines (His 234 and His 249) is dramatically flipped by ∼120° into the active site cleft. Furthermore, the catalytic nucleophile Lys 289 points in a diametrically opposite direction, a consequence of an outward displacement of the supporting loop (residues 276 to 295). In the full-length hexameric forms, these two loops are packed against each other and are stabilized by intimate intersubunit interactions. Our results support the hypothesis that absence of an adjacent monomer due to deletion of the hexamerization domain is the most likely cause for disruption of the active site, offering a structural basis for why only the hexameric form of this enzyme is active.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02817-06
PMCID: PMC1900129  PMID: 17409150
22.  The CD8+ T-Cell Response to Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus Involves the L Antigen: Uncovering New Tricks for an Old Virus▿ † 
Journal of Virology  2007;81(10):4928-4940.
CD8+ T-cell responses control lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) infection in H-2b mice. Although antigen-specific responses against LCMV infection are well studied, we found that a significant fraction of the CD8+ CD44hi T-cell response to LCMV in H-2b mice was not accounted for by known epitopes. We screened peptides predicted to bind major histocompatibility complex class I and overlapping 15-mer peptides spanning the complete LCMV proteome for gamma interferon (IFN-γ) induction from CD8+ T cells derived from LCMV-infected H-2b mice. We identified 19 novel epitopes. Together with the 9 previously known, these epitopes account for the total CD8+ CD44hi response. Thus, bystander T-cell activation does not contribute appreciably to the CD8+ CD44hi pool. Strikingly, 15 of the 19 new epitopes were derived from the viral L polymerase, which, until now, was not recognized as a target of the cellular response induced by LCMV infection. The L epitopes induced significant levels of in vivo cytotoxicity and conferred protection against LCMV challenge. Interestingly, protection from viral challenge was best correlated with the cytolytic potential of CD8+ T cells, whereas IFN-γ production and peptide avidity appear to play a lesser role. Taken together, these findings illustrate that the LCMV-specific CD8+ T-cell response is more complex than previously appreciated.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02632-06
PMCID: PMC1900207  PMID: 17329346
23.  Ribonucleocapsid Formation of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus through Molecular Action of the N-Terminal Domain of N Protein▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;81(8):3913-3921.
Conserved among all coronaviruses are four structural proteins: the matrix (M), small envelope (E), and spike (S) proteins that are embedded in the viral membrane and the nucleocapsid phosphoprotein (N), which exists in a ribonucleoprotein complex in the lumen. The N-terminal domain of coronaviral N proteins (N-NTD) provides a scaffold for RNA binding, while the C-terminal domain (N-CTD) mainly acts as oligomerization modules during assembly. The C terminus of the N protein anchors it to the viral membrane by associating with M protein. We characterized the structures of N-NTD from severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) in two crystal forms, at 1.17 Å (monoclinic) and at 1.85 Å (cubic), respectively, resolved by molecular replacement using the homologous avian infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) structure. Flexible loops in the solution structure of SARS-CoV N-NTD are now shown to be well ordered around the β-sheet core. The functionally important positively charged β-hairpin protrudes out of the core, is oriented similarly to that in the IBV N-NTD, and is involved in crystal packing in the monoclinic form. In the cubic form, the monomers form trimeric units that stack in a helical array. Comparison of crystal packing of SARS-CoV and IBV N-NTDs suggests a common mode of RNA recognition, but they probably associate differently in vivo during the formation of the ribonucleoprotein complex. Electrostatic potential distribution on the surface of homology models of related coronaviral N-NTDs suggests that they use different modes of both RNA recognition and oligomeric assembly, perhaps explaining why their nucleocapsids have different morphologies.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02236-06
PMCID: PMC1866093  PMID: 17229691
24.  HLA-A2-Restricted Protection against Lethal Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis▿ †  
Journal of Virology  2006;81(5):2307-2317.
The consequences of human lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) infection can be severe, including aseptic meningitis in immunocompetent individuals, hydrocephalus or chorioretinitis in fetal infection, or a highly lethal outcome in immunosuppressed individuals. In murine models of LCMV infection, CD8+ T cells play a primary role in providing protective immunity, and there is evidence that cellular immunity may also be important in related arenavirus infections in humans. For this reason, we sought to identify HLA-A2 supertype-restricted epitopes from the LCMV proteome and evaluate them as vaccine determinants in HLA transgenic mice. We identified four HLA-A*0201-restricted peptides—nucleoprotein NP69-77, glycoprotein precursor GPC10-18, GPC447-455, and zinc-binding protein Z49-58—that displayed high-affinity binding (≤275 nM) to HLA-A*0201, induced CD8+ T-cell responses of high functional avidity in HLA-A*0201 transgenic mice, and were naturally processed from native LCMV antigens in HLA-restricted human antigen presenting cells. One of the epitopes (GPC447-455), after peptide immunization of HLA-A*0201 mice, induced CD8+ T cells capable of killing peptide-pulsed HLA-A*0201-restricted target cells in vivo and protected mice against lethal intracranial challenge with LCMV.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02063-06
PMCID: PMC1865925  PMID: 17166907
25.  Identification of Protective Lassa Virus Epitopes That Are Restricted by HLA-A2 
Journal of Virology  2006;80(17):8351-8361.
Recovery from Lassa virus (LASV) infection usually precedes the appearance of neutralizing antibodies, indicating that cellular immunity plays a primary role in viral clearance. To date, the role of LASV-specific CD8+ T cells has not been evaluated in humans. To facilitate such studies, we utilized a predictive algorithm to identify candidate HLA-A2 supertype epitopes from the LASV nucleoprotein and glycoprotein precursor (GPC) genes. We identified three peptides (GPC42-50, GLVGLVTFL; GPC60-68, SLYKGVYEL; and GPC441-449, YLISIFLHL) that displayed high-affinity binding (≤98 nM) to HLA-A*0201, induced CD8+ T-cell responses of high functional avidity in HLA-A*0201 transgenic mice, and were naturally processed from native LASV GPC in human HLA-A*0201-positive target cells. HLA-A*0201 mice immunized with either GPC42-50 or GPC60-68 were protected against challenge with a recombinant vaccinia virus that expressed LASV GPC. The epitopes identified in this study represent potential diagnostic reagents and candidates for inclusion in epitope-based vaccine constructs. Our approach is applicable to any pathogen with existing sequence data, does not require manipulation of the actual pathogen or access to immune human donors, and should therefore be generally applicable to category A through C agents and other emerging pathogens.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00896-06
PMCID: PMC1563871  PMID: 16912286

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