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10.  CD4+ T-Cell Help Enhances NK Cell Function following Therapeutic HIV-1 Vaccination 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(15):8349-8354.
Increasing data suggest that NK cells can mediate antiviral activity in HIV-1-infected humans, and as such, novel approaches harnessing the anti-HIV-1 function of both T cells and NK cells represent attractive options to improve future HIV-1 immunotherapies. Chronic progressive HIV-1 infection has been associated with a loss of CD4+ T helper cell function and with the accumulation of anergic NK cells. As several studies have suggested that cytokines produced by CD4+ T cells are required to enhance NK cell function in various infection models, we hypothesized that reconstitution of HIV-1-specific CD4+ T-cell responses by therapeutic immunization would restore NK cell activity in infected individuals. Using flow cytometry, we examined the function of CD4+ T cells and NK cells in response to HIV-1 in subjects with treated chronic HIV-1 infection before and after immunization with an adjuvanted HIV-1 Gp120/NefTat subunit protein vaccine candidate provided by GlaxoSmithKline. Vaccination induced an increased expression of interleukin-2 (IL-2) by Gp120-specific CD4+ T cells in response to HIV-1 peptides ex vivo, which was associated with enhanced production of gamma interferon (IFN-γ) by NK cells. Our data show that reconstitution of HIV-1-specific CD4+ T-cell function by therapeutic immunization can enhance NK cell activity in HIV-1-infected individuals.
IMPORTANCE NK cells are effector cells of the innate immune system and are important in the control of viral infection. Recent studies have demonstrated the crucial role played by NK cells in controlling and/or limiting acquisition of HIV-1 infection. However, NK cell function is impaired during progressive HIV-1 infection. We recently showed that therapeutic immunization of treated HIV-1-infected individuals reconstituted strong T-cell responses, measured notably by their production of IL-2, a cytokine that can activate NK cells. The current study suggests that reconstitution of T-cell function by therapeutic vaccination can enhance NK cell activity in individuals with chronic HIV-1 infection. Our findings provide new insights into the interplay between adaptive and innate immune mechanisms involved in HIV-1 immunity and unveil opportunities to harness NK cell function in future therapeutic vaccine strategies to target HIV-1.
PMCID: PMC4135926  PMID: 24829350
11.  Single-Domain Antibodies Targeting Neuraminidase Protect against an H5N1 Influenza Virus Challenge 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(15):8278-8296.
Influenza virus neuraminidase (NA) is an interesting target of small-molecule antiviral drugs. We isolated a set of H5N1 NA-specific single-domain antibodies (N1-VHHm) and evaluated their in vitro and in vivo antiviral potential. Two of them inhibited the NA activity and in vitro replication of clade 1 and 2 H5N1 viruses. We then generated bivalent derivatives of N1-VHHm by two methods. First, we made N1-VHHb by genetically joining two N1-VHHm moieties with a flexible linker. Second, bivalent N1-VHH-Fc proteins were obtained by genetic fusion of the N1-VHHm moiety with the crystallizable region of mouse IgG2a (Fc). The in vitro antiviral potency against H5N1 of both bivalent N1-VHHb formats was 30- to 240-fold higher than that of their monovalent counterparts, with 50% inhibitory concentrations in the low nanomolar range. Moreover, single-dose prophylactic treatment with bivalent N1-VHHb or N1-VHH-Fc protected BALB/c mice against a lethal challenge with H5N1 virus, including an oseltamivir-resistant H5N1 variant. Surprisingly, an N1-VHH-Fc fusion without in vitro NA-inhibitory or antiviral activity also protected mice against an H5N1 challenge. Virus escape selection experiments indicated that one amino acid residue close to the catalytic site is required for N1-VHHm binding. We conclude that single-domain antibodies directed against influenza virus NA protect against H5N1 virus infection, and when engineered with a conventional Fc domain, they can do so in the absence of detectable NA-inhibitory activity.
IMPORTANCE Highly pathogenic H5N1 viruses are a zoonotic threat. Outbreaks of avian influenza caused by these viruses occur in many parts of the world and are associated with tremendous economic loss, and these viruses can cause very severe disease in humans. In such cases, small-molecule inhibitors of the viral NA are among the few treatment options for patients. However, treatment with such drugs often results in the emergence of resistant viruses. Here we show that single-domain antibody fragments that are specific for NA can bind and inhibit H5N1 viruses in vitro and can protect laboratory mice against a challenge with an H5N1 virus, including an oseltamivir-resistant virus. In addition, plant-produced VHH fused to a conventional Fc domain can protect in vivo even in the absence of NA-inhibitory activity. Thus, NA of influenza virus can be effectively targeted by single-domain antibody fragments, which are amenable to further engineering.
PMCID: PMC4135927  PMID: 24829341
12.  Interaction between Hantavirus Nucleocapsid Protein (N) and RNA-Dependent RNA Polymerase (RdRp) Mutants Reveals the Requirement of an N-RdRp Interaction for Viral RNA Synthesis 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(15):8706-8712.
Viral ribonucleocapsids harboring the viral genomic RNA are used as the template for viral mRNA synthesis and replication of the viral genome by viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp). Here we show that hantavirus nucleocapsid protein (N protein) interacts with RdRp in virus-infected cells. We mapped the RdRp binding domain at the N terminus of N protein. Similarly, the N protein binding pocket is located at the C terminus of RdRp. We demonstrate that an N protein-RdRp interaction is required for RdRp function during the course of virus infection in the host cell.
PMCID: PMC4135928  PMID: 24850733
13.  Cell Death-Inducing DFFA-Like Effector b Is Required for Hepatitis C Virus Entry into Hepatocytes 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(15):8433-8444.
The molecular mechanism of the hepatic tropism of hepatitis C virus (HCV) remains incompletely defined. In vitro hepatic differentiation of pluripotent stem cells produces hepatocyte-like cells (HLCs) permissive for HCV infection, providing an opportunity for studying liver development and host determinants of HCV susceptibility. We previously identified the transition stage of HCV permissiveness and now investigate whether a host protein whose expression is induced during this transition stage is important for HCV infection. We suppressed the expression of a liver-specific protein, cell death-inducing DFFA-like effector b (CIDEB), and performed hepatocyte function and HCV infection assays. We also used a variety of cell-based assays to dissect the specific step of the HCV life cycle that potentially requires CIDEB function. We found CIDEB to be an essential cofactor for HCV entry into hepatocytes. Genetic interference with CIDEB in stem cells followed by hepatic differentiation leads to HLCs that are refractory to HCV infection, and infection time course experiments revealed that CIDEB functions in a late step of HCV entry, possibly to facilitate membrane fusion. The role of CIDEB in mediating HCV entry is distinct from those of the well-established receptors, as it is not required for HCV pseudoparticle entry. Finally, HCV infection effectively downregulates CIDEB protein through a posttranscriptional mechanism.
IMPORTANCE This study identifies a hepatitis C virus (HCV) entry cofactor that is required for HCV infection of hepatocytes and potentially facilitates membrane fusion between viral and host membranes. CIDEB and its interaction with HCV may open up new avenues of investigation of lipid droplets and viral entry.
PMCID: PMC4135929  PMID: 24829338
14.  Influenza A Virus-Induced Degradation of Eukaryotic Translation Initiation Factor 4B Contributes to Viral Replication by Suppressing IFITM3 Protein Expression 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(15):8375-8385.
Although alteration in host cellular translation machinery occurs in virus-infected cells, the role of such alteration and the precise pathogenic processes are not well understood. Influenza A virus (IAV) infection shuts off host cell gene expression at transcriptional and translational levels. Here, we found that the protein level of eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4B (eIF4B), an integral component of the translation initiation apparatus, was dramatically reduced in A549 cells as well as in the lung, spleen, and thymus of mice infected with IAV. The decrease in eIF4B level was attributed to lysosomal degradation of eIF4B, which was induced by viral NS1 protein. Silencing eIF4B expression in A549 cells significantly promoted IAV replication, and conversely, overexpression of eIF4B markedly inhibited the viral replication. Importantly, we observed that eIF4B knockdown transgenic mice were more susceptible to IAV infection, exhibiting faster weight loss, shorter survival time, and more-severe organ damage. Furthermore, we demonstrated that eIF4B regulated the expression of interferon-induced transmembrane protein 3 (IFITM3), a critical protein involved in immune defense against a variety of RNA viruses, including influenza virus. Taken together, our findings reveal that eIF4B plays an important role in host defense against IAV infection at least by regulating the expression of IFITM3, which restricts viral entry and thereby blocks early stages of viral production. These data also indicate that influenza virus has evolved a strategy to overcome host innate immunity by downregulating eIF4B protein.
IMPORTANCE Influenza A virus (IAV) infection stimulates the host innate immune system, in part, by inducing interferons (IFNs). Secreted IFNs activate the Janus kinase/signal transducers and activators of transcription (JAK/STAT) pathway, leading to elevated transcription of a large group of IFN-stimulated genes that have antiviral function. To circumvent the host innate immune response, influenza virus has evolved multiple strategies for suppressing the production of IFNs. Here, we show that IAV infection induces lysosomal degradation of eIF4B protein; and eIF4B inhibits IAV replication by upregulating expression of interferon-induced transmembrane protein 3 (IFITM3), a key protein that protects the host from virus infection. Our finding illustrates a critical role of eIF4B in the host innate immune response and provides novel insights into the complex mechanisms by which influenza virus interacts with its host.
PMCID: PMC4135930  PMID: 24829357
15.  Glutamic Acid at Residue 125 of the prM Helix Domain Interacts with Positively Charged Amino Acids in E Protein Domain II for Japanese Encephalitis Virus-Like-Particle Production 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(15):8386-8396.
Interaction between E and prM proteins in flavivirus-infected cells is a major factor for virus-like particle (VLP) production. The prM helical (prM-H) domain is topologically close to and may interact with domain II of the E protein (EDII). In this study, we investigated prM-H domain amino acid residues facing Japanese encephalitis virus EDII using site-directed mutagenesis to determine their roles in prM-E interaction and VLP production. Our results indicate that negatively charged prM-E125 residue at the prM-H domain affected VLP production via one or more interactions with positively charged E-K93 and E-H246 residues at EDII. Exchanges of oppositely charged residue side chains at prM-E125/E-K93 and prM-E125/E-H246 are recoverable for VLP production. The prM-E125 and E-H246 residues are conserved and that the positive charge of the E-K93 residue is preserved in different flavivirus groups. These findings suggest that the electrostatic attractions of prM-E125, E-K93, and E-H246 residues are important to flavivirus VLP production and that inhibiting these interactions is a potential strategy for blocking flavivirus infections.
IMPORTANCE Molecular interaction between E and prM proteins of Japanese encephalitis virus is a major driving force for virus-like particle (VLP) production. The current high-resolution structures available for prM-E complexes do not include the membrane proximal stem region of prM. The prM stem region contains an N-terminal loop and a helix domain (prM-H). Since the prM-H domain is topologically close to domain II of the E protein (EDII), this study was to determine molecular interactions between the prM-H domain and EDII. We found that the molecular interactions between prM-E125 residue and positively charged E-K93 and E-H246 residues at EDII are critical for VLP production. More importantly, the prM-E125 and E-H246 residues are conserved and the positive charge of the E-K93 residue is preserved in different flavivirus groups. Our findings help refine the structure and molecular interactions on the flavivirus surface and reveal a potential strategy for blocking flavivirus infections by inhibiting these electrostatic interactions.
PMCID: PMC4135931  PMID: 24829339
16.  Human Immunodeficiency Virus Reverse Transcriptase Displays Dramatically Higher Fidelity under Physiological Magnesium Conditions In Vitro 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(15):8514-8527.
The fidelity of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) reverse transcriptase (RT) has been a subject of intensive investigation. The mutation frequencies for the purified enzyme in vitro vary widely but are typically in the 10−4 range (per nucleotide addition), making the enzyme severalfold less accurate than most polymerases, including other RTs. This has often been cited as a factor in HIV's accelerated generation of genetic diversity. However, cellular experiments suggest that HIV does not have significantly lower fidelity than other retroviruses and shows a mutation frequency in the 10−5 range. In this report, we reconcile, at least in part, these discrepancies by showing that HIV RT fidelity in vitro is in the same range as cellular results from experiments conducted with physiological (for lymphocytes) concentrations of free Mg2+ (∼0.25 mM) and is comparable to Moloney murine leukemia virus (MuLV) RT fidelity. The physiological conditions produced mutation rates that were 5 to 10 times lower than those obtained under typically employed in vitro conditions optimized for RT activity (5 to 10 mM Mg2+). These results were consistent in both commonly used lacZα complementation and steady-state fidelity assays. Interestingly, although HIV RT showed severalfold-lower fidelity under high-Mg2+ (6 mM) conditions, MuLV RT fidelity was insensitive to Mg2+. Overall, the results indicate that the fidelity of HIV replication in cells is compatible with findings of experiments carried out in vitro with purified HIV RT, providing more physiological conditions are used.
IMPORTANCE Human immunodeficiency virus rapidly evolves through the generation and subsequent selection of mutants that can circumvent the immune response and escape drug therapy. This process is fueled, in part, by the presumably highly error-prone HIV polymerase reverse transcriptase (RT). Paradoxically, results of studies examining HIV replication in cells indicate an error frequency that is ∼10 times lower than the rate for RT in the test tube, which invokes the possibility of factors that make RT more accurate in cells. This study brings the cellular and test tube results in closer agreement by showing that HIV RT is not more error prone than other RTs and, when assayed under physiological magnesium conditions, has a much lower error rate than in typical assays conducted using conditions optimized for enzyme activity.
PMCID: PMC4135932  PMID: 24850729
17.  Interaction of Kaposi's Sarcoma-Associated Herpesvirus ORF6 Protein with Single-Stranded DNA 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(15):8687-8695.
Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) ORF6 is homologous to the herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) ICP8 and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) BALF2 proteins. Here, we describe its single-stranded DNA (ssDNA) binding properties. Based on previous findings with ICP8 and BALF2, a 60-amino-acid C-terminal deletion mutant of Orf6 was generated, and the protein was purified to explore the function of the C terminus in ssDNA binding. We showed that full-length ORF6 binds cooperatively to M13 ssDNA, disrupting its secondary structure and extending it to a length equivalent to that of duplex M13 DNA. The width of the ORF6-ssDNA filament is 9 nm, and a 7.3-nm repeat can be distinguished along the filament axis. Fluorescence polarization analysis revealed that the wild-type and C-terminal mutant ORF6 proteins bind equally well to short ssDNA substrates, with dissociation constant (Kd) values of 2.2 × 10−7M and 1.5 × 10−7M, respectively. These values were confirmed by electrophoretic mobility shift assay (EMSA) analysis, which also suggested that binding by the full-length protein may involve both monomers and small multimers. While no significant difference in affinities of binding between full-length ORF6 and the C-terminal deletion mutant were observed with the short DNAs, binding of the C-terminal mutant protein to M13 ssDNA showed a clear lack of cooperativity as seen by electron microscopy (EM). Incubation of a duplex DNA containing a long single-stranded tail with double-helical ORF6 protein filaments revealed that the ssDNA segment can be enveloped within the protein filament without disrupting the filament structure.
IMPORTANCE This work describes the biochemical characterization of the single-stranded DNA binding protein of KSHV, ORF6, central to viral DNA replication in infected cells. A C-terminal deletion mutant protein was generated to aid in understanding the role of the C terminus in DNA binding. Here we analyze the binding of the wild-type and mutant proteins to short oligomeric and longer genomic ssDNA substrates. Although it is capable of interacting with the short substrates, the inability of mutant ORF6 to form oligomers in solution hindered it from fully covering the long genomic substrates. We previously showed that ORF6 forms long filaments in solution, and we showed here that these can absorb ssDNA without disruption of the filament structure. This work will provide an important basis for future studies by us and/or others.
PMCID: PMC4135933  PMID: 24850743
18.  Genome-Wide Small Interfering RNA Screens Reveal VAMP3 as a Novel Host Factor Required for Uukuniemi Virus Late Penetration 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(15):8565-8578.
The Bunyaviridae constitute a large family of enveloped animal viruses, many of which are important emerging pathogens. How bunyaviruses enter and infect mammalian cells remains largely uncharacterized. We used two genome-wide silencing screens with distinct small interfering RNA (siRNA) libraries to investigate host proteins required during infection of human cells by the bunyavirus Uukuniemi virus (UUKV), a late-penetrating virus. Sequence analysis of the libraries revealed that many siRNAs in the screens inhibited infection by silencing not only the intended targets but additional genes in a microRNA (miRNA)-like manner. That the 7-nucleotide seed regions in the siRNAs can cause a perturbation in infection was confirmed by using synthetic miRNAs (miRs). One of the miRs tested, miR-142-3p, was shown to interfere with the intracellular trafficking of incoming viruses by regulating the v-SNARE VAMP3, a strong hit shared by both siRNA screens. Inactivation of VAMP3 by the tetanus toxin led to a block in infection. Using fluorescence-based techniques in fixed and live cells, we found that the viruses enter VAMP3+ endosomal vesicles 5 min after internalization and that colocalization was maximal 15 min thereafter. At this time, LAMP1 was associated with the VAMP3+ virus-containing endosomes. In cells depleted of VAMP3, viruses were mainly trapped in LAMP1-negative compartments. Together, our results indicated that UUKV relies on VAMP3 for penetration, providing an indication of added complexity in the trafficking of viruses through the endocytic network.
IMPORTANCE Bunyaviruses represent a growing threat to humans and livestock globally. Unfortunately, relatively little is known about these emerging pathogens. We report here the first human genome-wide siRNA screens for a bunyavirus. The screens resulted in the identification of 562 host cell factors with a potential role in cell entry and virus replication. To demonstrate the robustness of our approach, we confirmed and analyzed the role of the v-SNARE VAMP3 in Uukuniemi virus entry and infection. The information gained lays the basis for future research into the cell biology of bunyavirus infection and new antiviral strategies. In addition, by shedding light on serious caveats in large-scale siRNA screening, our experimental and bioinformatics procedures will be valuable in the comprehensive analysis of past and future high-content screening data.
PMCID: PMC4135934  PMID: 24850728
19.  Continuing Reassortment Leads to the Genetic Diversity of Influenza Virus H7N9 in Guangdong, China 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(15):8297-8306.
On 30 March 2013, a novel avian influenza A H7N9 virus causing severe human respiratory infections was identified in China. Preliminary sequence analyses have shown that the virus is a reassortant of H7N9 and H9N2 avian influenza viruses. In this study, we conducted enhanced surveillance for H7N9 virus in Guangdong, China, from April to August 2013. We isolated two H7N9 viral strains from environmental samples associated with poultry markets and one from a clinical patient. Sequence analyses showed that the Guangdong H7N9 virus isolated from April to May shared high sequence similarity with other strains from eastern China. The A/Guangdong/1/2013 (H7N9) virus isolated from the Guangdong patient on 10 August 2013 was divergent from previously sequenced H7N9 viruses and more closely related to local circulating H9N2 viruses in the NS and NP genes. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that four internal genes of the A/Guangdong/1/2013 (H7N9) virus—the NS, NP, PB1, and PB2 genes—were in clusters different from those for H7N9 viruses identified previously in other provinces of China. The discovery presented here suggests that continuing reassortment led to the emergence of the A/Guangdong/1/2013 (H7N9) virus as a novel H7N9 virus in Guangdong, China, and that viral adaptation to avian and human hosts must be assessed.
IMPORTANCE In this study, we isolated and characterized the avian influenza A H7N9 virus in Guangdong, China, from April to August 2013. We show that the viruses isolated from Guangdong environmental samples and chickens from April to May 2013 were highly similar to other H7N9 strains found in eastern China. The H7N9 virus isolated from the clinical patient in Guangdong in August 2013 was divergent from previously identified H7N9 viruses, with the NS and NP genes originating from recent H9N2 viruses circulating in the province. This study provides direct evidence that continuing reassortment occurred and led to the emergence of a novel H7N9 influenza virus in Guangdong, China. These results also shed light on how the H7N9 virus evolved, which is critically important for future monitoring and tracing of viral transmission.
PMCID: PMC4135935  PMID: 24829356
20.  Productive Replication of Human Papillomavirus 31 Requires DNA Repair Factor Nbs1 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(15):8528-8544.
Activation of the ATM (ataxia telangiectasia-mutated kinase)-dependent DNA damage response (DDR) is necessary for productive replication of human papillomavirus 31 (HPV31). We previously found that DNA repair and homologous recombination (HR) factors localize to sites of HPV replication, suggesting that ATM activity is required to recruit factors to viral genomes that can productively replicate viral DNA in a recombination-dependent manner. The Mre11-Rad50-Nbs1 (MRN) complex is an essential component of the DDR that is necessary for ATM-mediated HR repair and localizes to HPV DNA foci. In this study, we demonstrate that the HPV E7 protein is sufficient to increase levels of the MRN complex and also interacts with MRN components. We have found that Nbs1 depletion blocks productive viral replication and results in decreased localization of Mre11, Rad50, and the principal HR factor Rad51 to HPV DNA foci upon differentiation. Nbs1 contributes to the DDR by acting as an upstream activator of ATM in response to double-strand DNA breaks (DSBs) and as a downstream effector of ATM activity in the intra-S-phase checkpoint. We have found that phosphorylation of ATM and its downstream target Chk2, as well as SMC1 (structural maintenance of chromosome 1), is maintained upon Nbs1 knockdown in differentiating cells. Given that ATM and Chk2 are required for productive replication, our results suggest that Nbs1 contributes to viral replication outside its role as an ATM activator, potentially through ensuring localization of DNA repair factors to viral genomes that are necessary for efficient productive replication.
IMPORTANCE The mechanisms that regulate human papillomavirus (HPV) replication during the viral life cycle are not well understood. Our finding that Nbs1 is necessary for productive replication even in the presence of ATM (ataxia telangiectasia-mutated kinase) and Chk2 phosphorylation offers evidence that Nbs1 contributes to viral replication downstream of facilitating ATM activation. Nbs1 is required for the recruitment of Mre11 and Rad50 to viral genomes, suggesting that the MRN complex plays a direct role in facilitating productive viral replication, potentially through the processing of substrates that are recognized by the key homologous recombination (HR) factor Rad51. The discovery that E7 increases levels of MRN components, and MRN complex formation, identifies a novel role for E7 in facilitating productive replication. Our study not only identifies DNA repair factors necessary for HPV replication but also provides a deeper understanding of how HPV utilizes the DNA damage response to regulate viral replication.
PMCID: PMC4135936  PMID: 24850735
21.  Inhibition of Arenavirus Infection by a Glycoprotein-Derived Peptide with a Novel Mechanism 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(15):8556-8564.
The family Arenaviridae includes a number of viruses of public health importance, such as the category A hemorrhagic fever viruses Lassa virus, Junin virus, Machupo virus, Guanarito virus, and Sabia virus. Current chemotherapy for arenavirus infection is limited to the nucleoside analogue ribavirin, which is characterized by considerable toxicity and treatment failure. Using Pichinde virus as a model arenavirus, we attempted to design glycoprotein-derived fusion inhibitors similar to the FDA-approved anti-HIV peptide enfuvirtide. We have identified a GP2-derived peptide, AVP-p, with antiviral activity and no acute cytotoxicity. The 50% inhibitory dose (IC50) for the peptide is 7 μM, with complete inhibition of viral plaque formation at approximately 20 μM, and its antiviral activity is largely sequence dependent. AVP-p demonstrates activity against viruses with the Old and New World arenavirus viral glycoprotein complex but not against enveloped viruses of other families. Unexpectedly, fusion assays reveal that the peptide induces virus-liposome fusion at neutral pH and that the process is strictly glycoprotein mediated. As observed in cryo-electron micrographs, AVP-p treatment causes morphological changes consistent with fusion protein activation in virions, including the disappearance of prefusion glycoprotein spikes and increased particle diameters, and fluorescence microscopy shows reduced binding by peptide-treated virus. Steady-state fluorescence anisotropy measurements suggest that glycoproteins are destabilized by peptide-induced alterations in viral membrane order. We conclude that untimely deployment of fusion machinery by the peptide could render virions less able to engage in on-pathway receptor binding or endosomal fusion. AVP-p may represent a potent, highly specific, novel therapeutic strategy for arenavirus infection.
IMPORTANCE Because the only drug available to combat infection by Lassa virus, a highly pathogenic arenavirus, is toxic and prone to treatment failure, we identified a peptide, AVP-p, derived from the fusion glycoprotein of a nonpathogenic model arenavirus, which demonstrates antiviral activity and no acute cytotoxicity. AVP-p is unique among self-derived inhibitory peptides in that it shows broad, specific activity against pseudoviruses bearing Old and New World arenavirus glycoproteins but not against viruses from other families. Further, the peptide's mechanism of action is highly novel. Biochemical assays and cryo-electron microscopy indicate that AVP-p induces premature activation of viral fusion proteins through membrane perturbance. Peptide treatment, however, does not increase the infectivity of cell-bound virus. We hypothesize that prematurely activated virions are less fit for receptor binding and membrane fusion and that AVP-p may represent a viable therapeutic strategy for arenavirus infection.
PMCID: PMC4135937  PMID: 24850726
22.  Increased Mucosal CD4+ T Cell Activation in Rhesus Macaques following Vaccination with an Adenoviral Vector 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(15):8468-8478.
The possibility that vaccination with adenovirus (AdV) vectors increased mucosal T cell activation remains a central hypothesis to explain the potential enhancement of HIV acquisition within the Step trial. Modeling this within rhesus macaques is complicated because human adenoviruses, including human adenovirus type 5 (HAdV-5), are not endogenous to macaques. Here, we tested whether vaccination with a rhesus macaque-derived adenoviral vector (simian adenovirus 7 [SAdV-7]) enhances mucosal T cell activation within rhesus macaques. Following intramuscular SAdV-7 vaccination, we observed a pronounced increase in SAdV-7-specific CD4+ T cell responses in peripheral blood and, more dramatically, in rectal mucosa tissue. Vaccination also induced a significant increase in the frequency of activated memory CD4+ T cells in SAdV-7- and HAdV-5-vaccinated animals in the rectal mucosa but not in peripheral blood. These fluctuations within the rectal mucosa were also associated with a pronounced decrease in the relative frequency of naive resting CD4+ T cells. Together, these results indicate that peripheral vaccination with an AdV vector can increase the activation of mucosal CD4+ T cells, potentially providing an experimental model to further evaluate the role of host-vector interactions in increased HIV acquisition after AdV vector vaccination.
IMPORTANCE The possibility that vaccination with a human adenovirus 5 vector increased mucosal T cell activation remains a central hypothesis to explain the potential enhancement of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) acquisition within the Step trial. In this study, we tested whether vaccination with a rhesus macaque-derived adenoviral vector in rhesus macaques enhances mucosal CD4+ T cell activation, the main cell target of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)/HIV. The results showed that vaccination with an adenoviral vector indeed increases activation of mucosal CD4+ T cells and potentially increases susceptibility to SIV infection.
PMCID: PMC4135938  PMID: 24829340
23.  Structural Insight into BH3 Domain Binding of Vaccinia Virus Antiapoptotic F1L 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(15):8667-8677.
Apoptosis is a tightly regulated process that plays a crucial role in the removal of virus-infected cells, a process controlled by both pro- and antiapoptotic members of the Bcl-2 family. The proapoptotic proteins Bak and Bax are regulated by antiapoptotic Bcl-2 proteins and are also activated by a subset of proteins known as BH3-only proteins that perform dual functions by directly activating Bak and Bax or by sequestering and neutralizing antiapoptotic family members. Numerous viruses express proteins that prevent premature host cell apoptosis. Vaccinia virus encodes F1L, an antiapoptotic protein essential for survival of infected cells that bears no discernible sequence homology to mammalian cell death inhibitors. Despite the limited sequence similarities, F1L has been shown to adopt a novel dimeric Bcl-2-like fold that enables hetero-oligomeric binding to both Bak and the proapoptotic BH3-only protein Bim that ultimately prevents Bak and Bax homo-oligomerization. However, no structural data on the mode of engagement of F1L and its Bcl-2 counterparts are available. Here we solved the crystal structures of F1L in complex with two ligands, Bim and Bak. Our structures indicate that F1L can engage two BH3 ligands simultaneously via the canonical Bcl-2 ligand binding grooves. Furthermore, by structure-guided mutagenesis, we generated point mutations within the binding pocket of F1L in order to elucidate the residues responsible for both Bim and Bak binding and prevention of apoptosis. We propose that the sequestration of Bim by F1L is primarily responsible for preventing apoptosis during vaccinia virus infection.
IMPORTANCE Numerous viruses have adapted strategies to counteract apoptosis by encoding proteins responsible for sequestering proapoptotic components. Vaccinia virus, the prototypical member of the family Orthopoxviridae, encodes a protein known as F1L that functions to prevent apoptosis by interacting with Bak and the BH3-only protein Bim. Despite recent structural advances, little is known regarding the mechanics of binding between F1L and the proapoptotic Bcl-2 family members. Utilizing three-dimensional structures of F1L bound to host proapoptotic proteins, we generated variants of F1L that neutralize Bim and/or Bak. We demonstrate that during vaccinia virus infection, engagement of Bim and Bak by F1L is crucial for subversion of host cell apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC4135939  PMID: 24850748
24.  Chikungunya Viruses That Escape Monoclonal Antibody Therapy Are Clinically Attenuated, Stable, and Not Purified in Mosquitoes 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(15):8213-8226.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a reemerging mosquito-transmitted alphavirus that causes epidemics of debilitating polyarthritis in humans. A prior study identified two anti-CHIKV monoclonal antibodies ([MAbs] CHK-152 and CHK-166) against the E2 and E1 structural proteins, which had therapeutic efficacy in immunocompetent and immunocompromised mice. Combination MAb therapy was required as administration of a single MAb resulted in the rapid selection of neutralization escape variants and treatment failure in mice. Here, we initially evaluated the efficacy of combination MAb therapy in a nonhuman primate model of CHIKV infection. Treatment of rhesus macaques with CHK-152 and CHK-166 reduced viral spread and infection in distant tissue sites and also neutralized reservoirs of infectious virus. Escape viruses were not detected in the residual viral RNA present in tissues and organs of rhesus macaques. To evaluate the possible significance of MAb resistance, we engineered neutralization escape variant viruses (E1-K61T, E2-D59N, and the double mutant E1-K61T E2-D59N) that conferred resistance to CHK-152 and CHK-166 and tested them for fitness in mosquito cells, mammalian cells, mice, and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. In both cell culture and mosquitoes, the mutant viruses grew equivalently and did not revert to wild-type (WT) sequence. All escape variants showed evidence of mild clinical attenuation, with decreased musculoskeletal disease at early times after infection in WT mice and a prolonged survival time in immunocompromised Ifnar1−/− mice. Unexpectedly, this was not associated with decreased infectivity, and consensus sequencing from tissues revealed no evidence of reversion or compensatory mutations. Competition studies with CHIKV WT also revealed no fitness compromise of the double mutant (E1-K61T E2-D59N) neutralization escape variant in WT mice. Collectively, our study suggests that neutralization escape viruses selected during combination MAb therapy with CHK-152 plus CHK-166 retain fitness, cause less severe clinical disease, and likely would not be purified during the enzootic cycle.
IMPORTANCE Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) causes explosive epidemics of acute and chronic arthritis in humans in Africa, the Indian subcontinent, and Southeast Asia and recently has spread to the New World. As there are no approved vaccines or therapies for human use, the possibility of CHIKV-induced debilitating disease is high in many parts of the world. To this end, our laboratory recently generated a combination monoclonal antibody therapy that aborted lethal and arthritogenic disease in wild-type and immunocompromised mice when administered as a single dose several days after infection. In this study, we show the efficacy of the antibody combination in nonhuman primates and also evaluate the significance of possible neutralization escape mutations in mosquito and mammalian cells, mice, and Aedes albopictus vector mosquitoes. Our experiments show that escape viruses from combination antibody therapy cause less severe CHIKV clinical disease, retain fitness, and likely would not be purified by mosquito vectors.
PMCID: PMC4135940  PMID: 24829346
25.  E1-Mediated Recruitment of a UAF1-USP Deubiquitinase Complex Facilitates Human Papillomavirus DNA Replication 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(15):8545-8555.
The human papillomavirus (HPV) E1 helicase promotes viral DNA replication through its DNA unwinding activity and association with host factors. The E1 proteins from anogenital HPV types interact with the cellular WD repeat-containing factor UAF1 (formerly known as p80). Specific amino acid substitutions in E1 that impair this interaction inhibit maintenance of the viral episome in immortalized keratinocytes and reduce viral DNA replication by up to 70% in transient assays. In this study, we determined by affinity purification of UAF1 that it interacts with three deubiquitinating enzymes in C33A cervical carcinoma cells: USP1, a nuclear protein, and the two cytoplasmic enzymes USP12 and USP46. Coimmunoprecipitation experiments indicated that E1 assembles into a ternary complex with UAF1 and any one of these three USPs. Moreover, expression of E1 leads to a redistribution of USP12 and USP46 from the cytoplasm to the nucleus. Chromatin immunoprecipitation studies further revealed that E1 recruits these threes USPs to the viral origin in association with UAF1. The function of USP1, USP12, and USP46 in viral DNA replication was investigated by overproduction of catalytically inactive versions of these enzymes in transient assays. All three dominant negative USPs reduced HPV31 DNA replication by up to 60%, an effect that was specific, as it was not observed in assays performed with a truncated E1 lacking the UAF1-binding domain or with bovine papillomavirus 1 E1, which does not bind UAF1. These results highlight the importance of the USP1, USP12, and USP46 deubiquitinating enzymes in anogenital HPV DNA replication.
IMPORTANCE Human papillomaviruses are small DNA tumor viruses that induce benign and malignant lesions of the skin and mucosa. HPV types that infect the anogenital tract are the etiological agents of cervical cancer, the majority of anal cancers, and a growing proportion of head-and-neck cancers. Replication of the HPV genome requires the viral protein E1, a DNA helicase that also interacts with host factors to promote viral DNA synthesis. We previously reported that the E1 helicase from anogenital HPV types associates with the WD40 repeat-containing protein UAF1. Here, we show that UAF1 bridges the interaction of E1 with three deubiquitinating enzymes, USP1, USP12, and USP46. We further show that these deubiquitinases are recruited by E1/UAF1 to the viral origin of DNA replication and that overexpression of catalytically inactive versions of these enzymes reduces viral DNA replication. These results highlight the need for an E1-associated deubiquitinase activity in anogenital HPV genome replication.
PMCID: PMC4135941  PMID: 24850727

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