Chronic Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection afflicts millions worldwide with cirrhosis and liver cancer. HBV e-antigen (HBeAg), a clinical marker for disease severity, is a non-particulate variant of the protein (core antigen, HBcAg) that forms the building-blocks of capsids. HBeAg is not required for virion production, but is implicated in establishing immune tolerance and chronic infection. Here, we report the crystal structure of HBeAg, which clarifies how the short N-terminal propeptide of HBeAg induces a radically altered mode of dimerization relative to HBcAg (~140° rotation), locked into place through f ormation of intramolecular disulfide bridges. This structural switch precludes capsid assembly and engenders a distinct antigenic repertoire, explaining why the two antigens are cross-reactive at the T-cell level (through sequence identity) but not at the B-cell level (through conformation). The structure offers insight into how HBeAg may establish immune tolerance for HBcAg while evading its robust immunogenicity.
The matrix protein (M) of paramyxoviruses plays a key role in determining virion morphology by directing viral assembly and budding. Here, we report the crystal structure of the human metapneumovirus M at 2.8 Å resolution in its native dimeric state. The structure reveals the presence of a high-affinity Ca2+ binding site. Molecular dynamics simulations (MDS) predict a secondary lower-affinity site that correlates well with data from fluorescence-based thermal shift assays. By combining small-angle X-ray scattering with MDS and ensemble analysis, we captured the structure and dynamics of M in solution. Our analysis reveals a large positively charged patch on the protein surface that is involved in membrane interaction. Structural analysis of DOPC-induced polymerization of M into helical filaments using electron microscopy leads to a model of M self-assembly. The conservation of the Ca2+ binding sites suggests a role for calcium in the replication and morphogenesis of pneumoviruses.
•M is a calcium binding protein•Calcium stabilizes the structure of M•M forms an obligate dimer in solution•M self-assembles in the presence of lipids•The Paramyxoviruses and the Filoviruses have a common ancestor
The matrix protein (M) of paramyxoviruses plays a key role in determining virion morphology by directing viral assembly and budding. Leyrat et al. show that M forms an obligate dimer stabilized by calcium ion binding and suggest a role for Ca2+ in the replication and morphogenesis of some paramyxoviruses.
Human metapneumovirus (HMPV) of the family Paramyxoviridae is a major cause of respiratory illness worldwide. Phosphoproteins (P) from Paramyxoviridae are essential co-factors of the viral RNA polymerase that form tetramers and possess long intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs). We located the central region of HMPV P (Pced) which is involved in tetramerization using disorder analysis and modeled its 3D structure ab initio using Rosetta fold-and-dock. We characterized the solution-structure of Pced using small angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) and carried out direct fitting to the scattering data to filter out incorrect models. Molecular dynamics simulations (MDS) and ensemble optimization were employed to select correct models and capture the dynamic character of Pced. Our analysis revealed that oligomerization involves a compact central core located between residues 169-194 (Pcore), that is surrounded by flexible regions with α-helical propensity. We crystallized this fragment and solved its structure at 3.1 Å resolution by molecular replacement, using the folded core from our SAXS-validated ab initio model. The RMSD between modeled and experimental tetramers is as low as 0.9 Å, demonstrating the accuracy of the approach. A comparison of the structure of HMPV P to existing mononegavirales Pced structures suggests that Pced evolved under weak selective pressure. Finally, we discuss the advantages of using SAXS in combination with ab initio modeling and MDS to solve the structure of small, homo-oligomeric protein complexes.
Infectious pancreatic necrosis virus (IPNV), a member of the family Birnaviridae, infects young salmon, with a severe impact on the commercial sea farming industry. Of the five mature proteins encoded by the IPNV genome, the multifunctional VP3 has an essential role in morphogenesis; interacting with the capsid protein VP2, the viral double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) genome and the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase VP1. Here we investigate one of these VP3 functions and present the crystal structure of the C-terminal 12 residues of VP3 bound to the VP1 polymerase. This interaction, visualized for the first time, reveals the precise molecular determinants used by VP3 to bind the polymerase. Competition binding studies confirm that this region of VP3 is necessary and sufficient for VP1 binding, while biochemical experiments show that VP3 attachment has no effect on polymerase activity. These results indicate how VP3 recruits the polymerase into birnavirus capsids during morphogenesis.
Many complex viruses package their genomes into empty protein shells and bacteriophages of the Cystoviridae family provide some of the simplest models for this. The cystoviral hexameric NTPase, P4, uses chemical energy to translocate single-stranded RNA genomic precursors into the procapsid. We previously dissected the mechanism of RNA translocation for one such phage, ɸ12, and have now investigated three further highly divergent, cystoviral P4 NTPases (from ɸ6, ɸ8 and ɸ13). High-resolution crystal structures of the set of P4s allow a structure-based phylogenetic analysis, which reveals that these proteins form a distinct subfamily of the RecA-type ATPases. Although the proteins share a common catalytic core, they have different specificities and control mechanisms, which we map onto divergent N- and C-terminal domains. Thus, the RNA loading and tight coupling of NTPase activity with RNA translocation in ɸ8 P4 is due to a remarkable C-terminal structure, which wraps right around the outside of the molecule to insert into the central hole where RNA binds to coupled L1 and L2 loops, whereas in ɸ12 P4, a C-terminal residue, serine 282, forms a specific hydrogen bond to the N7 of purines ring to confer purine specificity for the ɸ12 enzyme.
The hallmark of a virus is its capsid, which harbors the viral genome and is formed from protein subunits, which assemble following precise geometric rules. dsRNA viruses use an unusual protein multiplicity (120 copies) to form their closed capsids. We have determined the atomic structure of the capsid protein (P1) from the dsRNA cystovirus Φ8. In the crystal P1 forms pentamers, very similar in shape to facets of empty procapsids, suggesting an unexpected assembly pathway that proceeds via a pentameric intermediate. Unlike the elongated proteins used by dsRNA mammalian reoviruses, P1 has a compact trapezoid-like shape and a distinct arrangement in the shell, with two near-identical conformers in nonequivalent structural environments. Nevertheless, structural similarity with the analogous protein from the mammalian viruses suggests a common ancestor. The unusual shape of the molecule may facilitate dramatic capsid expansion during phage maturation, allowing P1 to switch interaction interfaces to provide capsid plasticity.
•Crystal structure of the major capsid protein P1 of the Pseudomonas phage Φ8•Φ8 P1 shares a common ancestor with mammalian reoviruses•Φ8 P1’s trapezoidal shape may facilitate capsid expansion during maturation•The pentameric organization of Φ8 P1 suggests a revised assembly pathway
El Omari et al. report a structure of the dsRNA bacteriophage ϕ8 capsid protein P1. P1 crystallizes as a pentamer, suggesting a new pathway for procapsid assembly. P1 displays a novel fold and a trapezoidal shape, distinct from that of other dsRNA virus, which may facilitate capsid expansion during maturation.
It has proved difficult to classify viruses unless they are closely related since their rapid evolution hinders detection of remote evolutionary relationships in their genetic sequences. However, structure varies more slowly than sequence, allowing deeper evolutionary relationships to be detected. Bacteriophage P23-77 is an example of a newly identified viral lineage, with members inhabiting extreme environments. We have solved multiple crystal structures of the major capsid proteins VP16 and VP17 of bacteriophage P23-77. They fit the 14 Å resolution cryo-electron microscopy reconstruction of the entire virus exquisitely well, allowing us to propose a model for both the capsid architecture and viral assembly, quite different from previously published models. The structures of the capsid proteins and their mode of association to form the viral capsid suggest that the P23-77-like and adeno-PRD1 lineages of viruses share an extremely ancient common ancestor.
•High-resolution structures of the two major capsid proteins of bacteriophage P23-77•P23-77 capsid proteins exhibit a conserved single β-barrel core fold•P23-77 is an ancient relative of the double β-barrel lineage of viruses•Capsid model illustrates that P23-77 uses a novel method of organization
Rissanen et al. propose a model for the architecture and assembly of bacteriophage P23-77 quite different from those previously published. The capsid proteins and their mode of association to form the virus particle suggest that P23-77 share a common evolutionary origin with the PRD1/Adenovirus lineage.
Enveloped viruses have developed various adroit mechanisms to invade their host cells. This process requires one or more viral envelope glycoprotein to achieve cell attachment and membrane fusion. Members of the Flaviviridae such as flaviviruses possess only one envelope glycoprotein, E, whereas pestiviruses and hepacivirus encode two glycoproteins, E1 and E2. Although E2 is involved in cell attachment, it has been unclear which protein is responsible for membrane fusion. We report the crystal structures of the homodimeric glycoprotein E2 from the pestivirus bovine viral diarrhea virus 1 (BVDV1) at both neutral and low pH. Unexpectedly, BVDV1 E2 does not have a class II fusion protein fold, and at low pH the N-terminal domain is disordered, similarly to the intermediate postfusion state of E2 from sindbis virus, an alphavirus. Our results suggest that the pestivirus and possibly the hepacivirus fusion machinery are unlike any previously observed.
► Structure of the major antigenically dominant protein of BVDV ► The overall fold of BVDV E2 shows no similarity to the class II fusion proteins ► At low pH, BVDV E2 N-terminal domain is disordered ► Entry mechanism of BVDV is probably applicable to hepatitis C virus
Stuart and colleagues have determined the atomic structure of the ectodomain of bovine viral diarrhea virus E2 glycoprotein, the major, antigenically dominant protein on the virus surface. The structure was expected to resemble the fusion molecules found on the surface of viruses such as dengue virus, but it is unlike anything previously seen. E2 itself is not, in fact, the fusion protein but binds the cell receptor and directs fusion via a pH-dependent conformational switch.
Dengue virus infections are still increasing at an alarming rate in tropical and subtropical countries underlying the need for a dengue vaccine. Although it is relatively easy to generate antibody responses to dengue virus, low avidity or low concentrations of antibody may enhance infection of Fc receptor-bearing cells with clinical impact, posing a challenge to vaccine production. In this paper we report the characterization of a monoclonal antibody, 2H12, which is cross-reactive to all four serotypes in the dengue virus group. Crystal structures of 2H12-Fab in complex with domain III of the envelope protein from three dengue serotypes have been determined. 2H12 binds to the highly conserved AB loop of domain III of the envelope protein that is poorly accessible in the mature virion. 2H12 neutralization varied between dengue serotypes and strains; in particular, dengue serotype 2 was not neutralized. As the 2H12 binding epitope was conserved, this variation in neutralization highlights differences between dengue serotypes and suggests that significant conformational changes in the virus must take place for antibody binding. Surprisingly, 2H12 facilitated little or no enhancement of infection. These data provide a structural basis for understanding antibody neutralization and enhancement of infection, which is crucial for the development of future dengue vaccines.
RNA-dependent RNA polymerases (RdRps) are key to the replication of RNA viruses. A common divalent cation binding site, distinct from the positions of catalytic ions, has been identified in many viral RdRps. We have applied biochemical, biophysical, and structural approaches to show how the RdRp from bacteriophage ϕ6 uses the bound noncatalytic Mn2+ to facilitate the displacement of the C-terminal domain during the transition from initiation to elongation. We find that this displacement releases the noncatalytic Mn2+, which must be replaced for elongation to occur. By inserting a dysfunctional Mg2+ at this site, we captured two nucleoside triphosphates within the active site in the absence of Watson-Crick base pairing with template and mapped movements of divalent cations during preinitiation. These structures refine the pathway from preinitiation through initiation to elongation for the RNA-dependent RNA polymerization reaction, explain the role of the noncatalytic divalent cation in ϕ6 RdRp, and pinpoint the previously unresolved Mn2+-dependent step in replication.
The major capsid proteins VP16 and VP17 of bacteriophage P23-77 have been crystallized using both recombinant and purified virus and preliminary diffraction analyses have been performed.
Members of the diverse double-β-barrel lineage of viruses are identified by the conserved structure of their major coat protein. New members of this lineage have been discovered based on structural analysis and we are interested in identifying relatives that utilize unusual versions of the double-β-barrel fold. One candidate for such studies is P23-77, an icosahedral dsDNA bacteriophage that infects the extremophile Thermus thermophilus. P23-77 has two major coat proteins, namely VP16 and VP17, of a size consistent with a single-β-barrel core fold. These previously unstudied proteins have now been successfully expressed as recombinant proteins, purified and crystallized using hanging-drop and sitting-drop vapour-diffusion methods. Crystals of coat proteins VP16 and VP17 have been obtained as well as of a putative complex. In addition, virus-derived material has been crystallized. Diffraction data have been collected to beyond 3 Å resolution for five crystal types and structure determinations are in progress.
bacteriophages; capsid proteins
Viruses are obligate intracellular parasites and are some of the most rapidly evolving and diverse pathogens encountered by the host immune system. Large complicated viruses, such as poxviruses, have evolved a plethora of proteins to disrupt host immune signalling in their battle against immune surveillance. Recent X-ray crystallographic analysis of these viral immunomodulators has helped form an emerging picture of the molecular details of virus-host interactions. In this review we consider some of these immune evasion strategies as they apply to poxviruses, from a structural perspective, with specific examples from the European SPINE2-Complexes initiative. Structures of poxvirus immunomodulators reveal the capacity of viruses to mimic and compete against the host immune system, using a diverse range of structural folds that are unique or acquired from their hosts with both enhanced and unexpectedly divergent functions.
Bcl-2, B-cell lymphoma-2; CPXV, Cowpox virus; dsDNA, double-stranded DNA; ECTV, ectromelia virus; GAGs, glycosaminoglycans; GPCRs, G-protein coupled receptors; IFN, interferon; IG, immunoglobulin; PDB, protein data bank; RPXV, rabbitpox virus; r.m.s.d., root mean square deviation; SPINE, Structural Proteomics In Europe; TLR, Toll-like receptors; TNF, tumour necrosis factor; TNFR, tumour necrosis factor receptor; VACV, vaccinia virus; vCCI, viral CC-chemokine inhibitor; eIF2α, eukaryotic translation initiation factor 2 alpha; TRAF6, TNF-receptor-associated factor 6; IRAKs, IL-1 receptor associated kinases; IKK, IκB kinase; Structural virology; Innate immunity; Cell signalling; X-ray crystallography; Surface receptors
The morphogenesis of poxviruses such as vaccinia virus (VACV) sees the virion shape mature from spherical to brick-shaped. Trimeric capsomers of the VACV D13 protein form a transitory, stabilizing lattice on the surface of the initial spherical immature virus particle. The crystal structure of D13 reveals that this major scaffolding protein comprises a double β barrel “jelly-roll” subunit arranged as pseudo-hexagonal trimers. These structural features are characteristic of the major capsid proteins of a lineage of large icosahedral double-stranded DNA viruses including human adenovirus and the bacteriophages PRD1 and PM2. Structure-based phylogenetic analysis confirms that VACV belongs to this lineage, suggesting that (analogously to higher organism embryogenesis) early poxvirus morphogenesis reflects their evolution from a lineage of viruses sharing a common icosahedral ancestor.
► Poxvirus D13 acts as a scaffold for the morphogenesis of spherical immature virions ► D13 has a double “jelly-roll” structure, like other large DNA virus capsid proteins ► Structure-based phylogenetics places D13 into an icosahedral viral lineage ► Poxvirus morphogenesis reflects Vaccinia virus evolution from an icosahedral ancestor
The evolution of dengue viruses has resulted in four antigenically similar yet distinct serotypes. Infection with one serotype likely elicits lifelong immunity to that serotype, but generally not against the other three. Secondary or sequential infections are common, as multiple viral serotypes frequently cocirculate. Dengue infection, although frequently mild, can lead to dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) which can be life threatening. DHF is more common in secondary dengue infections, implying a role for the adaptive immune response in the disease. There is currently much effort toward the design and implementation of a dengue vaccine but these efforts are made more difficult by the challenge of inducing durable neutralizing immunity to all four viruses. Domain 3 of the dengue virus envelope protein (ED3) has been suggested as one such candidate because it contains neutralizing epitopes and it was originally thought that relatively few cross-reactive antibodies are directed to this domain. In this study, we performed a detailed analysis of the anti-ED3 response in a cohort of patients suffering either primary or secondary dengue infections. The results show dramatic evidence of original antigenic sin in secondary infections both in terms of binding and enhancement activity. This has important implications for dengue vaccine design because heterologous boosting is likely to maintain the immunological footprint of the first vaccination. On the basis of these findings, we propose a simple in vitro enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to diagnose the original dengue infection in secondary dengue cases.
Rev is a key regulatory protein of HIV-1. Its function is to bind to viral transcripts and effect export from the nucleus of unspliced mRNA thereby allowing the synthesis of structural proteins. Despite its evident importance, the structure of Rev has remained unknown, primarily because Rev’s proclivity for polymerization and aggregation is an impediment to crystallization. Monoclonal antibody antigen-binding domains (Fabs) have proven useful for the co-crystallization of other refractory proteins. In the present study, a chimeric rabbit/human anti-Rev Fab was selected by phage display, expressed in a bacterial secretion system, and purified from the media. The Fab readily solubilized polymeric Rev. The resulting Fab/Rev complex was purified by metal ion affinity chromatography and characterized by analytical ultracentrifugation which demonstrated monodispersity and indicated a 1:1 molar stoichiometry. The Fab binds with very high affinity, as determined by surface plasmon resonance, to a conformational epitope in the N-terminal half of Rev. The complex forms crystals suitable for structure determination. The ability to serve as a crystallization aid is a new application of broad utility for chimeric rabbit/human Fab. The corresponding single chain antibody (scFv) was also prepared, offering the potential of intracellular antibody therapeutics against HIV-1.
rabbit antibody; phage display; humanized Fab; scFv; crystallization chaperone
Flaviviridae are small enveloped viruses hosting a positive-sense single-stranded RNA genome. Besides yellow fever virus, a landmark case in the history of virology, members of the Flavivirus genus, such as West Nile virus and dengue virus, are increasingly gaining attention due to their re-emergence and incidence in different areas of the world. Additional environmental and demographic considerations suggest that novel or known flaviviruses will continue to emerge in the future. Nevertheless, up to few years ago flaviviruses were considered low interest candidates for drug design. At the start of the European Union VIZIER Project, in 2004, just two crystal structures of protein domains from the flaviviral replication machinery were known. Such pioneering studies, however, indicated the flaviviral replication complex as a promising target for the development of antiviral compounds. Here we review structural and functional aspects emerging from the characterization of two main components (NS3 and NS5 proteins) of the flavivirus replication complex. Most of the reviewed results were achieved within the European Union VIZIER Project, and cover topics that span from viral genomics to structural biology and inhibition mechanisms. The ultimate aim of the reported approaches is to shed light on the design and development of antiviral drug leads.
BVDV, bovine viral diarrhea virus; C, capsid protein; CSFV, classical swine fever virus; CCHFV, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus; CPE, cyto-pathogenic effect; dsRNA, double-stranded RNA; ER, endoplasmic reticulum; E, envelope protein; GMP, guanosine monophosphate; GTP, guanosine triphosphate; GTase, guanylyltransferase; NS3Hel, helicase; HIV, Human Immunodeficiency Virus I; HCV, hepatitis C virus; HBS, high affinity binding site; IMP, Inosine 5′-monophosphate; LBS, low-affinity binding site; M, membrane protein; NS5MTase, methyltransferase; N7MTase, (guanine-N7)-methyltransferase; 2′OMTase, (nucleoside-2′-O-)-methyltransferase; NS, non-structural; NLS, nuclear localization sequences; NS3Pro, protease; RC, replication-competent complex; RSV, respiratory syncytial virus; NS5RdRp, RNA-dependent RNA polymerase; NS3RTPase, RNA triphosphatase; AdoMet, S-adenosyl-L-methionine; ssRNA, single-stranded RNA; T-705 RMP, T-705-ribofuranosyl-5′-monophosphate; VIZIER, Viral Enzymes Involved in Replication; Flavivirus; Flaviviral NS3 protein; Flaviviral NS5 protein; Protease; Helicase; Polymerase; Methyltransferase; Flavivirus protein structure; Antivirals; VIZIER Consortium
Mokola virus (MOKV) is a nonsegmented, negative-sense RNA virus that belongs to the Lyssavirus genus and Rhabdoviridae family. MOKV phosphoprotein P is an essential component of the replication and transcription complex and acts as a cofactor for the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. P recruits the viral polymerase to the nucleoprotein-bound viral RNA (N-RNA) via an interaction between its C-terminal domain and the N-RNA complex. Here we present a structure for this domain of MOKV P, obtained by expression of full-length P in Escherichia coli, which was subsequently truncated during crystallization. The structure has a high degree of homology with P of rabies virus, another member of Lyssavirus genus, and to a lesser degree with P of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), a member of the related Vesiculovirus genus. In addition, analysis of the crystal packing of this domain reveals a potential binding site for the nucleoprotein N. Using both site-directed mutagenesis and yeast two-hybrid experiments to measure P-N interaction, we have determined the relative roles of key amino acids involved in this interaction to map the region of P that binds N. This analysis also reveals a structural relationship between the N-RNA binding domain of the P proteins of the Rhabdoviridae and the Paramyxoviridae.
The flavivirus genome comprises a single strand of positive-sense RNA, which is translated into a polyprotein and cleaved by a combination of viral and host proteases to yield functional proteins. One of these, nonstructural protein 3 (NS3), is an enzyme with both serine protease and NTPase/helicase activities. NS3 plays a central role in the flavivirus life cycle: the NS3 N-terminal serine protease together with its essential cofactor NS2B is involved in the processing of the polyprotein, whereas the NS3 C-terminal NTPase/helicase is responsible for ATP-dependent RNA strand separation during replication. An unresolved question remains regarding why NS3 appears to encode two apparently disconnected functionalities within one protein. Here we report the 2.75-Å-resolution crystal structure of full-length Murray Valley encephalitis virus NS3 fused with the protease activation peptide of NS2B. The biochemical characterization of this construct suggests that the protease has little influence on the helicase activity and vice versa. This finding is in agreement with the structural data, revealing a single protein with two essentially segregated globular domains. Comparison of the structure with that of dengue virus type 4 NS2B-NS3 reveals a relative orientation of the two domains that is radically different between the two structures. Our analysis suggests that the relative domain-domain orientation in NS3 is highly variable and dictated by a flexible interdomain linker. The possible implications of this conformational flexibility for the function of NS3 are discussed.
The expression, purification and crystallization of the full-length matrix protein from three lyssaviruses is described.
The matrix (M) proteins of lyssaviruses (family Rhabdoviridae) are crucial to viral morphogenesis as well as in modulating replication and transcription of the viral genome. To date, no high-resolution structural information has been obtained for full-length rhabdovirus M. Here, the cloning, expression and purification of the matrix proteins from three lyssaviruses, Lagos bat virus (LAG), Mokola virus and Thailand dog virus, are described. Crystals have been obtained for the full-length M protein from Lagos bat virus (LAG M). Successful crystallization depended on a number of factors, in particular the addition of an N-terminal SUMO fusion tag to increase protein solubility. Diffraction data have been recorded from crystals of native and selenomethionine-labelled LAG M to 2.75 and 3.0 Å resolution, respectively. Preliminary analysis indicates that these crystals belong to space group P6122 or P6522, with unit-cell parameters a = b = 56.9–57.2, c = 187.9–188.6 Å, consistent with the presence of one molecule per asymmetric unit, and structure determination is currently in progress.
matrix proteins; Rhabdoviridae; lyssaviruses; Lagos bat virus; SUMO tag
New World arenaviruses, which cause severe hemorrhagic fever, rely upon their envelope glycoproteins for attachment and fusion into their host cell. Here we present the crystal structure of the Machupo virus GP1 attachment glycoprotein, which is responsible for high-affinity binding at the cell surface to the transferrin receptor. This first structure of an arenavirus glycoprotein shows that GP1 consists of a novel α/β fold. This provides a blueprint of the New World arenavirus attachment glycoproteins and reveals a new architecture of viral attachment, using a protein fold of unknown origins.
A procedure for microseeding into nanolitre crystallization drops is described with selected successful examples.
A simple semi-automated microseeding procedure for nanolitre crystallization experiments is described. Firstly, a microseed stock solution is made from microcrystals using a Teflon bead. A dilution series of this microseed stock is then prepared and dispensed as 100 nl droplets into 96-well crystallization plates, facilitating the incorporation of seeding into high-throughput crystallization pipelines. This basic microseeding procedure has been modified to include additive-screening and cross-seeding methods. Five examples in which these techniques have been used successfully are described.
crystallization; crystal optimization; microseeding; additives
Two members of the paramyxovirus family, Nipah virus (NiV) and Hendra virus (HeV), are recent additions to a growing number of agents of emergent diseases which use bats as a natural host. Identification of ephrin-B2 and ephrin-B3 as cellular receptors for these viruses has enabled the development of immunotherapeutic reagents which prevent virus attachment and subsequent fusion. Here we present the structural analysis of the protein and carbohydrate components of the unbound viral attachment glycoprotein of NiV glycoprotein (NiV-G) at a 2.2-Å resolution. Comparison with its ephrin-B2-bound form reveals that conformational changes within the envelope glycoprotein are required to achieve viral attachment. Structural differences are particularly pronounced in the 579-590 loop, a major component of the ephrin binding surface. In addition, the 236-245 loop is rather disordered in the unbound structure. We extend our structural characterization of NiV-G with mass spectrometric analysis of the carbohydrate moieties. We demonstrate that NiV-G is largely devoid of the oligomannose-type glycans that in viruses such as human immunodeficiency virus type 1 and Ebola virus influence viral tropism and the host immune response. Nevertheless, we find putative ligands for the endothelial cell lectin, LSECtin. Finally, by mapping structural conservation and glycosylation site positions from other members of the paramyxovirus family, we suggest the molecular surface involved in oligomerization. These results suggest possible pathways of virus-host interaction and strategies for the optimization of recombinant vaccines.
The RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRP) of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) viruses performs both RNA replication and transcription. In order to initiate RNA polymerization, viral RdRPs must be able to interact with the incoming 3′ terminus of the template and position it, so that a productive binary complex is formed. Structural studies have revealed that RdRPs of dsRNA viruses that lack helicases have electrostatically charged areas on the polymerase surface, which might facilitate such interactions. In this study, structure-based mutagenesis, enzymatic assays and molecular mapping of bacteriophage φ6 RdRP and its RNA were used to elucidate the roles of the negatively charged plough area on the polymerase surface, of the rim of the template tunnel and of the template specificity pocket that is key in the formation of the productive RNA-polymerase binary complex. The positively charged rim of the template tunnel has a significant role in the engagement of highly structured ssRNA molecules, whereas specific interactions further down in the template tunnel promote ssRNA entry to the catalytic site. Hence, we show that by aiding the formation of a stable binary complex with optimized RNA templates, the overall polymerization activity of the φ6 RdRP can be greatly enhanced.
The matrix (M) proteins of rhabdoviruses are multifunctional proteins essential for virus maturation and budding that also regulate the expression of viral and host proteins. We have solved the structures of M from the vesicular stomatitis virus serotype New Jersey (genus: Vesiculovirus) and from Lagos bat virus (genus: Lyssavirus), revealing that both share a common fold despite sharing no identifiable sequence homology. Strikingly, in both structures a stretch of residues from the otherwise-disordered N terminus of a crystallographically adjacent molecule is observed binding to a hydrophobic cavity on the surface of the protein, thereby forming non-covalent linear polymers of M in the crystals. While the overall topology of the interaction is conserved between the two structures, the molecular details of the interactions are completely different. The observed interactions provide a compelling model for the flexible self-assembly of the matrix protein during virion morphogenesis and may also modulate interactions with host proteins.
Rhabdoviruses are of considerable socioeconomic importance. For example, rabies virus causes lethal encephalitis resulting in approximately 50,000 human deaths per year. Rhabdoviruses infect cells and propagate despite having small genomes that encode only five multifunctional proteins. One of these, the matrix protein, plays a structural role in virus assembly in addition to modulating the production of host and virus proteins, promoting viral egress from the host cell and modulating cell death. We have solved the 3-dimensional crystal structures of matrix proteins from two distantly related rhabdoviruses: Lagos bat virus and vesicular stomatitis virus. The two proteins have very similar structures despite having dissimilar amino acid sequences. Surprisingly, for both we observe self-association between a pocket on the main globular domain and one extremity of an adjacent molecule in the crystal. Repetition of this interaction gives rise to non-covalent polymers of matrix proteins, adjacent proteins being tethered by a flexible linker. This provides a compelling molecular mechanism for the self-association of matrix molecules required for virus assembly. While the general mode of polymerization is conserved between the two structures, the precise molecular details of the interactions differ, consistent with these matrix proteins binding different cellular factors during infection.