Obituary for Dame Louise Napier Johnson.
Enterovirus 71 (EV71), a major agent of hand-foot-and-mouth disease in children, can cause severe central nervous system disease and mortality. At present no vaccine or antiviral therapy is available. We have determined high-resolution structures for the mature virus and natural empty particles. The structure of the mature virus is similar to that of other enteroviruses, whilst the empty particles are dramatically expanded, with notable fissures, resembling elusive enterovirus uncoating intermediates not previously characterized in atomic detail. Hydrophobic capsid pockets within the EV71 capsid are collapsed in this expanded particle, providing a detailed explanation of the mechanism for receptor-binding triggered virus uncoating. The results provide a paradigm for enterovirus uncoating, in which the VP1 GH loop acts as an adaptor-sensor for the attachment of cellular receptors, converting heterologous inputs to a generic uncoating mechanism, spotlighting novel points for therapeutic intervention.
► A plate-based assay for virus measuring virus stability. ► Two fluorescent dyes measure independently but simultaneously capsid stability and capsid protein stability. ► A fast and efficient high-throughput method to optimise vaccine formulation. ► Facilitates the dissection of virus uncoating.
Standard methods for assessing the thermal stability of viruses can be time consuming and rather qualitative yet such data is a necessary requisite for vaccine formulation. In this study a novel plate-based thermal scanning assay for virus particle stability has been developed (PaSTRy: Particle Stability Thermal Release Assay). Two environment-sensitive fluorescent dyes, with non-overlapping emission spectra and different affinities, are used to accrue simultaneously independent data for the overall stability of the virus capsid, as judged by the exposure of the genome, and for capsid protein stability according to the exposure of hydrophobic side chains which are normally buried. This offers a fast and efficient high-throughput method to optimise vaccine formulation and to investigate the processes of virus uncoating.
High-throughput; Virus stability; Vaccine formulation
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
As obligate parasites, viruses are required to enter and replicate within their host, a process which employs many of their proteins to hijack natural cellular processes. High resolution X-ray crystallographic analysis has proven to be an ideal method to visualize the mechanisms by which such virus-host interactions occur and has revealed the innovative capacity of viruses to adapt efficiently to their hosts. In this review, we draw upon recently elucidated paramyxovirus-, arenavirus-, and poxvirus-host protein complex crystal structures to reveal both the capacity of viruses to appropriate one component of a physiological protein–protein binding event (often modifying it to out-compete the host-protein), and the ability to utilize novel binding sites on host cell surface receptors. The structures discussed shed light on a number of biological processes ranging from viral entry to virulence and host antagonism. Drawn together they reveal the common strategies which viruses have evolved to interact with their natural host. The structures also support molecular level rationales for how viruses can be transmitted to unrelated organisms and thus pose severe health risks.
Glycoprotein structure; Virus entry; Cell signaling; X-ray crystallography; Cell surface receptors; GAP, GTPase-activating protein; IPT, Ig-like plexins and transcription factors; HeV, Hendra virus; HeV-G, Hendra virus attachment glycoprotein; HNV, Henipavirus; HNV-G, Henipavirus attachment glycoprotein; NiV, Nipah virus; NiV-G, Nipah virus attachment glycoprotein; MACV, Machupo virus; PDB, protein databank; PSI, plexin-semaphrorin-integrin domain; r.m.s.d., root mean square deviation; Tf, transferrin; TfR1, transferrin receptor 1; SLAM, Signaling Lymphocytic Activation Molecule; SPINE, Structural Proteomics In Europe
Traditional mammalian expression systems rely on the time-consuming generation of stable cell lines; this is difficult to accommodate within a modern structural biology pipeline. Transient transfections are a fast, cost-effective solution, but require skilled cell culture scientists, making man-power a limiting factor in a setting where numerous samples are processed in parallel. Here we report a strategy employing a customised CompacT SelecT cell culture robot allowing the large-scale expression of multiple protein constructs in a transient format. Successful protocols have been designed for automated transient transfection of human embryonic kidney (HEK) 293T and 293S GnTI− cells in various flask formats. Protein yields obtained by this method were similar to those produced manually, with the added benefit of reproducibility, regardless of user. Automation of cell maintenance and transient transfection allows the expression of high quality recombinant protein in a completely sterile environment with limited support from a cell culture scientist. The reduction in human input has the added benefit of enabling continuous cell maintenance and protein production, features of particular importance to structural biology laboratories, which typically use large quantities of pure recombinant proteins, and often require rapid characterisation of a series of modified constructs. This automated method for large scale transient transfection is now offered as a Europe-wide service via the P-cube initiative.
Automated tissue culture; Eukaryotic expression system; HEK 293 cells; Transient transfection; HYPERFlask
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 Protein Information Management System (PiMS) is a laboratory information management system (LIMS) designed for use with the production of proteins in a research environment. The software is distributed under the CCP4 licence, and so is available free of charge to academic laboratories. Like most LIMS, the underlying PiMS data model originally had no support for protein–protein complexes. To support the SPINE2-Complexes project the developers have extended PiMS to meet these requirements. The modifications to PiMS, described here, include data model changes, additional protocols, some user interface changes and functionality to detect when an experiment may have formed a complex. Example data are shown for the production of a crystal of a protein complex. Integration with SPINE2-Complexes Target Tracker application is also described.
Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS); Informatics; Data management; Data model; Protein complex
A major advance in protein structure determination has been the advent of nanolitre-scale crystallization and (in a high-throughput environment) the development of robotic systems for storing and imaging crystallization trials. Most of these trials are carried out in 96-well (or higher density) plates and managing them is a significant information management challenge. We describe xtalPiMS, a web-based application for the management and monitoring of crystallization trials. xtalPiMS has a user-interface layer based on the standards of the Protein Information Management System (PiMS) and a database layer which links the crystallization trial images to the meta-data associated with a particular crystallization trial. The user interface has been optimized for the efficient monitoring of high-throughput environments with three different automated imagers and work to support a fourth imager is in progress, but it can even be of use without robotics. The database can either be a PiMS database or a legacy database for which a suitable mapping layer has been developed.
Laboratory Information Management Systems (LIMS); Protein crystallization; Robotic imagers; Java web application; Data management and databases
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 α-mannosidase I inhibitor kifunensine inhibited N-glycan processing in long-term cultures of Chinese hamster ovary cells, allowing deglycosylation and crystallization of the homodimeric extracellular region of the inhibitory glycoprotein receptor CTLA-4 (CD152).
Glycoproteins present problems for structural analysis since they often have to be glycosylated in order to fold correctly and because their chemical and conformational heterogeneity generally inhibits crystallization. It is shown that the α-mannosidase I inhibitor kifunensine, which has previously been used for the purpose of glycoprotein crystallization in short-term (3–5 d) cultures, is apparently stable enough to be used to produce highly endoglycosidase H-sensitive glycoprotein in long-term (3–4 week) cultures of stably transfected Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry-based analysis of the extracellular region of the cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4 (CTLA-4; CD152) homodimer expressed in long-term CHO cell cultures in the presence of kifunensine revealed that the inhibitor restricted CTLA-4 glycan processing to Man9GlcNAc2 and Man5GlcNAc2 structures. Complex-type glycans were undetectable, suggesting that the inhibitor was active for the entire duration of the cultures. Endoglycosidase treatment of the homodimer yielded protein that readily formed orthorhombic crystals with unit-cell parameters a = 43.9, b = 51.5, c = 102.9 Å and space group P212121 that diffracted to Bragg spacings of 1.8 Å. The results indicate that kifunensine will be effective in most, if not all, transient and long-term mammalian cell-based expression systems.
kifunensine; glycoproteins; cytotoxic T-lymphocyte antigen 4
Mouse RANKL and its receptor RANK have been cloned, expressed and purified. Crystals of RANK alone and in complex with RANKL have been obtained from which diffraction data have been collected to 2.0 and 2.8 Å resolution, respectively.
The interaction between the TNF-family molecule receptor activator of NF-κB ligand (RANKL) and its receptor RANK induces osteoclast formation, activation and survival in the process of bone remodelling. RANKL–RANK also plays critical roles in T-cell/dendritic cell communication and lymph-node formation and in a variety of pathologic conditions such as tumour-cell migration and bone metastasis. Both the ectodomain of mouse RANKL and the extracellular domain of mouse RANK have been cloned, expressed and purified. Crystals of RANK alone and of RANK in complex with RANKL have been obtained that are suitable for structure determination.
RANK; RANKL; OPG; RANKL–RANK complex; TNF superfamily
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
► Efficient expression of FMDV empty capsids in insect cells after moderation of 3C protease action. ► Expression cassette productive in multiple insect cell lines. ► Empty capsids visualised by transmission electron microscopy. ► Empty capsids react with wide range of positive sera as well as authentic virus. ► Efficient empty capsid synthesis may allow development as a vaccine.
Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) is a significant economically and distributed globally pathogen of Artiodactyla. Current vaccines are chemically inactivated whole virus particles that require large-scale virus growth in strict bio-containment with the associated risks of accidental release or incomplete inactivation. Non-infectious empty capsids are structural mimics of authentic particles with no associated risk and constitute an alternate vaccine candidate. Capsids self-assemble from the processed virus structural proteins, VP0, VP3 and VP1, which are released from the structural protein precursor P1-2A by the action of the virus-encoded 3C protease. To date recombinant empty capsid assembly has been limited by poor expression levels, restricting the development of empty capsids as a viable vaccine. Here expression of the FMDV structural protein precursor P1-2A in insect cells is shown to be efficient but linkage of the cognate 3C protease to the C-terminus reduces expression significantly. Inactivation of the 3C enzyme in a P1-2A-3C cassette allows expression and intermediate levels of 3C activity resulted in efficient processing of the P1-2A precursor into the structural proteins which assembled into empty capsids. Expression was independent of the insect host cell background and leads to capsids that are recognised as authentic by a range of anti-FMDV bovine sera suggesting their feasibility as an alternate vaccine.
Foot-and-mouth disease virus; Recombinant baculovirus; Empty capsids; Protein processing; Frameshift; 3C protease; Vaccine
We report the first crystal structures of a penicillin-binding protein (PBP), PBP3, from Pseudomonas aeruginosa in native form and covalently linked to two important β-lactam antibiotics, carbenicillin and ceftazidime. Overall, the structures of apo and acyl complexes are very similar; however, variations in the orientation of the amino-terminal membrane-proximal domain relative to that of the carboxy-terminal transpeptidase domain indicate interdomain flexibility. Binding of either carbenicillin or ceftazidime to purified PBP3 increases the thermostability of the enzyme significantly and is associated with local conformational changes, which lead to a narrowing of the substrate-binding cleft. The orientations of the two β-lactams in the active site and the key interactions formed between the ligands and PBP3 are similar despite differences in the two drugs, indicating a degree of flexibility in the binding site. The conserved binding mode of β-lactam-based inhibitors appears to extend to other PBPs, as suggested by a comparison of the PBP3/ceftazidime complex and the Escherichia coli PBP1b/ceftoxamine complex. Since P. aeruginosa is an important human pathogen, the structural data reveal the mode of action of the frontline antibiotic ceftazidime at the molecular level. Improved drugs to combat infections by P. aeruginosa and related Gram-negative bacteria are sought and our study provides templates to assist that process and allows us to discuss new ways of inhibiting PBPs.
PBP, penicillin-binding protein; HMM, high molecular mass; LMM, low molecular mass; PDB, Protein Data Bank; ESRF, European Synchrotron Radiation Facility; anti-bacterial; Pseudomonas aeruginosa; carbenicillin; ceftazidime; enzyme structure
The inhibitory T-cell surface-expressed receptor, cytotoxic T lymphocyte-associated antigen-4 (CTLA-4), which belongs to the class of cell surface proteins phosphorylated by extrinsic tyrosine kinases that also includes antigen receptors, binds the related ligands, B7-1 and B7-2, expressed on antigen-presenting cells. Conformational changes are commonly invoked to explain ligand-induced “triggering” of this class of receptors. Crystal structures of ligand-bound CTLA-4 have been reported, but not the apo form, precluding analysis of the structural changes accompanying ligand binding. The 1.8-Å resolution structure of an apo human CTLA-4 homodimer emphasizes the shared evolutionary history of the CTLA-4/CD28 subgroup of the immunoglobulin superfamily and the antigen receptors. The ligand-bound and unbound forms of both CTLA-4 and B7-1 are remarkably similar, in marked contrast to B7-2, whose binding to CTLA-4 has elements of induced fit. Isothermal titration calorimetry reveals that ligand binding by CTLA-4 is enthalpically driven and accompanied by unfavorable entropic changes. The similarity of the thermodynamic parameters determined for the interactions of CTLA-4 with B7-1 and B7-2 suggests that the binding is not highly specific, but the conformational changes observed for B7-2 binding suggest some level of selectivity. The new structure establishes that rigid-body ligand interactions are capable of triggering CTLA-4 phosphorylation by extrinsic kinase(s).
Cell Surface Receptor; Crystal Structure; Phosphotyrosine Receptor; Receptor Structure-Function; Signal Transduction; Conformational Change; Receptor Triggering
Hendra virus is a negative-sense single-stranded RNA virus within the Paramyxoviridae family which, together with Nipah virus, forms the Henipavirus genus. Infection with bat-borne Hendra virus leads to a disease with high mortality rates in humans. We determined the crystal structure of the unliganded six-bladed β-propeller domain and compared it to the previously reported structure of Hendra virus attachment glycoprotein (HeV-G) in complex with its cellular receptor, ephrin-B2. As observed for the related unliganded Nipah virus structure, there is plasticity in the Glu579-Pro590 and Lys236-Ala245 ephrin-binding loops prior to receptor engagement. These data reveal that henipaviral attachment glycoproteins undergo common structural transitions upon receptor binding and further define the structural template for antihenipaviral drug design. Our analysis also provides experimental evidence for a dimeric arrangement of HeV-G that exhibits striking similarity to those observed in crystal structures of related paramyxovirus receptor-binding glycoproteins. The biological relevance of this dimer is further supported by the positional analysis of glycosylation sites from across the paramyxoviruses. In HeV-G, the sites lie away from the putative dimer interface and remain accessible to α-mannosidase processing on oligomerization. We therefore propose that the overall mode of dimer assembly is conserved for all paramyxoviruses; however, while the geometry of dimerization is rather closely similar for those viruses that bind flexible glycan receptors, significant (up to 60°) and different reconfigurations of the subunit packing (associated with a significant decrease in the size of the dimer interface) have accompanied the independent switching to high-affinity protein receptor binding in Hendra and measles viruses.
Members within the paramyxovirus subfamily Paramyxovirinae constitute a large number of highly virulent human and animal pathogens. The glycoproteins present on these viruses are responsible for mediating host cell attachment and fusion and are key targets for the design of antiviral entry inhibitors. In the present review, we discuss recent structural studies which have led to a better understanding of the various mechanisms by which different paramyxoviruses use their attachment glycoproteins to hijack specific protein and glycan cell-surface receptors to facilitate viral entry. It is observed that the paramyxovirus attachment glycoprotein consists of a conserved overall structure which includes an N-terminal six-bladed β-propeller domain which is responsible for cell receptor binding. Crystal structures of this domain from different biomedically important paramyxoviruses, including measles, Nipah, Hendra, Newcastle disease and parainfluenza viruses, alone and in complex with their functional cell-surface receptors, demonstrate three contrasting mechanisms of receptor engagement that paramyxoviruses have evolved to confer discreet protein- and glycan-receptor specificity. This structural information highlights the adaptability of the paramyxovirus attachment glycoprotein surface and the potential for the emergence of new and potentially harmful viruses in human hosts.
paramyxovirus; protein crystallography; structural virology; viral glycoprotein; virus entry; DANA, 2,3-dehydro-2-deoxy-N-acetylneuraminic acid; F, fusion glycoprotein; G, attachment glycoprotein; H, haemagglutinin; HeV, Hendra virus; HN, haemagglutinin-neuraminidase; HNV, henipavirus; MV, measles virus; NDV, Newcastle disease virus; PIV, parainfluenza virus; NiV, Nipah virus; r.m.s.d., root mean square deviation; SCR, short consensus repeat; SLAM, signalling lymphocyte activation molecule
The full length and the regulatory domain of the LysR-type transcriptional regulator CrgA have been crystallized. Diffraction data were collected from two crystal forms of full-length CrgA to 3.0 and 3.8 Å resolution, respectively. Crystals of the selenomethionine derivative of the C-terminal regulatory domain of CrgA diffracted to 2.3 Å resolution.
Although LysR-type regulators (LTTRs) represent the largest family of transcriptional regulators in bacteria, the full-length structure of only one annotated LTTR (CbnR) has been deposited in the PDB. CrgA, a LTTR from pathogenic Neisseria meningitidis MC58, which is up-regulated upon bacterial cell contact with human epithelial cells, has been cloned, purified and crystallized. Crystals of full-length CrgA were obtained after buffer screening with a thermal shift assay and concentration with 0.2 M NDSB-256. Data were collected from two crystal forms of full-length CrgA belonging to space groups P212121 and P21, diffracting to 3.0 and 3.8 Å resolution and consistent with the presence of between six and ten and between ten and 20 copies of CrgA in the asymmetric unit, respectively. In addition, diffraction data were collected to 2.3 Å resolution from the selenomethionine derivative of the regulatory domain of CrgA. The crystals belonged to space group P21 and contained two molecules in the asymmetric unit.
CrgA; Neisseria meningitidis; LysR-type regulators
We present the crystal structure of an immunoglobulin light-chain-like domain, CTLA-4, as a strand-swapped dimer displaying cis–trans proline isomerisation and native-like hydrogen bonding. We also show that CTLA-4 can form amyloid-like fibres and amorphous deposits explainable by the same strand swapping. Our results suggest a molecular basis for the pathological aggregation of immunoglobulin domains and why amyloid-like fibres are more often composed of homologous rather than heterologous subunits.
IgSF, Ig superfamily; TFE, 2,2,2-trifluoroethanol; PBS, phosphate-buffered saline; CTLA-4; X-ray crystallography; protein aggregation assays; electron microscopy; amyloid
Despite the existence of over 50 subtypes and circulating recombinant forms of human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1), subtype-C dominates the heterosexual pandemic causing 56% of all infections.
To evaluate whether viral genetic factors may contribute to the observed subtype-C predominance.
Chimeric viruses were generated using V1-V3 envelope fragments from a subtype-A/C dually-infected woman with preferential genital replication of subtype-C. Viral adaptation, spread and cell fusion ability were evaluated in vitro using peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and HeLa-CD4-CCR5 cell lines, sequencing and cloning. Structural modeling was performed using a crystal structure of gp120-CD4-X5. Phylogenetic analysis was done using subtype-A, -B and -C sequences from blood and cervix of 37 infected women and database sequences.
We identified two envelope motifs, compact V1-V2 loops and V3-316T, which are found at high frequency throughout subtype-C evolution, and affect gp120 interactions with CD4 and CCR5, respectively. When a V1-Δ5 deletion or V3-A316T was incorporated into subtype-A, each increased viral fusion and spread in PBMC and cell-lines with low CCR5-expression several fold. Structural modeling suggested the formation of an additional hydrogen bond between V3 and CCR5. Moreover, we found preferential selection of HIV with 316T and/or extremely short V1-V2 loops in cervices of three women infected with subtype-A/C, -B or −C.
As CD4+-CCR5+-T-cells are key targets for genital HIV infection, and cervical selection can favor compact V1-V2 loops and 316T, which increase viral infectivity, we propose that these conserved subtype-C motifs may contribute to transmission and spread of this subtype.
HIV-1; subtype-C; subtype-A; evolution; CCR5; cervix; transmission; phylogeny
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.