Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) is an emerging RNA virus with devastating economic and social consequences. Clinically, RVFV induces a gamut of symptoms ranging from febrile illness to retinitis, hepatic necrosis, hemorrhagic fever, and death. It is known that type I interferon (IFN) responses can be protective against severe pathology; however, it is unknown which innate immune receptor pathways are crucial for mounting this response. Using both in vitro assays and in vivo mucosal mouse challenge, we demonstrate here that RNA helicases are critical for IFN production by immune cells and that signaling through the helicase adaptor molecule MAVS (mitochondrial antiviral signaling) is protective against mortality and more subtle pathology during RVFV infection. In addition, we demonstrate that Toll-like-receptor-mediated signaling is not involved in IFN production, further emphasizing the importance of the RNA cellular helicases in type I IFN responses to RVFV.
Type 1 diabetes results from autoimmune destruction of the insulin producing pancreatic β-cells. The immunoproteasome, a version of the proteasome that collaborates with the 11S/PA28 activator to generate immunogenic peptides for presentation by MHC class I molecules, has long been implicated in the onset of the disease, but little is known about immunoproteasome function and regulation in pancreatic β-cells. Interesting insight into these issues comes from a recent analysis of the immunoproteasome expressed in pancreatic β-cells during early antiviral defenses mediated by interferon β (IFNβ), a type I IFN implicated in the induction of the diabetic state in human and animal models. Using mouse islets and the MIN6 insulinoma cell line, Freudenburg et al. found that IFNβ stimulates expression of the immunoproteasome and the 11S/PA28 activator in a manner fundamentally similar to the classic immuno-inducer IFNγ, with similar timing of mRNA accumulation and decline; similar transcriptional activation mediated primarily by the IRF1 and similar mRNA and protein levels. Furthermore, neither IFNβ nor IFNγ altered the expression of regular proteolytic subunits or prevented their incorporation into proteolytic cores. As a result, immunoproteasomes had stochastic combinations of immune and regular proteolytic sites, an arrangement that would likely increase the probability with which unique immunogenic peptides are produced. However, immunoproteasomes were activated by the 11S/PA28 only under conditions of ATP depletion. A mechanism that prevents the activation of immunoproteasome at high ATP levels has not been reported before and could have a major regulatory significance, as it could suppress the generation of immunogenic peptides as cell accumulate immunoproteasome and 11S/PA28, and activate antigen processing only when ATP levels drop. We discuss implications of these new findings on the link between early antiviral response and the onset of type 1 diabetes.
Immunoproteasome; Autoantigen; Type 1 diabetes; Pancreatic β-cells; IFNβ; IFNγ; MIN6 cells; Mouse islets
Protection of the human lung from infectious agents, allergens, and ultrafine particles is difficult with current technologies. High-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters remove airborne particles of >0.3 μm with 99.97% efficiency, but they are expensive to maintain. Electrostatic precipitation has been used as an inexpensive approach to remove large particles from airflows, but it has a collection efficiency minimum in the submicrometer size range, allowing for a penetration window for some allergens and ultrafine particles. Incorporating soft X-ray irradiation as an in situ component of the electrostatic precipitation process greatly improves capture efficiency of ultrafine particles. Here we demonstrate the removal and inactivation capabilities of soft-X-ray-enhanced electrostatic precipitation technology targeting infectious agents (Bacillus anthracis, Mycobacterium bovis BCG, and poxviruses), allergens, and ultrafine particles. Incorporation of in situ soft X-ray irradiation at low-intensity corona conditions resulted in (i) 2-fold to 9-fold increase in capture efficiency of 200- to 600-nm particles and (ii) a considerable delay in the mean day of death as well as lower overall mortality rates in ectromelia virus (ECTV) cohorts. At the high-intensity corona conditions, nearly complete protection from viral and bacterial respiratory infection was afforded to the murine models for all biological agents tested. When optimized for combined efficient particle removal with limited ozone production, this technology could be incorporated into stand-alone indoor air cleaners or scaled for installation in aircraft cabin, office, and residential heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems.
In 2001, Jackson et al. reported that murine IL-4 expression by a recombinant ectromelia virus caused enhanced morbidity and lethality in resistant C57BL/6 mice as well as overcame protective immune memory responses. To achieve a more thorough understanding of this phenomenon, and to asses a variety of countermeasures, we constructed a series of ECTV recombinants encoding murine IL-4 under the control of promoters of different strengths and temporal regulation. We showed that the ECTV-IL-4 recombinant expressing the highest level of IL-4 was uniformly lethal for C57BL/6 mice even when previously immunized. The lethality of the ECTV-IL-4 recombinants resulted from virus-expressed IL-4 signaling through the IL-4 receptor, but was not due to IL-4 toxicity. A number of treatment approaches were evaluated against the most virulent IL-4 encoding virus. The most efficacious therapy was a combination of two antiviral drugs (CMX001® and ST-246®) that have different mechanisms of action.
immunosuppression; poxvirus; ectromelia virus; lethal infection; IL-4
Src family kinases (SFKs) are non-receptor tyrosine kinases that have been implicated as regulators of the inflammatory response. In this study, the role of SFK activation in the inflammatory response of macrophages to encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) infection was examined. Virus infection of macrophages stimulates the expression of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), interleukin (IL)-1β and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). Inhibition of SFK attenuates EMCV-induced COX-2 expression and prostaglandin E2 production, iNOS expression and subsequent nitric oxide production, and IL-1β expression. EMCV-induced COX-2 expression requires the activation of nuclear factor-κB and the mitogen-activated protein kinase p38. Consistent with these previous findings, inhibition of SFKs attenuated the phosphorylation of p38 in response to EMCV infection, suggesting that SFKs may act upstream of p38. These findings provide evidence that SFK activation plays an active role in the regulation of inflammatory gene expression by virus-infected macrophages.
Poxviruses produce complement regulatory proteins to subvert the host's immune response. Similar to the human pathogen variola virus, ectromelia virus has a limited host range and provides a mouse model where the virus and the host's immune response have coevolved. We previously demonstrated that multiple components (C3, C4, and factor B) of the classical and alternative pathways are required to survive ectromelia virus infection. Complement's role in the innate and adaptive immune responses likely drove the evolution of a virus-encoded virulence factor that regulates complement activation. In this study, we characterized the ectromelia virus inhibitor of complement enzymes (EMICE). Recombinant EMICE regulated complement activation on the surface of CHO cells, and it protected complement-sensitive intracellular mature virions (IMV) from neutralization in vitro. It accomplished this by serving as a cofactor for the inactivation of C3b and C4b and by dissociating the catalytic domain of the classical pathway C3 convertase. Infected murine cells initiated synthesis of EMICE within 4 to 6 h postinoculation. The levels were sufficient in the supernatant to protect the IMV, upon release, from complement-mediated neutralization. EMICE on the surface of infected murine cells also reduced complement activation by the alternative pathway. In contrast, classical pathway activation by high-titer antibody overwhelmed EMICE's regulatory capacity. These results suggest that EMICE's role is early during infection when it counteracts the innate immune response. In summary, ectromelia virus produced EMICE within a few hours of an infection, and EMICE in turn decreased complement activation on IMV and infected cells.
Virus infection of macrophages stimulates the expression of proinflammatory and antiviral genes interleukin-1 (IL-1), inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) and cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2). In this study, we show that phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) is required for the inflammatory response of macrophages to virus infection. When macrophages are infected with encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) there is a rapid and transient activation of PI3K and phosphorylation of its downstream target Akt. Inhibitors of PI3K attenuate EMCV- and double-stranded RNA-induced iNOS, COX-2 and IL-1β expression in RAW264.7 cells and mouse peritoneal macrophages. The attenuation of inflammatory gene expression in response to PI3K inhibition correlates with the induction of macrophage apoptosis. The morphology of macrophages shifts from activation in response to EMCV infection to apoptosis in the cells treated with PI3K inhibitors and EMCV. These morphological changes are accompanied by the activation of caspase-3. These findings suggest that PI3K plays a central role in the regulation of macrophage responses to EMCV infection. When PI3K is activated, it participates in the regulation of inflammatory gene expression; however, if PI3K is inhibited macrophages are unable to mount an inflammatory antiviral response and die by apoptosis.
Inflammation; Innate immunity; Macrophages; Nitric oxide; Virus infection
Suitable animal models are needed to study monkeypox virus (MPXV) as human monkeypox clinically resembles smallpox and MPXV is a zoonotic and potential bioterroristic agent. We have demonstrated that a species of African dormice, Graphiurus kelleni, is susceptible to a lethal infection of MPXV and that MPXV replicated in multiple organs of this species. Following intranasal administration, MPXV replicated locally in the nasal mucosa causing necrosis and hemorrhage with subsequent systemic spread to lymph nodes, spleen, liver, and other tissues where it caused severe necrosis and/or hemorrhage leading to death. The dormouse model was validated for testing prophylactic (Dryvax vaccine) and therapeutic (cidofovir) test articles against intranasal challenges with MPXV.
monkeypox virus; MPXV-ZAI-79; Graphiurus kelleni; dormouse; Dryvax; cidofovir; smallpox; variola
Poxviruses subvert the host immune response by producing immunomodulatory proteins, including a complement regulatory protein. Ectromelia virus provides a mouse model for smallpox where the virus and the host's immune response have co-evolved. Using this model, our study investigated the role of the complement system during a poxvirus infection. By multiple inoculation routes, ectromelia virus caused increased mortality by 7 to 10 days post-infection in C57BL/6 mice that lack C3, the central component of the complement cascade. In C3−/− mice, ectromelia virus disseminated earlier to target organs and generated higher peak titers compared to the congenic controls. Also, increased hepatic inflammation and necrosis correlated with these higher tissue titers and likely contributed to the morbidity in the C3−/− mice. In vitro, the complement system in naïve C57BL/6 mouse sera neutralized ectromelia virus, primarily through the recognition of the virion by natural antibody and activation of the classical and alternative pathways. Sera deficient in classical or alternative pathway components or antibody had reduced ability to neutralize viral particles, which likely contributed to increased viral dissemination and disease severity in vivo. The increased mortality of C4−/− or Factor B−/− mice also indicates that these two pathways of complement activation are required for survival. In summary, the complement system acts in the first few minutes, hours, and days to control this poxviral infection until the adaptive immune response can react, and loss of this system results in lethal infection.
As one of the most successful pathogens ever, smallpox caused death and disfigurement worldwide until its eradication in the 1970s. The complement system, an essential part of the innate immune response, protects against many pathogens; however, its role during smallpox infection is unclear. In this study, we investigated the importance of the complement system in mousepox infection as a model for human smallpox disease. We compared mice with and without genetic deficiencies in complement following infection by multiple routes with ectromelia virus, the causative agent of mousepox. Deficiencies in several complement proteins reduced survival of ectromelia infection. Sera from these same complement-deficient mice also have reduced ability to neutralize ectromelia virus in vitro. In complement-deficient mice, ectromelia virus disseminated from the inoculation site earlier and produced higher levels of virus in the bloodstream, spleen, and liver. The increased infection in the liver resulted in greater tissue damage. We hypothesize that the complement-deficient mice's reduced ability to neutralize ectromelia virus at the inoculation site resulted in earlier dissemination and more severe disease. We have demonstrated that surviving ectromelia virus infection requires the complement system, which suggests that this system may also protect against smallpox infection.
Vaccinia virus (VV) membrane proteins are candidates for orthopoxvirus subunit vaccines and potential targets for therapeutic antibodies. Human antibody responses to these proteins following VV vaccination have not been well characterized.
Pre- and day 26−30 post-vaccination sera from 80 VV vaccine recipients were examined for anti-B5, -A33, -A27, and -L1 specific IgG antibodies by enzyme-linked immunoassay (ELISA). Responses were compared between vaccinia-naïve and previously vaccinated (non-naïve) recipients, and between non-naïve recipients of undiluted and 1:10 diluted vaccine.
VV vaccination elicited anti-A33 (100%) and -A27 (93%) antibodies in nearly all vaccinia-naïve subjects. Pre-existing antibodies were commonly detected in non-naïve subjects (anti-B5, 68%; -A33, 59%; -A27, 38%; -L1, 10%). Anti-B5 antibodies were strongly boosted by undiluted vaccine (geometric mean titer [GMT], 151 vs. 1010, p<0.001, pre- vs. post-vaccination, respectively), while anti-L1 antibody responses were less robust (31% detected, GMT, 75) in non-naïve subjects. Diluted vaccine elicited antibody responses that were similar to undiluted vaccine responses.
Vaccination with VV elicits long-lived specific antibody responses directed against VV membrane proteins that vary by previous vaccination status, but not by 10-fold dilution of vaccine. B5, A33 and A27 should be considered for inclusion in future human orthopoxvirus subunit vaccines.
Smallpox; vaccination; vaccinia virus
Natural killer (NK) cells play a pivotal role in the innate immune response to viral infections, particularly murine cytomegalovirus (MCMV) and human herpesviruses. In poxvirus infections, the role of NK cells is less clear. We examined disease progression in C57BL/6 mice after the removal of NK cells by both antibody depletion and genetic means. We found that NK cells were crucial for survival and the early control of virus replication in spleen and to a lesser extent in liver in C57BL/6 mice. Studies of various knockout mice suggested that γδ T cells and NKT cells are not important in the C57BL/6 mousepox model and CD4+ and CD8+ T cells do not exhibit antiviral activity at 6 days postinfection, when the absence of NK cells has a profound effect on virus titers in spleen and liver. NK cell cytotoxicity and/or gamma interferon (IFN-γ) secretion likely mediated the antiviral effect needed to control virus infectivity in target organs. Studies of the effects of ectromelia virus (ECTV) infection on NK cells demonstrated that NK cells proliferate within target tissues (spleen and liver) and become activated following a low-dose footpad infection, although the mechanism of activation appears distinct from the ligand-dependent activation observed with MCMV. NK cell IFN-γ secretion was detected by intracellular cytokine staining transiently at 32 to 72 h postinfection in the lymph node, suggesting a role in establishing a Th1 response. These results confirm a crucial role for NK cells in controlling an ECTV infection.
The orthopoxviruses ectromelia virus (ECTV) and vaccinia virus (VACV) express secreted gamma interferon binding proteins (IFN-γBPs) with homology to the ligand binding domains of the host's IFN-γ receptor (IFN-γR1). Homology between these proteins is limited to the extracellular portions of the IFN-γR1 and the first ∼200 amino acids of the IFN-γBPs. The remaining 60 amino acids at the C termini of the IFN-γBPs contain a single cysteine residue shown to be important in covalent dimerization of the secreted proteins. The function of the remaining C-terminal domain (CTD) has remained elusive, yet this region is conserved within all orthopoxvirus IFN-γBPs. Using a series of C-terminal deletion constructs, we have determined that the CTD is essential for IFN-γ binding despite having no predicted homology to the IFN-γR1. Truncation of the ECTV IFN-γBP by more than two amino acid residues results in a complete loss of binding activity for both murine IFN-γ and human IFN-γ (hIFN-γ), as measured by surface plasmon resonance (SPR) and bioassay. Equivalent truncation of the VACV IFN-γBP resulted in comparable loss of hIFN-γ binding activity by SPR. Full-length IFN-γBPs were observed to form higher-ordered structures larger than the previously reported dimers. Mutants that were unable to bind IFN-γ with high affinity in SPR experiments failed to assemble into these higher-ordered structures and migrated as dimers. We conclude that the unique CTD of orthopoxvirus IFN-γBPs is important for the assembly of covalent homodimers as well as the assembly of higher-ordered structures essential for IFN-γ binding.
Vaccinia virus (VACV)-DUKE was isolated from a lesion on a 54 year old female who presented to a doctor at the Duke University Medical Center. She was diagnosed with progressive vaccinia and treated with vaccinia immune globulin. The availability of the VACV-DUKE genome sequence permits a first time genomic comparison of a VACV isolate associated with a smallpox vaccine complication with the sequence of culture-derived clonal isolates of the Dryvax vaccine.
This study showed that VACV-DUKE is most similar to VACV-ACAM2000 and CLONE3, two VACV clones isolated from the Dryvax® vaccine stock confirming VACV-DUKE as an isolate from Dryvax®. However, VACV-DUKE is unique because it is, to date, the only Dryvax® clone isolated from a patient experiencing a vaccine-associated complication. The 199,960 bp VACV-DUKE genome encodes 225 open reading frames, including 178 intact genes and 47 gene fragments. Between VACV-DUKE and the other Dryvax® isolates, the major genomic differences are in fragmentation of the ankyrin-like, and kelch-like genes, presence of a full-length Interferon-α/β receptor gene, and the absence of a duplication of 12 ORFs in the inverted terminal repeat. Excluding this region, the DNA sequence of VACV-DUKE differs from the other two Dryvax® isolates by less than 0.4%. DNA sequencing also indicated that there was little heterogeneity in the sample, supporting the hypothesis that virus from an individual lesion is clonal in origin despite the fact that the vaccine is a mixed population.
Virus in lesions that result from progressive vaccinia following vaccination with Dryvax are likely clonal in origin. The genomic sequence of VACV-DUKE is overall very similar to that of Dryvax® cell culture-derived clonal isolates. Furthermore, with the sequences of multiple clones from Dryvax® we can begin to appreciate the diversity of the viral population in the smallpox vaccine.
In this study, we provide evidence that the double-stranded RNA-dependent protein kinase (PKR) is not required for virus-induced expression of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) or the activation of specific signaling pathways in macrophages. The infection of RAW264.7 cells with encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) induces iNOS expression and nitric oxide production, which are unaffected by a dominant-negative mutant of PKR. EMCV infection also activates the mitogen-activated protein kinase, cyclic AMP response element binding protein, and nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) signaling cascades at 15 to 30 min postinfection in PKR+/+ and PKR−/− macrophages. Activation of these signaling cascades does not temporally correlate with PKR activity or the accumulation of EMCV RNA, suggesting that an interaction between a structural component of the virion and the cell surface may activate macrophages. Consistent with this hypothesis, empty EMCV capsids induced comparable levels of iNOS expression, nitrite production, and activation of these signaling cascades to those induced by intact virions. These findings support the hypothesis that virion-host cell interactions are primary mediators of the PKR-independent activation of signaling pathways that participate in the macrophage antiviral response of inflammatory gene expression.
Herpes simplex encephalitis (HSE) is a lethal neurological disease resulting from infection with Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV-1). Loss-of-function mutations in the UNC93B1, TLR3, TRIF, TRAF3, and TBK1 genes have been associated with a human genetic predisposition to HSE, demonstrating the UNC93B-TLR3-type I IFN pathway as critical in protective immunity to HSV-1. However, the TLR3, UNC93B1, and TRIF mutations exhibit incomplete penetrance and represent only a minority of HSE cases, perhaps reflecting the effects of additional host genetic factors. In order to identify new host genes, proteins and signaling pathways involved in HSV-1 and HSE susceptibility, we have implemented the first genome-wide mutagenesis screen in an in vivo HSV-1 infectious model. One pedigree (named P43) segregated a susceptible trait with a fully penetrant phenotype. Genetic mapping and whole exome sequencing led to the identification of the causative nonsense mutation L3X in the Receptor-type tyrosine-protein phosphatase C gene (PtprcL3X), which encodes for the tyrosine phosphatase CD45. Expression of MCP1, IL-6, MMP3, MMP8, and the ICP4 viral gene were significantly increased in the brain stems of infected PtprcL3X mice accounting for hyper-inflammation and pathological damages caused by viral replication. PtprcL3X mutation drastically affects the early stages of thymocytes development but also the final stage of B cell maturation. Transfer of total splenocytes from heterozygous littermates into PtprcL3X mice resulted in a complete HSV-1 protective effect. Furthermore, T cells were the only cell population to fully restore resistance to HSV-1 in the mutants, an effect that required both the CD4+ and CD8+ T cells and could be attributed to function of CD4+ T helper 1 (Th1) cells in CD8+ T cell recruitment to the site of infection. Altogether, these results revealed the CD45-mediated T cell function as potentially critical for infection and viral spread to the brain, and also for subsequent HSE development.
Herpes simplex encephalitis (HSE) is a lethal neurological disease resulting from infection with Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV-1). Previous studies have demonstrated a human genetic predisposition to HSE. However, the gene mutations that have been suggested as critical in protective immunity to HSV-1, exhibit incomplete penetrance and represent only a minority of HSE cases, perhaps reflecting the effects of additional host genetics factors. In order to identify new host genes involved in HSV-1 and HSE susceptibility, we have implemented the first genome-wide mutagenesis screen in an in vivo HSV-1 infectious model. Using this large-scale approach, we have identified a loss-of-function mutation in the Receptor-type tyrosine-protein phosphatase C (Ptprc) gene. Mice carrying this mutation were characterized by defects in thymic and B cell development. Following infection, these mutant mice exhibited hyper-inflammation in their brains stems caused by viral replication. Transfer of total lymphocytes from resistant into mutant mice resulted in a complete HSV-1 protective effect. Furthermore, T lymphocytes were the only cell population to fully restore resistance to HSV-1 in the mutants. These findings revealed the T cell function as potentially critical for infection and viral spread to the brain, as well as to subsequent HSE development.
Autoimmune destruction of insulin producing pancreatic β-cells is the hallmark of type I diabetes. One of the key molecules implicated in the disease onset is the immunoproteasome, a protease with multiple proteolytic sites that collaborates with the constitutive 19S and the inducible 11S (PA28) activators to produce immunogenic peptides for presentation by MHC class I molecules. Despite its importance, little is known about the function and regulation of the immunoproteasome in pancreatic β-cells. Of special interest to immunoproteasome activation in β-cells are the effects of IFNβ, a type I IFN secreted by virus-infected cells and implicated in type I diabetes onset, compared to IFNγ, the classic immunoproteasome inducer secreted by cells of the immune system. By qPCR analysis, we show that mouse insulinoma MIN6 cells and mouse islets accumulate the immune proteolytic β1i, β2i and β5i, and 11S mRNAs upon exposure to IFNβ or IFNγ. Higher concentrations of IFNβ than IFNγ are needed for similar expression, but in each case the expression is transient, with maximal mRNA accumulation in 12 hours, and depends primarily on Interferon Regulatory Factor 1. IFNs do not alter expression of regular proteasome genes, and in the time frame of IFNβ-mediated response, the immune and regular proteolytic subunits co-exist in the 20S particles. In cell extracts with ATP, these particles have normal peptidase activities and degrade polyubiquitinated proteins with rates typical of the regular proteasome, implicating normal regulation by the 19S activator. However, ATP depletion rapidly stimulates the catalytic rates in a manner consistent with levels of the 11S activator. These findings suggest that stochastic combination of regular and immune proteolytic subunits may increase the probability with which unique immunogenic peptides are produced in pancreatic β-cells exposed to IFNβ, but primarily in cells with reduced ATP levels that stimulate the 11S participation in immunoproteasome function.
Interleukin 18 (IL18) is a cytokine that plays an important role in inflammation as well as host defense against microbes. Mammals encode a soluble inhibitor of IL18 termed IL18 binding protein (IL18BP) that modulates IL18 activity through a negative feedback mechanism. Many poxviruses encode homologous IL18BPs, which contribute to virulence. Previous structural and functional studies on IL18 and IL18BPs revealed an essential binding hot spot involving a lysine on IL18 and two aromatic residues on IL18BPs. The aromatic residues are conserved among the very diverse mammalian and poxviruses IL18BPs with the notable exception of yatapoxvirus IL18BPs, which lack a critical phenylalanine residue. To understand the mechanism by which yatapoxvirus IL18BPs neutralize IL18, we solved the crystal structure of the Yaba-Like Disease Virus (YLDV) IL18BP and IL18 complex at 1.75 Å resolution. YLDV-IL18BP forms a disulfide bonded homo-dimer engaging IL18 in a 2∶2 stoichiometry, in contrast to the 1∶1 complex of ectromelia virus (ECTV) IL18BP and IL18. Disruption of the dimer interface resulted in a functional monomer, however with a 3-fold decrease in binding affinity. The overall architecture of the YLDV-IL18BP:IL18 complex is similar to that observed in the ECTV-IL18BP:IL18 complex, despite lacking the critical lysine-phenylalanine interaction. Through structural and mutagenesis studies, contact residues that are unique to the YLDV-IL18BP:IL18 binding interface were identified, including Q67, P116 of YLDV-IL18BP and Y1, S105 and D110 of IL18. Overall, our studies show that YLDV-IL18BP is unique among the diverse family of mammalian and poxvirus IL-18BPs in that it uses a bivalent binding mode and a unique set of interacting residues for binding IL18. However, despite this extensive divergence, YLDV-IL18BP binds to the same surface of IL18 used by other IL18BPs, suggesting that all IL18BPs use a conserved inhibitory mechanism by blocking a putative receptor-binding site on IL18.
Interleukin 18 (IL18) is an important cytokine in inflammation and immunity. Mammals and poxviruses encode homologous inhibitory proteins of IL18, named IL18BPs, which regulate IL18 activity and, in the case of the viral proteins, contribute to virulence. Previous structural and functional studies revealed residues at IL18:IL18BP interface that are critical for the high-affinity binding, including a phenylalanine on IL18BPs, which is conserved among nearly all IL18BPs with the notable exception of yatapoxvirus IL18BPs. To understand the mechanism by which yatapoxvirus IL18BPs neutralize IL18, we solved the high-resolution crystal structure of the Yaba-Like Disease Virus (YLDV) IL18BP:IL18 complex. The structure revealed a 2∶2 bivalent binding complex, which has not been observed in any other IL18BPs. Through mutagenesis and functional studies, we found a set of interacting residues that are unique for the association of YLDV-IL18BP and IL18, likely compensating for the lack of the interactions involving the conserved phenylalanine. Despite this extensive divergence, however, YLDV-IL18BP binds to the same surface of IL18 used by other IL18BPs. Our study suggests that all IL18BPs use a conserved inhibitory mechanism by blocking a putative receptor-binding site on IL18 but the interface on IL18 is malleable by a broad and diverse family of mammalian and poxvirus IL18BPs.
Recognition of viruses by pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) causes interferon-β (IFN-β) induction, a key event in the anti-viral innate immune response, and also a target of viral immune evasion. Here the vaccinia virus (VACV) protein C6 is identified as an inhibitor of PRR-induced IFN-β expression by a functional screen of select VACV open reading frames expressed individually in mammalian cells. C6 is a member of a family of Bcl-2-like poxvirus proteins, many of which have been shown to inhibit innate immune signalling pathways. PRRs activate both NF-κB and IFN regulatory factors (IRFs) to activate the IFN-β promoter induction. Data presented here show that C6 inhibits IRF3 activation and translocation into the nucleus, but does not inhibit NF-κB activation. C6 inhibits IRF3 and IRF7 activation downstream of the kinases TANK binding kinase 1 (TBK1) and IκB kinase-ε (IKKε), which phosphorylate and activate these IRFs. However, C6 does not inhibit TBK1- and IKKε-independent IRF7 activation or the induction of promoters by constitutively active forms of IRF3 or IRF7, indicating that C6 acts at the level of the TBK1/IKKε complex. Consistent with this notion, C6 immunoprecipitated with the TBK1 complex scaffold proteins TANK, SINTBAD and NAP1. C6 is expressed early during infection and is present in both nucleus and cytoplasm. Mutant viruses in which the C6L gene is deleted, or mutated so that the C6 protein is not expressed, replicated normally in cell culture but were attenuated in two in vivo models of infection compared to wild type and revertant controls. Thus C6 contributes to VACV virulence and might do so via the inhibition of PRR-induced activation of IRF3 and IRF7.
A key event in the innate immune response to virus infection is the detection of pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs) such as viral DNA and RNA by cellular pattern recognition receptors (PRRs). This leads to expression of interferon-β (IFN-β) by an infected cell. Many viruses have evolved mechanisms to evade the induction of IFN-β. Here a screen of poorly characterized vaccinia virus (VACV) proteins identified protein C6 as an inhibitor of IFN-β induction by PRRs. Data presented show that C6 prevents the activation of the transcription factors IRF3 and IRF7 by the kinases TBK1 and IKKε, which are key components at the point of convergence of several PRR signalling pathways. C6 interacts with the scaffold proteins NAP1, TANK and SINTBAD, which are components of the protein complexes containing TBK1 and IKKε, and this interaction might modulate the activity of these kinases. C6 is expressed early during infection and contributes to virulence because viruses that do not express C6 are attenuated in two in vivo models compared to wild type and revertant control viruses.
Pathogens have evolved sophisticated mechanisms to evade detection and destruction by the host immune system. Large DNA viruses encode homologues of chemokines and their receptors, as well as chemokine-binding proteins (CKBPs) to modulate the chemokine network in host response. The SECRET domain (smallpox virus-encoded chemokine receptor) represents a new family of viral CKBPs that binds a subset of chemokines from different classes to inhibit their activities, either independently or fused with viral tumor necrosis factor receptors (vTNFRs). Here we present the crystal structures of the SECRET domain of vTNFR CrmD encoded by ectromelia virus and its complex with chemokine CX3CL1. The SECRET domain adopts a β-sandwich fold and utilizes its β-sheet I surface to interact with CX3CL1, representing a new chemokine-binding manner of viral CKBPs. Structure-based mutagenesis and biochemical analysis identified important basic residues in the 40s loop of CX3CL1 for the interaction. Mutation of corresponding acidic residues in the SECRET domain also affected the binding for other chemokines, indicating that the SECRET domain binds different chemokines in a similar manner. We further showed that heparin inhibited the binding of CX3CL1 by the SECRET domain and the SECRET domain inhibited RAW264.7 cell migration induced by CX3CL1. These results together shed light on the structural basis for the SECRET domain to inhibit chemokine activities by interfering with both chemokine-GAG and chemokine-receptor interactions.
Chemokines are a family of small proteins that help the immune system fight against invading pathogens by inducing the white blood cells to the areas of infection and inflammation. Due to the important roles of chemokines in immune response, the pathogens evolve diverse mechanisms to neutralize their activities. One example is that large DNA viruses, such as poxviruses and herpesviruses can produce chemokine binding proteins (CKBPs) to sequester chemokines during the infection. The SECRET domain represents a new family of viral CKBPs that was originally identified as a C-terminal extension of the viral tumor necrosis factor receptors (vTNFRs). We determined the three-dimensional structures of the SECRET domain and its complex with chemokine CX3CL1, revealing a new chemokine-binding manner of viral CKBPs. We also showed that other chemokines from different classes may be bound by the SECRET domain in a way similar to that observed in the SECRET/CX3CL1 complex structure. Our biochemical and chemotaxis assays also suggest that the SECRET domain is able to interfere with both chemokine-GAG and chemokine-receptor interactions, both of which are essential for chemokine activities in vivo.
HSV-1 is the leading cause of sporadic encephalitis in humans. HSV infection of susceptible 129S6 mice results in fatal encephalitis (HSE) caused by massive inflammatory brainstem lesions comprising monocytes and neutrophils. During infection with pathogenic microorganisms or autoimmune disease, IgGs induce proinflammatory responses and recruit innate effector cells. In contrast, high dose intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIG) are an effective treatment for various autoimmune and inflammatory diseases because of potent anti-inflammatory effects stemming in part from sialylated IgGs (sIgG) present at 1–3% in IVIG. We investigated the ability of IVIG to prevent fatal HSE when given 24 h post infection. We discovered a novel anti-inflammatory pathway mediated by low-dose IVIG that protected 129S6 mice from fatal HSE by modulating CNS inflammation independently of HSV specific antibodies or sIgG. IVIG suppressed CNS infiltration by pathogenic CD11b+ Ly6Chigh monocytes and inhibited their spontaneous degranulation in vitro. FcγRIIb expression was required for IVIG mediated suppression of CNS infiltration by CD45+ Ly6Clow monocytes but not for inhibiting development of Ly6Chigh monocytes. IVIG increased accumulation of T cells in the CNS, and the non-sIgG fraction induced a dramatic expansion of FoxP3+ CD4+ T regulatory cells (Tregs) and FoxP3− ICOS+ CD4+ T cells in peripheral lymphoid organs. Tregs purified from HSV infected IVIG treated, but not control, mice protected adoptively transferred mice from fatal HSE. IL-10, produced by the ICOS+ CD4+ T cells that accumulated in the CNS of IVIG treated, but not control mice, was essential for induction of protective anti-inflammatory responses. Our results significantly enhance understanding of IVIG's anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory capabilities by revealing a novel sIgG independent anti-inflammatory pathway responsible for induction of regulatory T cells that secrete the immunosuppressive cytokine IL-10 and further reveal the therapeutic potential of IVIG for treating viral induced inflammatory diseases.
We show that fatal HSV encephalitis (HSE) is caused by excessive brainstem inflammation. Once brainstem inflammation is initiated, antiviral drugs that inhibit only viral replication are ineffective in protecting against fatal HSE. Infusion of high doses of pooled human IgG (IVIG) is an effective anti-inflammatory treatment for various autoimmune diseases. One anti-inflammatory mechanism depends on sialylated IgGs (sIgG) present in limiting amounts (1–3%) in IVIG, hence the need for high doses of IVIG. We discovered a novel anti-inflammatory pathway mediated by low doses of IVIG independent of sIgG that prevented fatal HSE by suppressing CNS inflammation. The non-sIgG fraction of IVIG induced regulatory CD4+ T cells that produced the immunosuppressive cytokine IL-10 in the brainstem. Importantly, we show that IL-10 is critical for suppressing the generation of pathogenic inflammatory macrophages. Thus, IVIG has a remarkable ability to balance the host inflammatory responses to virus infection and thereby promotes virus clearance without bystander damage to the CNS, accounting for survival of all infected mice. Overall, our results provide important new insights in understanding IVIG's anti-inflammatory activity and further reveal its potential for use in treatment of viral inflammatory diseases.
Vaccinia virus (VACV) uses microtubules for export of virions to the cell surface and this process requires the viral protein F12. Here we show that F12 has structural similarity to kinesin light chain (KLC), a subunit of the kinesin-1 motor that binds cargo. F12 and KLC share similar size, pI, hydropathy and cargo-binding tetratricopeptide repeats (TPRs). Moreover, molecular modeling of F12 TPRs upon the crystal structure of KLC2 TPRs showed a striking conservation of structure. We also identified multiple TPRs in VACV proteins E2 and A36. Data presented demonstrate that F12 is critical for recruitment of kinesin-1 to virions and that a conserved tryptophan and aspartic acid (WD) motif, which is conserved in the kinesin-1-binding sequence (KBS) of the neuronal protein calsyntenin/alcadein and several other cellular kinesin-1 binding proteins, is essential for kinesin-1 recruitment and virion transport. In contrast, mutation of WD motifs in protein A36 revealed they were not required for kinesin-1 recruitment or IEV transport. This report of a viral KLC-like protein containing a KBS that is conserved in several cellular proteins advances our understanding of how VACV recruits the kinesin motor to virions, and exemplifies how viruses use molecular mimicry of cellular components to their advantage.
Vaccinia virus (VACV), the vaccine used to eradicate smallpox, exploits the host cell motor kinesin-1 to export virus particles to the cell surface. We demonstrate that the VACV F12 protein has structural similarity with kinesin light chain (KLC) and facilitates viral transport using a kinesin binding sequence (KBS) that is conserved in several neuronal proteins. Dysfunction of some of these neuronal proteins can contribute to diseases, such as Alzheimer's. Mutation of the KBS in protein F12 showed it is essential for kinesin recruitment to virions and for virion transport to the cell surface. These findings enhance our understanding of how viruses hijack the host cell transport system, demonstrate conservation of a kinesin binding motif in cellular and viral proteins and identify targets for drug development.