Replication of positive-sense RNA viruses is associated with the rearrangement of cellular membranes. Previous work on the infection of tissue culture cell lines with the betacoronaviruses mouse hepatitis virus and severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) showed that they generate double-membrane vesicles (DMVs) and convoluted membranes as part of a reticular membrane network. Here we describe a detailed study of the membrane rearrangements induced by the avian gammacoronavirus infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) in a mammalian cell line but also in primary avian cells and in epithelial cells of ex vivo tracheal organ cultures. In all cell types, structures novel to IBV infection were identified that we have termed zippered endoplasmic reticulum (ER) and spherules. Zippered ER lacked luminal space, suggesting zippering of ER cisternae, while spherules appeared as uniform invaginations of zippered ER. Electron tomography showed that IBV-induced spherules are tethered to the zippered ER and that there is a channel connecting the interior of the spherule with the cytoplasm, a feature thought to be necessary for sites of RNA synthesis but not seen previously for membrane rearrangements induced by coronaviruses. We also identified DMVs in IBV-infected cells that were observed as single individual DMVs or were connected to the ER via their outer membrane but not to the zippered ER. Interestingly, IBV-induced spherules strongly resemble confirmed sites of RNA synthesis for alphaviruses, nodaviruses, and bromoviruses, which may indicate similar strategies of IBV and these diverse viruses for the assembly of RNA replication complexes.
IMPORTANCE All positive-sense single-stranded RNA viruses induce rearranged cellular membranes, providing a platform for viral replication complex assembly and protecting viral RNA from cellular defenses. We have studied the membrane rearrangements induced by an important poultry pathogen, the gammacoronavirus infectious bronchitis virus (IBV). Previous work studying closely related betacoronaviruses identified double-membrane vesicles (DMVs) and convoluted membranes (CMs) derived from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) in infected cells. However, the role of DMVs and CMs in viral RNA synthesis remains unclear because these sealed vesicles lack a means of delivering viral RNA to the cytoplasm. Here, we characterized structures novel to IBV infection: zippered ER and small vesicles tethered to the zippered ER termed spherules. Significantly, spherules contain a channel connecting their interior to the cytoplasm and strongly resemble confirmed sites of RNA synthesis for other positive-sense RNA viruses, making them ideal candidates for the site of IBV RNA synthesis.
All positive-sense single-stranded RNA viruses induce rearranged cellular membranes, providing a platform for viral replication complex assembly and protecting viral RNA from cellular defenses. We have studied the membrane rearrangements induced by an important poultry pathogen, the gammacoronavirus infectious bronchitis virus (IBV). Previous work studying closely related betacoronaviruses identified double-membrane vesicles (DMVs) and convoluted membranes (CMs) derived from the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) in infected cells. However, the role of DMVs and CMs in viral RNA synthesis remains unclear because these sealed vesicles lack a means of delivering viral RNA to the cytoplasm. Here, we characterized structures novel to IBV infection: zippered ER and small vesicles tethered to the zippered ER termed spherules. Significantly, spherules contain a channel connecting their interior to the cytoplasm and strongly resemble confirmed sites of RNA synthesis for other positive-sense RNA viruses, making them ideal candidates for the site of IBV RNA synthesis.
Coronavirus subgenomic mRNA (sgmRNA) synthesis occurs via a process of discontinuous transcription involving transcription regulatory sequences (TRSs) located in the 5′ leader sequence (TRS-L) and upstream of each structural and group-specific gene (TRS-B). Several gammacoronaviruses including infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) contain a putative open reading frame (ORF), localized between the M gene and gene 5, which is controversial due to the perceived absence of a TRS. We have studied the transcription of a novel sgmRNA associated with this potential ORF and found it to be transcribed via a previously unidentified noncanonical TRS-B. Using an IBV reverse genetics system, we demonstrated that the template-switching event during intergenic region (IR) sgmRNA synthesis occurs at the 5′ end of the noncanonical TRS-B and recombines between nucleotides 5 and 6 of the 8-nucleotide consensus TRS-L. Introduction of a complete TRS-B showed that higher transcription levels are achieved by increasing the number of nucleotide matches between TRS-L and TRS-B. Translation of a protein from the sgmRNA was demonstrated using enhanced green fluorescent protein, suggesting the translation of a fifth, novel, group-specific protein for IBV. This study has resolved an issue concerning the number of ORFs expressed by members of the Gammacoronavirus genus and proposes the existence of a fifth IBV accessory protein. We confirmed previous reports that coronaviruses can produce sgmRNAs from noncanonical TRS-Bs, which may expand their repertoire of proteins. We also demonstrated that noncanonical TRS-Bs may provide a mechanism by which coronaviruses can control protein expression levels by reducing sgmRNA synthesis.
The avian coronavirus infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) is the causative agent of the respiratory disease infectious bronchitis of domestic fowl, and is controlled by routine vaccination. To explore the potential use of IBV as a vaccine vector a reverse genetics system was utilised to generate infectious recombinant IBVs (rIBVs) expressing the reporter genes enhanced green fluorescent protein (eGFP) or humanised Renilla luciferase (hRluc). Infectious rIBVs were obtained following the replacement of Gene 5 or the intergenic region (IR) with eGFP or hRluc, or the replacement of ORFs 3a and 3b with hRluc. The replacement of Gene 5 with an IBV codon-optimised version of the hRluc gene also resulted in successful rescue of infectious rIBV. Reporter gene expression was confirmed by fluorescence microscopy, or luciferase activity assays, for all successfully rescued rIBVs following infection of primary chick kidney (CK) cells. The genetic stability of rIBVs was analysed by serial passage on CK cells. Recombinant IBV stability varied depending on the genome region being replaced, with the reporter genes maintained up to at least passage 8 (P8) following replacement of Gene 5, P7 for replacement of the IR and P5 for replacement of ORFs 3a and 3b. Codon-optimisation of the hRluc gene, when replacing Gene 5, resulted in an increase in genome stability, with hRluc expression stable up to P10 compared to P8 for standard hRluc. Repeated passaging of rIBVs expressing hRluc at an MOI of 0.01 demonstrated an increase in stability, with hRluc expression stable up to at least P12 following the replacement of Gene 5. This study has demonstrated that heterologous genes can be incorporated into, and expressed from a range of IBV genome locations and that replacement of accessory Gene 5 offers a promising target for realising the potential of IBV as a vaccine vector for other avian pathogens.
Infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) causes an infectious respiratory disease of domestic fowl that affects poultry of all ages causing economic problems for the poultry industry worldwide. Although IBV is controlled using live attenuated and inactivated vaccines it continues to be a major problem due to the existence of many serotypes, determined by the surface spike protein resulting in poor cross-protection, and loss of immunogenicity associated with vaccine production. Live attenuated IBV vaccines are produced by the repeated passage in embryonated eggs resulting in spontaneous mutations. As a consequence attenuated viruses have only a few mutations responsible for the loss of virulence, which will differ between vaccines affecting virulence and/or immunogenicity and can revert to virulence. A new generation of vaccines is called for and one means of controlling IBV involves the development of new and safer vaccines by precisely modifying the IBV genome using reverse genetics for the production of rationally attenuated IBVs in order to obtain an optimum balance between loss of virulence and capacity to induce immunity.
avian; coronavirus; homologous recombination; infectious bronchitis virus; infectious clone; poultry; reverse genetics; spike glycoprotein; vaccine; vaccinia virus
Coronaviruses are single stranded, positive sense RNA viruses, which induce the rearrangement of cellular membranes upon infection of a host cell. This provides the virus with a platform for the assembly of viral replication complexes, improving efficiency of RNA synthesis. The membranes observed in coronavirus infected cells include double membrane vesicles. By nature of their double membrane, these vesicles resemble cellular autophagosomes, generated during the cellular autophagy pathway. In addition, coronavirus infection has been demonstrated to induce autophagy. Here we review current knowledge of coronavirus induced membrane rearrangements and the involvement of autophagy or autophagy protein microtubule associated protein 1B light chain 3 (LC3) in coronavirus replication.
coronavirus; IBV; autophagy; double membrane vesicles; replication-transcription complexes
Autophagy is a cellular response to starvation which generates autophagosomes to carry cellular organelles and long-lived proteins to lysosomes for degradation. Degradation through autophagy can provide an innate defense against virus infection, or conversely autophagosomes can promote infection by facilitating assembly of replicase proteins. We demonstrate that the avian coronavirus, infectious bronchitis virus (IBV), activates autophagy. A screen of individual IBV nonstructural proteins (nsps) showed that autophagy was activated by IBV nsp6. This property was shared with nsp6 of mammalian coronaviruses mouse hepatitis virus, and severe acute respiratory syndrome virus, and the equivalent nsp5–7 of the arterivirus porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome virus. These multiple-spanning transmembrane proteins located to the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) where they generated Atg5 and LC3II -positive vesicles, and vesicle formation was dependent on Atg5 and class III PI3 kinase. The vesicles recruited double-FYVE-domain containing protein (DFCP) indicating localized concentration of phosphatidylinositol 3 phosphate, and therefore shared many features with omegasomes formed from the ER in response to starvation. Omegasomes induced by viral nsp6 matured into autophagosomes that delivered LC3 to lysosomes and therefore recruited and recycled the proteins needed for autophagosome nucleation, expansion, cellular trafficking and delivery of cargo to lysosomes. The coronavirus nsp6 proteins activated omegasome and autophagosome formation independently of starvation, but activation did not involve direct inhibition of mTOR signaling, activation of sirtuin 1 or induction of ER stress.
autophagy; omegasome; endoplasmic reticulum; coronavirus; nonstructural proteins
We have shown previously that replacement of the spike (S) gene of the apathogenic IBV strain Beau-R with that from the pathogenic strain of the same serotype, M41, resulted in an apathogenic virus, BeauR-M41(S), that conferred protection against challenge with M41 . We have constructed a recombinant IBV, BeauR-4/91(S), with the genetic backbone of Beau-R but expressing the spike protein of the pathogenic IBV strain 4/91(UK), which belongs to a different serogroup as Beaudette or M41. Similar to our previous findings with BeauR-M41(S), clinical signs observations showed that the S gene of the pathogenic 4/91 virus did not confer pathogenicity to the rIBV BeauR-4/91(S). Furthermore, protection studies showed there was homologous protection; BeauR-4/91(S) conferred protection against challenge with wild type 4/91 virus as shown by the absence of clinical signs, IBV RNA assessed by qRT-PCR and the fact that no virus was isolated from tracheas removed from birds primarily infected with BeauR-4/91(S) and challenged with IBV 4/91(UK). A degree of heterologous protection against M41 challenge was observed, albeit at a lower level.
Our results confirm and extend our previous findings and conclusions that swapping of the ectodomain of the S protein is a precise and effective way of generating genetically defined candidate IBV vaccines.
We have previously demonstrated that the replacement of the S gene from an avirulent strain (Beaudette) of infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) with an S gene from a virulent strain (M41) resulted in a recombinant virus (BeauR-M41(S)) with the in vitro cell tropism of the virulent virus but that was still avirulent. In order to investigate whether any of the other structural or accessory genes played a role in pathogenicity we have now replaced these from the Beaudette strain with those from M41. The recombinant IBV was in effect a chimaeric virus with the replicase gene derived from Beaudette and the rest of the genome from M41. This demonstrated that it is possible to exchange a large region of the IBV genome, approximately 8.4 kb, using our transient dominant selection method. Recovery of a viable recombinant IBV also demonstrated that it is possible to interchange a complete replicase gene as we had in effect replaced the M41 replicase gene with the Beaudette derived gene. Analysis of the chimaeric virus showed that it was avirulent indicating that none of the structural or accessory genes derived from a virulent isolate of IBV were able to restore virulence and that therefore, the loss of virulence associated with the Beaudette strain resides in the replicase gene.
DetectiV is a tool for analyzing pathogen-detection microarray datasets that allows simple visualisation, normalisation and significance testing.
DNA microarrays offer the possibility of testing for the presence of thousands of micro-organisms in a single experiment. However, there is a lack of reliable bioinformatics tools for the analysis of such data. We have developed DetectiV, a package for the statistical software R. DetectiV offers powerful yet simple visualization, normalization and significance testing tools. We show that DetectiV performs better than previously published software on a large, publicly available dataset.
Gene 3 of infectious bronchitis virus is tricistronic; open reading frames (ORFs) 3a and 3b encode two small nonstructural (ns) proteins, 3a and 3b, of unknown function, and a third, structural protein E, is encoded by ORF 3c. To determine if either the 3a or the 3b protein is required for replication, we first modified their translation initiation codons to prevent translation of the 3a and 3b proteins from recombinant infectious bronchitis viruses (rIBVs). Replication in primary chick kidney (CK) cells and in chicken embryos was not affected. In chicken tracheal organ cultures (TOCs), the recombinant rIBVs reached titers similar to those of the wild-type virus, but in the case of viruses lacking the 3a protein, the titer declined reproducibly earlier. Translation of the IBV E protein is believed to be initiated by internal entry of ribosomes at a structure formed by the sequences corresponding to ORFs 3a and 3b. To assess the necessity of this mechanism, we deleted most of the sequence representing 3a and 3b to produce a gene in which ORF 3c (E) was adjacent to the gene 3 transcription-associated sequence. Western blot analysis revealed that the recombinant IBV produced fivefold less E protein. Nevertheless, titers produced in CK cells, embryos, and TOCs were similar to those of the wild-type virus, although they declined earlier in TOCs, probably due to the absence of the 3a protein. Thus, neither the tricistronic arrangement of gene 3, the internal initiation of translation of E protein, nor the 3a and 3b proteins are essential for replication per se, suggesting that these proteins are accessory proteins that may have roles in vivo.
The avian coronavirus Infectious bronchitis virus (IBV), like other coronaviruses, expresses several small nonstructural (ns) proteins in addition to those from gene 1 (replicase) and the structural proteins. These coronavirus ns genes differ both in number and in amino acid similarity between the coronavirus groups but show some concordance within a group or subgroup. The functions and requirements of the small ns gene products remain to be elucidated. With the advent of reverse genetics for coronaviruses, the first steps in elucidating their role can be investigated. We have used our reverse genetics system for IBV (R. Casais, V. Thiel, S. G. Siddell, D. Cavanagh, and P. Britton, J. Virol. 75:12359-12369, 2001) to investigate the requirement of IBV gene 5 for replication in vivo, in ovo, and ex vivo. We produced a series of recombinant viruses, with an isogenic background, in which complete expression of gene 5 products was prevented by the inactivation of gene 5 following scrambling of the transcription-associated sequence, thereby preventing the expression of IBV subgenomic mRNA 5, or scrambling either separately or together of the translation initiation codons for the two gene 5 products. As all of the recombinant viruses replicated very similarly to the wild-type virus, Beau-R, we conclude that the IBV gene 5 products are not essential for IBV replication per se and that they are accessory proteins.
We have replaced the ectodomain of the spike (S) protein of the Beaudette strain (Beau-R; apathogenic for Gallus domesticus chickens) of avian infectious bronchitis coronavirus (IBV) with that from the pathogenic M41 strain to produce recombinant IBV BeauR-M41(S). We have previously shown that this changed the tropism of the virus in vitro (R. Casais, B. Dove, D. Cavanagh, and P. Britton, J. Virol. 77:9084-9089, 2003). Herein we have assessed the pathogenicity and immunogenicity of BeauR-M41(S). There were no consistent differences in pathogenicity between the recombinant BeauR-M41(S) and its apathogenic parent Beau-R (based on snicking, nasal discharge, wheezing, watery eyes, rales, and ciliostasis in trachea), and both replicated poorly in trachea and nose compared to M41; the S protein from the pathogenic M41 had not altered the apathogenic nature of Beau-R. Both Beau-R and BeauR-M41(S) induced protection against challenge with M41 as assessed by absence of recovery of challenge virus and nasal exudate. With regard to snicking and ciliostasis, BeauR-M41(S) induced greater protection (seven out of nine chicks [77%]; assessed by ciliostasis) than Beau-R (one out of nine; 11%) but less than M41 (100%). The greater protection induced by BeauR-M41(S) against M41 may be related to the ectodomain of the spike protein of Beau-R differing from that of M41 by 4.1%; a small number of epitopes on the S protein may play a disproportionate role in the induction of immunity. The results are promising for the prospects of S-gene exchange for IBV vaccine development.
Avian infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) defective RNAs (D-RNAs) have been used for the expression of heterologous genes in a helper-virus-dependent expression system. The heterologous genes were expressed under the control of an IBV transcription-associated sequence (TAS) derived from gene 5 of IBV Beaudette. However, coronavirus D-RNA expression vectors display an inherent instability following serial passage with helper virus, resulting in the eventual loss of the heterologous genes. The use of the picornavirus encephalomyocarditis virus (EMCV) internal ribosome entry site (IRES) sequence to initiate gene translation was investigated as an alternative method to the coronavirus-mediated TAS-controlled heterologous gene expression system. IBV D-RNAs containing the chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) reporter gene, under EMCV IRES control, were assessed for IRES-mediated CAT protein translation. CAT protein was detected from T7-derived IBV D-RNA transcripts in a cell-free protein synthesis system and in situ in avian chick kidney (CK) cells following T7-derived D-RNA synthesis from a recombinant fowlpox virus expressing the bacteriophage T7 DNA-dependent RNA polymerase. However, CAT protein was not detected in CK cells from IRES-containing IBV D-RNAs, in which the IRES-CAT construct was inserted at two different positions within the D-RNA, in the presence of helper IBV. Northern blot analysis demonstrated that the IRES-containing D-RNAs were not rescued on serial passage with helper virus, indicating that the EMCV IRES sequence had a detrimental effect on IBV D-RNA rescue.
A recombinant infectious bronchitis virus (IBV), BeauR-M41(S), was generated using our reverse genetics system (R. Casais, V. Thiel, S. G. Siddell, D. Cavanagh, and P. Britton, J. Virol. 75:12359-12369, 2001), in which the ectodomain region of the spike gene from IBV M41-CK replaced the corresponding region of the IBV Beaudette genome. BeauR-M41(S) acquired the same cell tropism phenotype as IBV M41-CK in four different cell types, demonstrating that the IBV spike glycoprotein is a determinant of cell tropism.
Coronavirus defective RNAs (D-RNAs) have been used for site-directed mutagenesis of coronavirus genomes and for expression of heterologous genes. D-RNA CD-61 derived from the avian coronavirus infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) was used as an RNA vector for the expression of chicken gamma interferon (chIFN-γ). D-RNAs expressing chIFN-γ were shown to be capable of rescue, replication, and packaging into virions in a helper virus-dependent system following electroporation of in vitro-derived T7 RNA transcripts into IBV-infected cells. Secreted chIFN-γ, under the control of an IBV transcription-associated sequence derived from gene 5 of the Beaudette strain, was expressed from two different positions within CD-61 and shown to be biologically active. In addition, following infection of 10-day-old chicken embryos with IBV containing D-RNAs expressing chIFN-γ, the allantoic fluid was shown to contain biologically active chIFN-γ, demonstrating that IBV D-RNAs can express heterologous genes in vivo.
Coronavirus nucleoproteins (N proteins) localize to the cytoplasm and the nucleolus, a subnuclear structure, in both virus-infected primary cells and in cells transfected with plasmids that express N protein. The nucleolus is the site of ribosome biogenesis and sequesters cell cycle regulatory complexes. Two of the major components of the nucleolus are fibrillarin and nucleolin. These proteins are involved in nucleolar assembly and ribosome biogenesis and act as chaperones for the import of proteins into the nucleolus. We have found that fibrillarin is reorganized in primary cells infected with the avian coronavirus infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) and in continuous cell lines that express either IBV or mouse hepatitis virus N protein. Both N protein and a fibrillarin-green fluorescent protein fusion protein colocalized to the perinuclear region and the nucleolus. Pull-down assays demonstrated that IBV N protein interacted with nucleolin and therefore provided a possible explanation as to how coronavirus N proteins localize to the nucleolus. Nucleoli, and proteins that localize to the nucleolus, have been implicated in cell growth-cell cycle regulation. Comparison of cells expressing IBV N protein with controls indicated that cells expressing N protein had delayed cellular growth. This result could not to be attributed to apoptosis. Morphological analysis of these cells indicated that cytokinesis was disrupted, an observation subsequently found in primary cells infected with IBV. Coronaviruses might therefore delay the cell cycle in interphase, where maximum translation of viral mRNAs can occur.
Major advances in the study of the molecular biology of RNA viruses have resulted from the ability to generate and manipulate full-length genomic cDNAs of the viral genomes with the subsequent synthesis of infectious RNA for the generation of recombinant viruses. Coronaviruses have the largest RNA virus genomes and, together with genetic instability of some cDNA sequences in Escherichia coli, this has hampered the generation of a reverse-genetics system for this group of viruses. In this report, we describe the assembly of a full-length cDNA from the positive-sense genomic RNA of the avian coronavirus, infectious bronchitis virus (IBV), an important poultry pathogen. The IBV genomic cDNA was assembled immediately downstream of a T7 RNA polymerase promoter by in vitro ligation and cloned directly into the vaccinia virus genome. Infectious IBV RNA was generated in situ after the transfection of restricted recombinant vaccinia virus DNA into primary chick kidney cells previously infected with a recombinant fowlpox virus expressing T7 RNA polymerase. Recombinant IBV, containing two marker mutations, was recovered from the transfected cells. These results describe a reverse-genetics system for studying the molecular biology of IBV and establish a paradigm for generating genetically defined vaccines for IBV.
The subcellular localization of transmissible gastroenteritis virus (TGEV) and mouse hepatitis virus (MHV) (group I and group II coronaviruses, respectively) nucleoproteins (N proteins) were examined by confocal microscopy. The proteins were shown to localize either to the cytoplasm alone or to the cytoplasm and a structure in the nucleus. This feature was confirmed to be the nucleolus by using specific antibodies to nucleolin, a major component of the nucleolus, and by confocal microscopy to image sections through a cell expressing N protein. These findings are consistent with our previous report for infectious bronchitis virus (group III coronavirus) (J. A. Hiscox et al., J. Virol. 75:506–512, 2001), indicating that nucleolar localization of the N protein is a common feature of the coronavirus family and is possibly of functional significance. Nucleolar localization signals were identified in the domain III region of the N protein from all three coronavirus groups, and this suggested that transport of N protein to the nucleus might be an active process. In addition, our results suggest that the N protein might function to disrupt cell division. Thus, we observed that approximately 30% of cells transfected with the N protein appeared to be undergoing cell division. The most likely explanation for this is that the N protein induced a cell cycle delay or arrest, most likely in the G2/M phase. In a fraction of transfected cells expressing coronavirus N proteins, we observed multinucleate cells and dividing cells with nucleoli (which are only present during interphase). These findings are consistent with the possible inhibition of cytokinesis in these cells.
The coronavirus nucleoprotein (N) has been reported to be involved in various aspects of virus replication. We examined by confocal microscopy the subcellular localization of the avian infectious bronchitis virus N protein both in the absence and in the context of an infected cell and found that N protein localizes both to the cytoplasmic and nucleolar compartments.
The parts of the RNA genome of infectious bronchitis virus (IBV) required for replication and packaging of the RNA were investigated using deletion mutagenesis of a defective RNA (D-RNA) CD-61 (6.1 kb) containing a chloramphenicol acetyltransferase reporter gene. A D-RNA with the first 544, but not as few as 338, nucleotides (nt) of the 5′ terminus was replicated; the 5′ untranslated region (UTR) comprises 528 nt. Region I of the 3′ UTR, adjacent to the nucleocapsid protein gene, comprised 212 nt and could be removed without impairment of replication or packaging of D-RNAs. A D-RNA with the final 338 nt, including the 293 nt in the highly conserved region II of the 3′ UTR, was replicated. Thus, the 5′-terminal 544 nt and 3′-terminal 338 nt contained the necessary signals for RNA replication. Phylogenetic analysis of 19 strains of IBV and 3 strains of turkey coronavirus predicted a conserved stem-loop structure at the 5′ end of region II of the 3′ UTR. Removal of the predicted stem-loop structure abolished replication of the D-RNAs. D-RNAs in which replicase gene 1b-derived sequences had been removed or replaced with all the downstream genes were replicated well but were rescued poorly, suggesting inefficient packaging. However, no specific part of the 1b gene was required for efficient packaging.