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1.  Structure, Function, and Evolution of the Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever Virus Nucleocapsid Protein 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(20):10914-10923.
Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV) is an emerging tick-borne virus of the Bunyaviridae family that is responsible for a fatal human disease for which preventative or therapeutic measures do not exist. We solved the crystal structure of the CCHFV strain Baghdad-12 nucleocapsid protein (N), a potential therapeutic target, at a resolution of 2.1 Å. N comprises a large globular domain composed of both N- and C-terminal sequences, likely involved in RNA binding, and a protruding arm domain with a conserved DEVD caspase-3 cleavage site at its apex. Alignment of our structure with that of the recently reported N protein from strain YL04057 shows a close correspondence of all folds but significant transposition of the arm through a rotation of 180 degrees and a translation of 40 Å. These observations suggest a structural flexibility that may provide the basis for switching between alternative N protein conformations during important functions such as RNA binding and oligomerization. Our structure reveals surfaces likely involved in RNA binding and oligomerization, and functionally critical residues within these domains were identified using a minigenome system able to recapitulate CCHFV-specific RNA synthesis in cells. Caspase-3 cleaves the polypeptide chain at the exposed DEVD motif; however, the cleaved N protein remains an intact unit, likely due to the intimate association of N- and C-terminal fragments in the globular domain. Structural alignment with existing N proteins reveals that the closest CCHFV relative is not another bunyavirus but the arenavirus Lassa virus instead, suggesting that current segmented negative-strand RNA virus taxonomy may need revision.
doi:10.1128/JVI.01555-12
PMCID: PMC3457148  PMID: 22875964
2.  Quantitative Proteomic Analysis of A549 Cells Infected with Human Respiratory Syncytial Virus* 
Human respiratory syncytial virus (HRSV) is a major cause of pediatric lower respiratory tract disease to which there is no vaccine or efficacious chemotherapeutic strategy. Although RNA synthesis and virus assembly occur in the cytoplasm, HRSV is known to induce nuclear responses in the host cell as replication alters global gene expression. Quantitative proteomics was used to take an unbiased overview of the protein changes in transformed human alveolar basal epithelial cells infected with HRSV. Underpinning this was the use of stable isotope labeling with amino acids in cell culture coupled to LC-MS/MS, which allowed the direct and simultaneous identification and quantification of both cellular and viral proteins. To reduce sample complexity and increase data return on potential protein localization, cells were fractionated into nuclear and cytoplasmic extracts. This resulted in the identification of 1,140 cellular proteins and six viral proteins. The proteomics data were analyzed using Ingenuity Pathways Analysis to identify defined canonical pathways and functional groupings. Selected data were validated using Western blot, direct and indirect immunofluorescence confocal microscopy, and functional assays. The study served to validate and expand upon known HRSV-host cell interactions, including those associated with the antiviral response and alterations in subnuclear structures such as the nucleolus and ND10 (promyelocytic leukemia bodies). In addition, novel changes were observed in mitochondrial proteins and functions, cell cycle regulatory molecules, nuclear pore complex proteins and nucleocytoplasmic trafficking proteins. These data shed light into how the cell is potentially altered to create conditions more favorable for infection. Additionally, the study highlights the application and advantage of stable isotope labeling with amino acids in cell culture coupled to LC-MS/MS for the analysis of virus-host interactions.
doi:10.1074/mcp.M110.001859
PMCID: PMC2984239  PMID: 20647383
3.  Plasma progranulin levels predict progranulin mutation status in frontotemporal dementia patients and asymptomatic family members 
Brain  2009;132(3):583-591.
Mutations in the progranulin gene (GRN) are an important cause of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with ubiquitin and TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP43)-positive pathology. The clinical presentation associated with GRN mutations is heterogeneous and may include clinical probable Alzheimer's disease. All GRN mutations identified thus far cause disease through a uniform disease mechanism, i.e. the loss of functional GRN or haploinsufficiency. To determine if expression of GRN in plasma could predict GRN mutation status and could be used as a biological marker, we optimized a GRN ELISA and studied plasma samples of a consecutive clinical FTLD series of 219 patients, 70 control individuals, 72 early-onset probable Alzheimer's disease patients and nine symptomatic and 18 asymptomatic relatives of GRN mutation families. All FTLD patients with GRN loss-of-function mutations showed significantly reduced levels of GRN in plasma to about one third of the levels observed in non-GRN carriers and control individuals (P < 0.001). No overlap in distributions of GRN levels was observed between the eight GRN loss-of-function mutation carriers (range: 53–94 ng/ml) and 191 non-GRN mutation carriers (range: 115–386 ng/ml). Similar low levels of GRN were identified in asymptomatic GRN mutation carriers. Importantly, ELISA analyses also identified one probable Alzheimer's disease patient (1.4%) carrying a loss-of-function mutation in GRN. Biochemical analyses further showed that the GRN ELISA only detects full-length GRN, no intermediate granulin fragments. This study demonstrates that using a GRN ELISA in plasma, pathogenic GRN mutations can be accurately detected in symptomatic and asymptomatic carriers. The ∼75% reduction in full-length GRN, suggests an unbalanced GRN metabolism in loss-of-function mutation carriers whereby more GRN is processed into granulins. We propose that plasma GRN levels could be used as a reliable and inexpensive tool to identify all GRN mutation carriers in early-onset dementia populations and asymptomatic at-risk individuals.
doi:10.1093/brain/awn352
PMCID: PMC2664450  PMID: 19158106
Progranulin; ELISA; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Alzheimer's disease

Results 1-3 (3)