The 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic (pH1N1) led to record sales of neuraminidase (NA) inhibitors, which has contributed significantly to the recent increase in oseltamivir-resistant viruses. Therefore, development and careful evaluation of novel NA inhibitors is of great interest. Recently, a highly potent NA inhibitor, laninamivir, has been approved for use in Japan. Laninamivir is effective using a single inhaled dose via its octanoate prodrug (CS-8958) and has been demonstrated to be effective against oseltamivir-resistant NA in vitro. However, effectiveness of laninamivir octanoate prodrug against oseltamivir-resistant influenza infection in adults has not been demonstrated. NA is classified into 2 groups based upon phylogenetic analysis and it is becoming clear that each group has some distinct structural features. Recently, we found that pH1N1 N1 NA (p09N1) is an atypical group 1 NA with some group 2-like features in its active site (lack of a 150-cavity). Furthermore, it has been reported that certain oseltamivir-resistant substitutions in the NA active site are group 1 specific. In order to comprehensively evaluate the effectiveness of laninamivir, we utilized recombinant N5 (typical group 1), p09N1 (atypical group 1) and N2 from the 1957 pandemic H2N2 (p57N2) (typical group 2) to carry out in vitro inhibition assays. We found that laninamivir and its octanoate prodrug display group specific preferences to different influenza NAs and provide the structural basis of their specific action based upon their novel complex crystal structures. Our results indicate that laninamivir and zanamivir are more effective against group 1 NA with a 150-cavity than group 2 NA with no 150-cavity. Furthermore, we have found that the laninamivir octanoate prodrug has a unique binding mode in p09N1 that is different from that of group 2 p57N2, but with some similarities to NA-oseltamivir binding, which provides additional insight into group specific differences of oseltamivir binding and resistance.
The influenza neuraminidase (NA) enzyme is the most successful drug target against the seasonal and pandemic flu. The 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic led to record sales of the NA inhibitors oseltamivir (Tamiflu) and zanamivir (Relenza). Recently, a new drug, laninamivir (Inavir), has been approved for use in Japan can also be administered effectively using a single dose via its octanoate prodrug (CS-8958), however its effectiveness against oseltamivir-resistant influenza infection has not been demonstrated in clinical studies. In this study we comprehensively evaluate the effectiveness of laninamivir and its prodrug using NA from different groups with different active site features. We expressed and purified a group 2 NA from the 1957 pandemic H2N2, an atypical group 1 NA from the 2009 H1N1 pandemic and a group 1 NA from avian H12N5. NA inhibition was assayed and NAs were further crystallized with each inhibitor to determine the structural basis of their action. We found that laninamivir inhibition is highly potent for each NA, however binding and inhibition of laninamivir and its prodrug showed group specific preferences. Our results provide the structural and functional basis of NA inhibition using classical and novel inhibitors, with NAs from multiple serotypes with different properties.
Nematode-trapping fungi are “carnivorous” and attack their hosts using specialized trapping devices. The morphological development of these traps is the key indicator of their switch from saprophytic to predacious lifestyles. Here, the genome of the nematode-trapping fungus Arthrobotrys oligospora Fres. (ATCC24927) was reported. The genome contains 40.07 Mb assembled sequence with 11,479 predicted genes. Comparative analysis showed that A. oligospora shared many more genes with pathogenic fungi than with non-pathogenic fungi. Specifically, compared to several sequenced ascomycete fungi, the A. oligospora genome has a larger number of pathogenicity-related genes in the subtilisin, cellulase, cellobiohydrolase, and pectinesterase gene families. Searching against the pathogen-host interaction gene database identified 398 homologous genes involved in pathogenicity in other fungi. The analysis of repetitive sequences provided evidence for repeat-induced point mutations in A. oligospora. Proteomic and quantitative PCR (qPCR) analyses revealed that 90 genes were significantly up-regulated at the early stage of trap-formation by nematode extracts and most of these genes were involved in translation, amino acid metabolism, carbohydrate metabolism, cell wall and membrane biogenesis. Based on the combined genomic, proteomic and qPCR data, a model for the formation of nematode trapping device in this fungus was proposed. In this model, multiple fungal signal transduction pathways are activated by its nematode prey to further regulate downstream genes associated with diverse cellular processes such as energy metabolism, biosynthesis of the cell wall and adhesive proteins, cell division, glycerol accumulation and peroxisome biogenesis. This study will facilitate the identification of pathogenicity-related genes and provide a broad foundation for understanding the molecular and evolutionary mechanisms underlying fungi-nematodes interactions.
The fungus Arthrobotrys oligospora has multiple lifestyles. It's not only a nematode pathogen, but also a saprophyte, a pathogen of other fungi, and a colonizer of plant roots. As a nematode pathogen, A. oligospora forms adhesive networks to capture nematodes and is a model organism for understanding the interaction between these fungi and their host nematodes. In this study, the whole genome sequence of A. oligospora was reported. Our analyses of the proteome profiles of intracellular proteins from cells treated with nematode extracts for 10 h and 48 h revealed a key set of genes involved in trap formation. The changes in protein levels for some trap formation related genes were further confirmed by qPCR. The combined genome and proteome analysis identified the major genetic and metabolic pathways involved in trap formation in A. oligospora. Our results provide the first glimpse into the genome and proteome of this fascinating group of carnivorous fungi. The data should serve as a roadmap for further investigations into the interaction between nematode-trapping fungi and their host nematodes, providing broad foundations for research on the biocontrol of pathogenic nematodes.
Tm-22 is a coiled coil-nucleotide binding-leucine rich repeat resistance protein that confers durable extreme resistance against Tomato mosaic virus (ToMV) and Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) by recognizing the viral movement protein (MP). Here we report that the Nicotiana benthamiana J-domain MIP1 proteins (NbMIP1s) associate with tobamovirus MP, Tm-22 and SGT1. Silencing of NbMIP1s reduced TMV movement and compromised Tm-22-mediated resistance against TMV and ToMV. Furthermore, silencing of NbMIP1s reduced the steady-state protein levels of ToMV MP and Tm-22. Moreover, NbMIP1s are required for plant resistance induced by other R genes and the nonhost pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato (Pst) DC3000. In addition, we found that SGT1 associates with Tm-22 and is required for Tm-22-mediated resistance against TMV. These results suggest that NbMIP1s function as co-chaperones during virus infection and plant immunity.
Plant pathogens cause considerable yield losses in many vegetables and crops; therefore, understanding the mechanisms of disease resistance can enable crop improvements and provide substantial economic benefits. Here, we examine the signaling pathways of Tm-22, a tomato resistance protein that confers resistance to Tomato mosaic virus (ToMV) and Tobacco mosaic virus (TMV) by detecting the presence of their movement proteins (MPs). We found that in Nicotiana benthamiana, Tm-22-mediated resistance against TMV and ToMV requires MIP1s (NbMIP1s), a group of J-domain proteins that may act as molecular chaperones to assist protein folding and maintain protein structure. Intriguingly, MIP1s are required for both TMV resistance and TMV infection. NbMIP1s interact with and are essential for protein stability of both Tm-22 and the viral MP. NbMIP1s are required for resistance mediated by other resistance proteins and resistance to the bacterial nonhost pathogen Pseudomonas syringae pv. tomato (Pst) DC3000. These new insights into the mechanisms of viral infection and disease resistance may enable future advances in crop protection.
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is a ubiquitous herpesvirus that causes birth defects in newborns and life-threatening complications in immunocompromised individuals. Among all human herpesviruses, HCMV contains a much larger dsDNA genome within a similarly-sized capsid compared to the others, and it was proposed to require pp150, a tegument protein only found in cytomegaloviruses, to stabilize its genome-containing capsid. However, little is known about how pp150 interacts with the underlying capsid. Moreover, the smallest capsid protein (SCP), while dispensable in herpes simplex virus type 1, was shown to play essential, yet undefined, role in HCMV infection. Here, by cryo electron microscopy (cryoEM), we determine three-dimensional structures of HCMV capsid (no pp150) and virion (with pp150) at sub-nanometer resolution. Comparison of these two structures reveals that each pp150 tegument density is composed of two helix bundles connected by a long central helix. Correlation between the resolved helices and sequence-based secondary structure prediction maps the tegument density to the N-terminal half of pp150. The structures also show that SCP mediates interactions between the capsid and pp150 at the upper helix bundle of pp150. Consistent with this structural observation, ribozyme inhibition of SCP expression in HCMV-infected cells impairs the formation of DNA-containing viral particles and reduces viral yield by 10,000 fold. By cryoEM reconstruction of the resulting “SCP-deficient” viral particles, we further demonstrate that SCP is required for pp150 functionally binding to the capsid. Together, our structural and biochemical results point to a mechanism whereby SCP recruits pp150 to stabilize genome-containing capsid for the production of infectious HCMV virion.
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) causes birth defects in newborns and life-threatening complications in immunocompromised individuals, such as AIDS patients and organ transplant recipients. The smallest capsid protein (SCP) – only 8 kDa molecular mass as compared to the 155 kDa major capsid protein – has been demonstrated to be essential for HCMV growth, but is dispensable in herpes simplex virus type 1. These seemingly contradictory observations have been a paradox. Here, we solve this paradox by high resolution cryo electron microscopy (cryoEM), in conjunction with functional studies using ribozyme inhibition. Our structural comparisons of HCMV virion and capsid reveal molecular interactions at the secondary structure level and suggest that SCP might contribute to capsid binding of pp150, an essential, cytomegalovirus-specific tegument protein. SCP-deficient particles generated by ribozyme inhibition of SCP-expression in HCMV-infected cells show no pp150 tegument density, demonstrating that SCP is required for the functional binding of pp150 to the capsid. Our results suggest that SCP recruits pp150 to stabilize the HCMV nucleocapsid to enable encapsidation of the genome, which is more densely packaged in HCMV than in other herpesviruses. Overall, this study not only resolves the above paradox, but also illustrates the passive acquisition of a new, essential function by SCP in the production of infectious HCMV virions.
Upon recognition of viral components by pattern recognition receptors, such as the toll-like receptors (TLRs) and retinoic acid-inducible gene I (RIG-I)-like helicases, cells are activated to produce type I interferon (IFN) and proinflammatory cytokines. These pathways are tightly regulated by the host to prevent an inappropriate cellular response, but viruses can modulate these pathways to proliferate and spread. In this study, we revealed a novel mechanism in which hepatitis C virus (HCV) evades the immune surveillance system to proliferate by activating microRNA-21 (miR-21). We demonstrated that HCV infection upregulates miR-21, which in turn suppresses HCV-triggered type I IFN production, thus promoting HCV replication. Furthermore, we demonstrated that miR-21 targets two important factors in the TLR signaling pathway, myeloid differentiation factor 88 (MyD88) and interleukin-1 receptor-associated kinase 1 (IRAK1), which are involved in HCV-induced type I IFN production. HCV-mediated activation of miR-21 expression requires viral proteins and several signaling components. Moreover, we identified a transcription factor, activating protein-1 (AP-1), which is partly responsible for miR-21 induction in response to HCV infection through PKCε/JNK/c-Jun and PKCα/ERK/c-Fos cascades. Taken together, our results indicate that miR-21 is upregulated during HCV infection and negatively regulates IFN-α signaling through MyD88 and IRAK1 and may be a potential therapeutic target for antiviral intervention.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV), a major cause of chronic hepatitis, end-stage cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma, has chronically infected 200 million people worldwide and 3–4 million more each year. When triggered by viral infection, host cells produce type I interferon (IFN) and proinflammatory cytokines to antagonize the virus. Despite extensive research, the mechanism underlying HCV immune system evasion remains elusive. Our results provided the first direct evidence that microRNA-21 (miR-21) feedback inhibits type I IFN signaling when cells are challenged with HCV, thus promoting the infection. MicroRNA is a kind of endogenous non-coding small RNA that regulates a wide range of biological processes and participate in innate and adaptive immune responses through complementarily pairing with target mRNA, which can regulate its expression or translation. Currently, miRNAs have intrigued many scientists as potent targets or therapeutic agents for diseases. In our study, the targets of miR-21, myeloid differentiation factor 88 (MyD88) and interleukin-1 receptor-associated kinase 1 (IRAK1), which are important for HCV-induced type I IFN production, have also been found. Moreover, we identified a transcription factor, AP-1, which is partly responsible for miR-21 induction in response to HCV infection. Taken together, our research has provided new insights into understanding the effects of miRNA on host-virus interactions, and revealed a potential therapeutic target for antiviral intervention.
Rabbit hemorrhagic disease, first described in China in 1984, causes hemorrhagic necrosis of the liver. Its etiological agent, rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV), belongs to the Lagovirus genus in the family Caliciviridae. The detailed molecular structure of any lagovirus capsid has yet to be determined. Here, we report a cryo-electron microscopic (cryoEM) reconstruction of wild-type RHDV at 6.5 Å resolution and the crystal structures of the shell (S) and protruding (P) domains of its major capsid protein, VP60, each at 2.0 Å resolution. From these data we built a complete atomic model of the RHDV capsid. VP60 has a conserved S domain and a specific P2 sub-domain that differs from those found in other caliciviruses. As seen in the shell portion of the RHDV cryoEM map, which was resolved to ∼5.5 Å, the N-terminal arm domain of VP60 folds back onto its cognate S domain. Sequence alignments of VP60 from six groups of RHDV isolates revealed seven regions of high variation that could be mapped onto the surface of the P2 sub-domain and suggested three putative pockets might be responsible for binding to histo-blood group antigens. A flexible loop in one of these regions was shown to interact with rabbit tissue cells and contains an important epitope for anti-RHDV antibody production. Our study provides a reliable, pseudo-atomic model of a Lagovirus and suggests a new candidate for an efficient vaccine that can be used to protect rabbits from RHDV infection.
Rabbit hemorrhagic disease (RHD), first described in China in 1984, causes hemorrhagic necrosis of the liver within three days after infection and with a mortality rate that exceeds 90%. RHD has spread to large parts of the world and threatens the rabbit industry and related ecology. Its etiological agent, rabbit hemorrhagic disease virus (RHDV), belongs to the Lagovirus genus in the family Caliciviridae. Currently, the absence of a high-resolution model of any lagovirus impedes our understanding of its molecular interactions with hosts and successful design of an efficient anti-RHDV vaccine. Here, we use hybrid structural approaches to construct a pseudo-atomic model of RHDV that reveals significant differences in the P2 sub-domain of the major capsid protein compared to that seen in other caliciviruses. We identified seven regions of high sequence variation in this sub-domain that dictate the binding specificities of histo-blood group antigens. In one of these regions, we identified an antigenic peptide that interacts with rabbit tissue cells and elicits a significant immune response in rabbits and, hence, protects them from RHDV infection. Our pseudo-atomic model provides a structural framework for developing new anti-RHDV vaccines and will also help guide use of the RHDV capsid as a vehicle to display human tumor antigens as part of anti-tumor therapy.
The cellular endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) machinery participates in membrane scission and cytoplasmic budding of many RNA viruses. Here, we found that expression of dominant negative ESCRT proteins caused a blockade of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) release and retention of viral BFRF1 at the nuclear envelope. The ESCRT adaptor protein Alix was redistributed and partially colocalized with BFRF1 at the nuclear rim of virus replicating cells. Following transient transfection, BFRF1 associated with ESCRT proteins, reorganized the nuclear membrane and induced perinuclear vesicle formation. Multiple domains within BFRF1 mediated vesicle formation and Alix recruitment, whereas both Bro and PRR domains of Alix interacted with BFRF1. Inhibition of ESCRT machinery abolished BFRF1-induced vesicle formation, leading to the accumulation of viral DNA and capsid proteins in the nucleus of EBV-replicating cells. Overall, data here suggest that BFRF1 recruits the ESCRT components to modulate nuclear envelope for the nuclear egress of EBV.
Herpesviruses are large DNA viruses associated with human and animal diseases. After viral DNA replication, the herpesviral nucleocapsids egress through the nuclear membrane for subsequent cytoplasmic virion maturation. However, the mechanism by which the virus regulates the nuclear membrane and cellular machinery involved in this process remained elusive. The cellular endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) machinery is known to participate in the biogenesis of multivesicular bodies, cytokinesis and the release of enveloped viruses from cytoplasmic membranes. Here, we show that functional ESCRT machinery is required for the maturation of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). ESCRT proteins are redistributed close to the nucleus-associated membrane through interaction with the viral BFRF1 protein, leading to vesicle formation and structural changes of the nuclear membrane. Remarkably, inhibition of ESCRT machinery abolishes BFRF1-induced vesicle formation, and leads to the accumulation of viral DNA and capsid proteins in the nucleus. Specific interactions between BFRF1 and Alix are required for BFRF1-derived vesicle formation and crucial for the nuclear egress of EBV.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus) pathogenesis is a complex process involving a diverse array of extracellular and cell wall components. ClfB, an MSCRAMM (Microbial Surface Components Recognizing Adhesive Matrix Molecules) family surface protein, described as a fibrinogen-binding clumping factor, is a key determinant of S. aureus nasal colonization, but the molecular basis for ClfB-ligand recognition remains unknown. In this study, we solved the crystal structures of apo-ClfB and its complexes with fibrinogen α (Fg α) and cytokeratin 10 (CK10) peptides. Structural comparison revealed a conserved glycine-serine-rich (GSR) ClfB binding motif (GSSGXGXXG) within the ligands, which was also found in other human proteins such as Engrailed protein, TCF20 and Dermokine proteins. Interaction between Dermokine and ClfB was confirmed by subsequent binding assays. The crystal structure of ClfB complexed with a 15-residue peptide derived from Dermokine revealed the same peptide binding mode of ClfB as identified in the crystal structures of ClfB-Fg α and ClfB-CK10. The results presented here highlight the multi-ligand binding property of ClfB, which is very distinct from other characterized MSCRAMMs to-date. The adherence of multiple peptides carrying the GSR motif into the same pocket in ClfB is reminiscent of MHC molecules. Our results provide a template for the identification of other molecules targeted by S. aureus during its colonization and infection. We propose that other MSCRAMMs like ClfA and SdrG also possess multi-ligand binding properties.
Staphylococcus aureus (S. aureus), an important opportunistic pathogen, is a major threat to humans and animals, causing high morbidity and mortality worldwide. It is responsible for a variety of infections ranging from mild superficial infections to severe infections such as infective endocarditis, septic arthritis, osteomyelitis and sepsis. Such infections are of growing concern due to the increasing antibiotic resistance of S. aureus. In order to understand the mechanism of the S. aureus pathogenesis, we studied one of the bacterial surface proteins clumping factor B (ClfB) bound by the fibrinogen α (Fg α) and cytokeratin 10 (CK10). From analyses of the high resolution crystal structures we found that the ClfB-binding peptides harbor a stretch with consensus sequence (GSSGXGXXG) that is also conserved in Engrailed protein, TCF20 and Dermokines. The interaction between ClfB and a dermokine-derived peptide was demonstrated using binding assays. Consistent with a role of ClfB in the inflammatory responses induced by S. aureus, expression of dermokines is predominant in epithelial tissues and upregulated in inflammatory diseases. The data presented in this study raise a possibility that multiple human proteins are targeted by ClfB during S. aureus infection. The multi-ligand binding feature of ClfB would be valuable for developing new therapeutic strategies.
Plant intracellular immune receptors comprise a large number of multi-domain proteins resembling animal NOD-like receptors (NLRs). Plant NLRs typically recognize isolate-specific pathogen-derived effectors, encoded by avirulence (AVR) genes, and trigger defense responses often associated with localized host cell death. The barley MLA gene is polymorphic in nature and encodes NLRs of the coiled-coil (CC)-NB-LRR type that each detects a cognate isolate-specific effector of the barley powdery mildew fungus. We report the systematic analyses of MLA10 activity in disease resistance and cell death signaling in barley and Nicotiana benthamiana. MLA10 CC domain-triggered cell death is regulated by highly conserved motifs in the CC and the NB-ARC domains and by the C-terminal LRR of the receptor. Enforced MLA10 subcellular localization, by tagging with a nuclear localization sequence (NLS) or a nuclear export sequence (NES), shows that MLA10 activity in cell death signaling is suppressed in the nucleus but enhanced in the cytoplasm. By contrast, nuclear localized MLA10 is sufficient to mediate disease resistance against powdery mildew fungus. MLA10 retention in the cytoplasm was achieved through attachment of a glucocorticoid receptor hormone-binding domain (GR), by which we reinforced the role of cytoplasmic MLA10 in cell death signaling. Together with our data showing an essential and sufficient nuclear MLA10 activity in disease resistance, this suggests a bifurcation of MLA10-triggered cell death and disease resistance signaling in a compartment-dependent manner.
Plants utilize a multilayered immune system to protect themselves against pathogens. One layer of innate immunity is controlled by intracellular immune receptors called disease resistance (R) proteins. Plant R proteins are powerful molecules capable of triggering host cell suicide thereby restricting pathogen growth. Therefore, it is crucial for plants to control R protein activity in signaling cell death to avoid harmful autoimmune responses. The Barley MLA locus encodes a number of immune receptors that each recognizes a specific powdery mildew fungal strain. Upon pathogen recognition MLAs trigger host defenses concomitant with a rapid cell death response. We here show that MLA10 cell death-inducing activity is tightly regulated by conserved motifs located in two of its domains and by specific cellular chaperone components. Furthermore, we show distinct functions for the nuclear and cytoplasmic MLA10 pools in disease resistance and cell death signaling and provide evidence for a model uncoupling MLA10 cell death signaling from its disease resistance activity. Our results suggest that plant immune receptors integrate signals from multiple sub-cellular compartments to coordinate effective immune responses against pathogen attack.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is closely associated with nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC), a human malignancy notorious for its highly metastatic nature. Among EBV-encoded genes, latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1) is expressed in most NPC tissues and exerts oncogenicity by engaging multiple signaling pathways in a ligand-independent manner. LMP1 expression also results in actin cytoskeleton reorganization, which modulates cell morphology and cell motility— cellular process regulated by RhoGTPases, such as Cdc42. Despite the prominent association of Cdc42 activation with tumorigenesis, the molecular basis of Cdc42 activation by LMP1 in NPC cells remains to be elucidated. Here using GST-CBD (active Cdc42-binding domain) as bait in GST pull-down assays to precipitate active Cdc42 from cell lysates, we demonstrated that LMP1 acts through its transmembrane domains to preferentially induce Cdc42 activation in various types of epithelial cells, including NPC cells. Using RNA interference combined with re-introduction experiments, we identified FGD4 (FYVE, RhoGEF and PH domain containing 4) as the GEF (guanine nucleotide exchange factor) responsible for the activation of Cdc42 by LMP1. Serial deletion experiments and co-immunoprecipitation assays further revealed that ectopically expressed FGD4 modulated LMP1-mediated Cdc42 activation by interacting with LMP1. Moreover, LMP1, through its transmembrane domains, directly bound FGD4 and enhanced FGD4 activity toward Cdc42, leading to actin cytoskeleton rearrangement and increased motility of NPC cells. Depletion of FGD4 or Cdc42 significantly reduced (∼50%) the LMP1-stimulated cell motility, an effect that was partially reversed by expression of a constitutively active mutant of Cdc42. Finally, quantitative RT-PCR and immunohistochemistry analyses showed that FGD4 and LMP1 were expressed in NPC tissues, supporting the potential physiologically relevance of this mechanism in NPC. Collectively, our results not only uncover a novel mechanism underlying LMP1-mediated Cdc42 activation, namely LMP1 interaction with FGD4, but also functionally link FGD4 to NPC tumorigenesis.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is closely associated with human malignancies, including nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). Among EBV-expressed genes, latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1) has been detected in most NPC tissues and has the ability to transform cell growth and drive cell migration, both of which are highly associated with tumorigenesis and tumor progression. Previous reports have demonstrated that cell migration primarily involves cytoskeleton rearrangement, and the RhoGTPase Cdc42 is known to actively mediate such rearrangement processes. Using LMP1-expressing NPC cells, we discovered that LMP1 induces Cdc42 activation by directly binding to FGD4, a positive regulator of Cdc42, thereby promoting motility of NPC cells. The observed correlation between FGD4 and LMP1 expression in NPC tissues provides support of physiological relevance. Notably, FGD4 has recently been shown to be responsible for a type of inherited neural disease. Our findings not only provide a novel insight into EBV pathogenesis, but also suggest a role for FGD4 in tumorigenesis.
The signaling of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) is the host's first line of defense against microbial invasion. The mitochondrion is emerging as a critical platform for antiviral signal transduction. The regulatory role of mitochondria for TLR signaling remains to be explored. Here, we show that the mitochondrial outer-membrane protein MARCH5 positively regulates TLR7 signaling. Ectopic expression or knockdown of MARCH5 enhances or impairs NF-κB-mediated gene expression, respectively. MARCH5 interacts specifically with TANK, and this interaction is enhanced by R837 stimulation. MARCH5 catalyzes the K63-linked poly-ubiquitination of TANK on its Lysines 229, 233, 280, 302 and 306, thus impairing the ability of TANK to inhibit TRAF6. Mislocalization of MARCH5 abolishes its action on TANK, revealing the critical role of mitochondria in modulating innate immunity. Arguably, this represents the first study linking mitochondria to TLR signaling.
In 2005, MAVS was characterized as the critical adaptor protein for the signal transduction of RIG-I-like receptors (RLRs). This provided the first link between mitochondria and the intracellular antiviral defense system. From then on, exploring the potential functions of novel mitochondrial proteins in microbe-host interactions became a rapidly expanding frontier. Notably, it remains unknown whether mitochondrial proteins can directly regulate TLR signaling. Here, we demonstrate that the mitochondrial protein MARCH5 positively modulates TLR7 signaling. Our study reveals that MARCH5 is a novel E3 ubiquitin ligase and catalyzes the K63-linked poly-ubiquitination of TANK. This modification releases the inhibitory effects of TANK on TRAF6. Arguably, this represents the first study linking mitochondria to TLR signaling, shedding new light on the role of mitochondria in the proinflammatory response.
Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is a major public health concern, with no effective vaccines currently available and 3% of the world's population being infected. Despite the existence of both B- and T-cell immunity in HCV-infected patients, chronic viral infection and HCV-related malignancies progress. Here we report the identification of a novel HCV TCR from an HLA-A2-restricted, HCV NS3:1073–1081-reactive CTL clone isolated from a patient with chronic HCV infection. We characterized this HCV TCR by expressing it in human T cells and analyzed the function of the resulting HCV TCR-transduced cells. Our results indicate that both the HCV TCR-transduced CD4+ and CD8+ T cells recognized the HCV NS3:1073–1081 peptide-loaded targets and HCV+ hepatocellular carcinoma cells (HCC) in a polyfunctional manner with cytokine (IFN-γ, IL-2, and TNF-α) production as well as cytotoxicity. Tumor cell recognition by HCV TCR transduced CD8− Jurkat cells and CD4+ PBL-derived T cells indicated this TCR was CD8-independent, a property consistent with other high affinity TCRs. HCV TCR-transduced T cells may be promising for the treatment of patients with chronic HCV infections.
Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) is a major public health concern with a large number of individuals infected (3% world wide). Currently, there is no effective vaccine available to prevent HCV infection and the treatment is effective in less than half of all patients. Therefore, many patients have long term infections that lead to severe liver damage or liver cancer. It has been shown that some HCV infected patients can eliminate the virus and the host immune system is involved. The problem is most people do not have the capacity to fight their HCV infection. We have developed a gene therapy based approach where a patient's own immune cells can be made to recognize cells expressing HCV genes. This can be accomplished regardless of his or her natural capacity to fight their HCV infection. This manuscript describes how normal immune cells can be genetically altered to recognize cells expressing HCV proteins and characterizes their reactivity and sensitivity to antigen stimulation.
Brucella melitensis is a facultative intracellular bacterium that causes brucellosis, the most prevalent zoonosis worldwide. The Brucella intracellular replicative niche in macrophages and dendritic cells thwarts immune surveillance and complicates both therapy and vaccine development. Currently, host-pathogen interactions supporting Brucella replication are poorly understood. Brucella fuses with the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) to replicate, resulting in dramatic restructuring of the ER. This ER disruption raises the possibility that Brucella provokes an ER stress response called the Unfolded Protein Response (UPR). In this study, B. melitensis infection up regulated expression of the UPR target genes BiP, CHOP, and ERdj4, and induced XBP1 mRNA splicing in murine macrophages. These data implicate activation of all 3 major signaling pathways of the UPR. Consistent with previous reports, XBP1 mRNA splicing was largely MyD88-dependent. However, up regulation of CHOP, and ERdj4 was completely MyD88 independent. Heat killed Brucella stimulated significantly less BiP, CHOP, and ERdj4 expression, but induced XBP1 splicing. Although a Brucella VirB mutant showed relatively intact UPR induction, a TcpB mutant had significantly compromised BiP, CHOP and ERdj4 expression. Purified TcpB, a protein recently identified to modulate microtubules in a manner similar to paclitaxel, also induced UPR target gene expression and resulted in dramatic restructuring of the ER. In contrast, infection with the TcpB mutant resulted in much less ER structural disruption. Finally, tauroursodeoxycholic acid, a pharmacologic chaperone that ameliorates the UPR, significantly impaired Brucella replication in macrophages. Together, these results suggest Brucella induces a UPR, via TcpB and potentially other factors, that enables its intracellular replication. Thus, the UPR may provide a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of brucellosis. These results also have implications for other intracellular bacteria that rely on host physiologic stress responses for replication.
Brucella melitensis is an intracellular bacterium that invades and replicates within macrophages and dendritic cells. With over 500,000 new infections per year, brucellosis is the most prevalent zoonosis worldwide and incurs significant human morbidity and economic loss. The intracellular location of Brucella renders the organism resistant to antibiotics. A safe and effective human vaccine does not exist. Thus, better understanding of the host-pathogen interactions supporting establishment of the intracellular replicative niche is critical. In this study, we found that infection of macrophages with Brucella induces a host stress response called the Unfolded Protein Response (UPR), a conserved stress response originating in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Full induction of the UPR requires live bacteria and expression of a microtubule modulating protein, TcpB. Inhibition of the UPR with the drug tauroursodeoxycholic acid significantly diminished Brucella replication. Together these results suggest Brucella induces the UPR to enable its own replication within host macrophages. Thus the UPR may represent a novel therapeutic target for the treatment of brucellosis.
Chronic infections with human viruses, such as HIV and HCV, or mouse viruses, such as LCMV or Friend Virus (FV), result in functional exhaustion of CD8+ T cells. Two main mechanisms have been described that mediate this exhaustion: expression of inhibitory receptors on CD8+ T cells and expansion of regulatory T cells (Tregs) that suppress CD8+ T cell activity. Several studies show that blockage of one of these pathways results in reactivation of CD8+ T cells and partial reduction in chronic viral loads. Using blocking antibodies against PD-1 ligand and Tim-3 and transgenic mice in which Tregs can be selectively ablated, we compared these two treatment strategies and combined them for the first time in a model of chronic retrovirus infection. Blocking inhibitory receptors was more efficient than transient depletion of Tregs in reactivating exhausted CD8+ T cells and reducing viral set points. However, a combination therapy was superior to any single treatment and further augmented CD8+ T cell responses and resulted in a sustained reduction in chronic viral loads. These results demonstrate that Tregs and inhibitory receptors are non-overlapping factors in the maintenance of chronic viral infections and that immunotherapies targeting both pathways may be a promising strategy to treat chronic infectious diseases.
A loss of function, the so-called ‘exhaustion’ of CD8+ T cells, is a hallmark of many chronic infections. The T cell exhaustion is mediated by two main mechanisms, the expression of inhibitory receptors on CD8+ T cells and virus-induced expansion of regulatory T cells (Tregs), which suppress CD8+ T cell activity. Several mouse studies revealed a reactivation of CD8+ T cells and reduction in chronic viral loads after blockage of one of these pathways. These results initiated a number of clinical studies mainly with cancer patients, in which blocking antibodies were used to interfere with inhibitory receptor signaling or drugs that deplete Tregs. For the first time we combined the two therapeutic approaches by using transgenic mice in which Tregs can be selectively ablated and injection of blocking antibodies in a chronic retroviral infection. The results indicate that the combination therapy was superior to any single treatment in further augmenting CD8+ T cell responses and reducing chronic viral loads. Our findings demonstrate that Tregs and inhibitory receptors are non-overlapping factors in the maintenance of chronic viral infections and that immunotherapies targeting both pathways may be a promising new strategy to treat chronic infectious diseases.
Broadly neutralizing HIV antibodies (bnAbs) are typically highly somatically mutated, raising doubts as to whether they can be elicited by vaccination. We used 454 sequencing and designed a novel phylogenetic method to model lineage evolution of the bnAbs PGT121–134 and found a positive correlation between the level of somatic hypermutation (SHM) and the development of neutralization breadth and potency. Strikingly, putative intermediates were characterized that show approximately half the mutation level of PGT121–134 but were still capable of neutralizing roughly 40–80% of PGT121–134 sensitive viruses in a 74-virus panel at median titers between 15- and 3-fold higher than PGT121–134. Such antibodies with lower levels of SHM may be more amenable to elicitation through vaccination while still providing noteworthy coverage. Binding characterization indicated a preference of inferred intermediates for native Env binding over monomeric gp120, suggesting that the PGT121–134 lineage may have been selected for binding to native Env at some point during maturation. Analysis of glycan-dependent neutralization for inferred intermediates identified additional adjacent glycans that comprise the epitope and suggests changes in glycan dependency or recognition over the course of affinity maturation for this lineage. Finally, patterns of neutralization of inferred bnAb intermediates suggest hypotheses as to how SHM may lead to potent and broad HIV neutralization and provide important clues for immunogen design.
A majority of the over 30 million HIV-1 infected individuals worldwide live in poorly resourced areas where multiple boost strategies, which are likely needed to generate highly mutated antibodies, present formidable logistical challenges. Accordingly, developing new vaccination strategies that are capable of generating highly mutated antibodies should be an active area of research. Another approach, that is not mutually exclusive, is to identify new bnAbs that are both broad and potent in neutralization, but are much less mutated than the bnAbs that currently exist. Here, we have identified bnAbs that are approximately half the mutation frequency of known bnAbs, but maintain high potency and moderate breadth. These less mutated bnAbs offer an important advantage in that they would likely be easier to induce through vaccination than more mutated antibodies. By characterizing these putative intermediates, we can also better estimate how affinity maturation proceeded to result in an antibody with broad and potent neutralization activity and offer more focused strategies for designing immunogens capable of eliciting these less mutated bnAbs.
Membrane fusion is essential for entry of the biomedically-important paramyxoviruses into their host cells (viral-cell fusion), and for syncytia formation (cell-cell fusion), often induced by paramyxoviral infections [e.g. those of the deadly Nipah virus (NiV)]. For most paramyxoviruses, membrane fusion requires two viral glycoproteins. Upon receptor binding, the attachment glycoprotein (HN/H/G) triggers the fusion glycoprotein (F) to undergo conformational changes that merge viral and/or cell membranes. However, a significant knowledge gap remains on how HN/H/G couples cell receptor binding to F-triggering. Via interdisciplinary approaches we report the first comprehensive mechanism of NiV membrane fusion triggering, involving three spatiotemporally sequential cell receptor-induced conformational steps in NiV-G: two in the head and one in the stalk. Interestingly, a headless NiV-G mutant was able to trigger NiV-F, and the two head conformational steps were required for the exposure of the stalk domain. Moreover, the headless NiV-G prematurely triggered NiV-F on virions, indicating that the NiV-G head prevents premature triggering of NiV-F on virions by concealing a F-triggering stalk domain until the correct time and place: receptor-binding. Based on these and recent paramyxovirus findings, we present a comprehensive and fundamentally conserved mechanistic model of paramyxovirus membrane fusion triggering and cell entry.
The medically-important Paramyxovirus family includes the deadly Nipah virus (NiV). After paramyxoviruses attach to a receptor at a cell surface, fusion between viral and cellular membranes must occur before the virus genetic material can enter the cell and replication of the virus inside the cell can begin. For most paramyxoviruses, viral/cell membrane fusion requires the concerted actions of two viral glycoproteins. After binding to a cell surface receptor, the viral attachment glycoprotein triggers the viral fusion glycoprotein to execute viral/cell membrane fusion so the genetic material of the virus can enter the cell. However, the mechanism of this receptor-induced triggering of membrane fusion is not well understood. We identified several sequential receptor-induced structural changes in the attachment glycoprotein of NiV that are part of the viral/cell membrane fusion-triggering cascade. Importantly, we propose a mechanism of cell receptor-induced paramyxovirus entry into cells, based on the findings described here, similarities between NiV and other paramyxoviruses, and other recent advances.
B-Lymphotropic Polyomavirus (LPyV) serves as a paradigm of virus receptor binding and tropism, and is the closest relative of the recently discovered Human Polyomavirus 9 (HPyV9). LPyV infection depends on sialic acid on host cells, but the molecular interactions underlying LPyV-receptor binding were unknown. We find by glycan array screening that LPyV specifically recognizes a linear carbohydrate motif that contains α2,3-linked sialic acid. High-resolution crystal structures of the LPyV capsid protein VP1 alone and in complex with the trisaccharide ligands 3′-sialyllactose and 3′-sialyl-N-acetyl-lactosamine (3SL and 3SLN, respectively) show essentially identical interactions. Most contacts are contributed by the sialic acid moiety, which is almost entirely buried in a narrow, preformed cleft at the outer surface of the capsid. The recessed nature of the binding site on VP1 and the nature of the observed glycan interactions differ from those of related polyomaviruses and most other sialic acid-binding viruses, which bind sialic acid in shallow, more exposed grooves. Despite their different modes for recognition, the sialic acid binding sites of LPyV and SV40 are half-conserved, hinting at an evolutionary strategy for diversification of binding sites. Our analysis provides a structural basis for the observed specificity of LPyV for linear glycan motifs terminating in α2,3-linked sialic acid, and links the different tropisms of known LPyV strains to the receptor binding site. It also serves as a useful template for understanding the ligand-binding properties and serological crossreactivity of HPyV9.
Viruses must engage specific receptors on host cells in order to initiate infection. The type of receptor and its concentration on cells determine viral spread and tropism, but for many viruses, the receptor and the mode of recognition by the virus are not known. We have characterized the structural requirements for receptor binding of B-lymphotropic polyomavirus (LPyV). This virus was originally isolated from African Green Monkey lymph node cultures and attracted interest because of its narrow tropism for a human tumor cell line. LPyV is also the closest relative of the recently discovered Human Polyomavirus 9 (HPyV9). We screened the LPyV coat protein VP1 on an carbohydrate microarray and found that it specifically recognizes a linear sugar motif that terminates in α2,3-linked sialic acid. We then determined the structures LPyV VP1 bound to these carbohydrates. The protein has a preformed, deeply recessed binding site for sialic acid. The binding site differs in both architecture and mode of recognition from the binding sites of other viruses. LPyV only binds linear carbohydrates that are able to penetrate into the binding slot.
Viruses within a family often vary in their cellular tropism and pathogenicity. In many cases, these variations are due to viruses switching their specificity from one cell surface receptor to another. The structural requirements that underlie such receptor switching are not well understood especially for carbohydrate-binding viruses, as methods capable of structure-specificity studies are only relatively recently being developed for carbohydrates. We have characterized the receptor specificity, structure and infectivity of the human polyomavirus BKPyV, the causative agent of polyomavirus-associated nephropathy, and uncover a molecular switch for binding different carbohydrate receptors. We show that the b-series gangliosides GD3, GD2, GD1b and GT1b all can serve as receptors for BKPyV. The crystal structure of the BKPyV capsid protein VP1 in complex with GD3 reveals contacts with two sialic acid moieties in the receptor, providing a basis for the observed specificity. Comparison with the structure of simian virus 40 (SV40) VP1 bound to ganglioside GM1 identifies the amino acid at position 68 as a determinant of specificity. Mutation of this residue from lysine in BKPyV to serine in SV40 switches the receptor specificity of BKPyV from GD3 to GM1 both in vitro and in cell culture. Our findings highlight the plasticity of viral receptor binding sites and form a template to retarget viruses to different receptors and cell types.
Viruses need to bind to receptors on host cells for viral entry and infection, and the type of receptor bound determines the range of hosts and tissues the virus can infect. Viruses within a family often vary in their tissue distribution and pathogenicity because changes in receptor specificity can produce a virus with different spread and infectivity. In fact, many transmissions between species are based on a virus acquiring binding capability for a new receptor. The structural changes that underlie such receptor switching are not well understood. We have analyzed the structural requirements for receptor binding and switching of the human BK polyomavirus (BKPyV), the causative agent of polyomavirus-associated nephropathy. We show that BKPyV uses specific gangliosides that all contain a common α2,8-disialic acid motif to infect cells, and have characterized the interaction in atomic detail. Our data explains the requirement for this disialic acid motif and in particular highlights a single amino acid that is central to determining specificity. Mutation of this residue switches the receptor specificity, enabling BKPyV to infect cells bearing a different class of gangliosides. Our findings highlight the plasticity of viral receptor binding sites and form a template to retarget viruses to different receptors and cell types.
Covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) of hepadnaviruses exists as an episomal minichromosome in the nucleus of infected hepatocyte and serves as the transcriptional template for viral mRNA synthesis. Elimination of cccDNA is the prerequisite for either a therapeutic cure or immunological resolution of HBV infection. Although accumulating evidence suggests that inflammatory cytokines-mediated cure of virally infected hepatocytes does occur and plays an essential role in the resolution of an acute HBV infection, the molecular mechanism by which the cytokines eliminate cccDNA and/or suppress its transcription remains elusive. This is largely due to the lack of convenient cell culture systems supporting efficient HBV infection and cccDNA formation to allow detailed molecular analyses. In this study, we took the advantage of a chicken hepatoma cell line that supports tetracycline-inducible duck hepatitis B virus (DHBV) replication and established an experimental condition mimicking the virally infected hepatocytes in which DHBV pregenomic (pg) RNA transcription and DNA replication are solely dependent on cccDNA. This cell culture system allowed us to demonstrate that cccDNA transcription required histone deacetylase activity and IFN-α induced a profound and long-lasting suppression of cccDNA transcription, which required protein synthesis and was associated with the reduction of acetylated histone H3 lysine 9 (H3K9) and 27 (H3K27) in cccDNA minichromosomes. Moreover, IFN-α treatment also induced a delayed response that appeared to accelerate the decay of cccDNA. Our studies have thus shed light on the molecular mechanism by which IFN-α noncytolytically controls hepadnavirus infection.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection affects approximately one-third of the world population and more than 350 million people are chronically infected by the virus, for which the currently available antiviral therapies fail to provide a cure. This is because the HBV DNA polymerase inhibitors have no direct effect on the nuclear form of HBV genome, the covalently closed circular (ccc) DNA. Elimination or transcriptional silencing of cccDNA is the prerequisite for either a therapeutic cure or immunological resolution of HBV infection. However, due to the lack of proper experimental systems, the molecular mechanism of cccDNA biosynthesis, maintenance and transcription regulation remains to be elucidated. We report herein the establishment of a cell-based assay where the replication of duck hepatitis B virus (DHBV), a close relative of HBV, is supported by cccDNA. This experimental system not only allows us to demonstrate the unique property of alpha-interferon suppression of cccDNA transcription, but also shows for the first time that DHBV cccDNA transcription requires histone deacetylase activity. It is conceivable that the principles revealed by studying DHBV cccDNA metabolism and transcription regulation should provide valuable insight in HBV cccDNA biology and clues for the development of therapeutics to control chronic hepatitis B.
Aspergillus fumigatus is the most common cause of invasive mold disease in humans. The mechanisms underlying the adherence of this mold to host cells and macromolecules have remained elusive. Using mutants with different adhesive properties and comparative transcriptomics, we discovered that the gene uge3, encoding a fungal epimerase, is required for adherence through mediating the synthesis of galactosaminogalactan. Galactosaminogalactan functions as the dominant adhesin of A. fumigatus and mediates adherence to plastic, fibronectin, and epithelial cells. In addition, galactosaminogalactan suppresses host inflammatory responses in vitro and in vivo, in part through masking cell wall β-glucans from recognition by dectin-1. Finally, galactosaminogalactan is essential for full virulence in two murine models of invasive aspergillosis. Collectively these data establish a role for galactosaminogalactan as a pivotal bifunctional virulence factor in the pathogenesis of invasive aspergillosis.
Invasive aspergillosis is the most common mold infection in humans, predominately affecting immunocompromised patients. The mechanisms by which the mold Aspergillus fumigatus adheres to host tissues and causes disease are poorly understood. In this report, we compared mutants of Aspergillus with different adhesive properties to identify fungal factors involved in adherence to host cells. This approach identified a cell wall associated polysaccharide, galactosaminogalactan, which is required for adherence to a wide variety of substrates. Galactosaminogalactan was also observed to suppress inflammation by concealing β-glucans, key pattern associated microbial pattern molecules in Aspergillus hyphae, from recognition by the innate immune system. Mutants that were deficient in galactosaminogalactan were less virulent in mouse models of invasive aspergillosis. These data identify a bifunctional role for galactosaminogalactan in the pathogenesis of invasive aspergillosis, and suggest that it may serve as a useful target for antifungal therapy.
Nuclear hormone receptors respond to small molecules such as retinoids or steroids and regulate development. Signaling in the conserved p38/PMK-1 MAP kinase pathway regulates innate immunity. In this study, we show that the Caenorhabditis elegans nuclear receptor DAF-12 negatively regulates the defense against pathogens via the downstream let-7 family of microRNAs, which directly target SKN-1, a gene downstream of PMK-1. These findings identify nuclear hormone receptors as components of innate immunity that crosstalk with the p38/PMK-1 MAP kinase pathway.
When infected by the Pseudomonas aeruginosa, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans invokes an innate immune response that protects the worm from pathogenic attack. The appropriate level of immune response in C. elegans requires the accurate regulation of multiple signal pathways, especially signals of repression, which attenuate the expression of pathogen-responsive genes. In the current study, we identified the nuclear hormone receptor DAF-12 and its downstream let-7 family of microRNAs, mir-84 and mir-241, are required for the regulation of C. elegans innate immunity against P. aeruginosa infection. Dafachronic acids, as DAF-12 ligands, can dramatically suppress the resistance of C. elegans to P. aeruginosa infection. Inhibition of the conserved PMK-1/p38 MAP kinase pathway can markedly attenuate the promoted resistance of daf-12 and let-7 family of microRNAs mutants to P. aureginosa infection. However, neither daf-12 nor let-7 family of microRNAs affect the activation of PMK-1/p38. Moreover, our data also reveals the role of SKN-1 in integrating the signals from the PMK-1/p38 MAPK and DAF-12-let-7s pathways to mediate the C. elegans innate immune response.
The zinc finger antiviral protein (ZAP) is a mammalian host restriction factor that inhibits the replication of a variety of RNA viruses, including retroviruses, alphaviruses and filoviruses, through interaction with the ZAP-responsive elements (ZRE) in viral RNA, and recruiting the exosome to degrade RNA substrate. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a pararetrovirus that replicates its genomic DNA via reverse transcription of a viral pregenomic (pg) RNA precursor. Here, we demonstrate that the two isoforms of human ZAP (hZAP-L and -S) inhibit HBV replication in human hepatocyte-derived cells through posttranscriptional down-regulation of viral pgRNA. Mechanistically, the zinc finger motif-containing N-terminus of hZAP is responsible for the reduction of HBV RNA, and the integrity of the four zinc finger motifs is essential for ZAP to bind to HBV RNA and fulfill its antiviral function. The ZRE sequences conferring the susceptibility of viral RNA to ZAP-mediated RNA decay were mapped to the terminal redundant region (nt 1820–1918) of HBV pgRNA. In agreement with its role as a host restriction factor and as an innate immune mediator for HBV infection, ZAP was upregulated in cultured primary human hepatocytes and hepatocyte-derived cells upon IFN-α treatment or IPS-1 activation, and in the livers of hepatitis B patients during immune active phase. Knock down of ZAP expression increased the level of HBV RNA and partially attenuated the antiviral effect elicited by IPS-1 in cell cultures. In summary, we demonstrated that ZAP is an intrinsic host antiviral factor with activity against HBV through down-regulation of viral RNA, and that ZAP plays a role in the innate control of HBV replication. Our findings thus shed light on virus-host interaction, viral pathogenesis, and antiviral approaches.
The dynamics of virus and host interaction greatly influence viral pathogenesis, and host cells have evolved multiple mechanisms to inhibit viral replication. Since it was first discovered as a cellular restriction factor for retroviruses, the host-encoded zinc finger antiviral protein (ZAP) has been shown to antagonize a variety of viral species, possibly through a common mechanism by which ZAP targets viral RNA for degradation. Here we report that hepatitis B virus (HBV) is also vulnerable to ZAP-mediated viral RNA reduction. ZAP is able to interact with HBV RNA through its zinc finger motifs, and the ZAP-responsive element which determines ZAP's antiviral specificity and activity is located within the 100-nucleotide-long terminal redundant region in the viral RNA genome. While the replication of HBV is constitutively restricted under the basal expression of intrahepatic ZAP, activation of host innate defenses, and potentially the acquired immune responses as well, could further elevate ZAP expression to suppress HBV replication. Therefore, our study not only expands the antiviral spectrum of ZAP, but also provides cumulative and novel information for a better understanding of ZAP biology and antiviral mechanisms. We also envision that the endogenous or engineered ZAP could be utilized in the future for development of therapeutic means to treat chronic hepatitis B, which currently affects more than 5% of the world's population.
Myxoma virus (MYXV)-encoded protein M029 is a member of the poxvirus E3 family of dsRNA-binding proteins that antagonize the cellular interferon signaling pathways. In order to investigate additional functions of M029, we have constructed a series of targeted M029-minus (vMyx-M029KO and vMyx-M029ID) and V5-tagged M029 MYXV. We found that M029 plays a pivotal role in determining the cellular tropism of MYXV in all mammalian cells tested. The M029-minus viruses were able to replicate only in engineered cell lines that stably express a complementing protein, such as vaccinia E3, but underwent abortive or abated infection in all other tested mammalian cell lines. The M029-minus viruses were dramatically attenuated in susceptible host European rabbits and caused no observable signs of myxomatosis. Using V5-tagged M029 virus, we observed that M029 expressed as an early viral protein is localized in both the nuclear and cytosolic compartments in virus-infected cells, and is also incorporated into virions. Using proteomic approaches, we have identified Protein Kinase R (PKR) and RNA helicase A (RHA)/DHX9 as two cellular binding partners of M029 protein. In virus-infected cells, M029 interacts with PKR in a dsRNA-dependent manner, while binding with DHX9 was not dependent on dsRNA. Significantly, PKR knockdown in human cells rescued the replication defect of the M029-knockout viruses. Unexpectedly, this rescue of M029-minus virus replication by PKR depletion could then be reversed by RHA/DHX9 knockdown in human monocytic THP1 cells. This indicates that M029 not only inhibits generic PKR anti-viral pathways, but also binds and conscripts RHA/DHX9 as a pro-viral effector to promote virus replication in THP1 cells. Thus, M029 is a critical host range and virulence factor for MYXV that is required for replication in all mammalian cells by antagonizing PKR-mediated anti-viral functions, and also conscripts pro-viral RHA/DHX9 to promote viral replication specifically in myeloid cells.
Poxviruses exploit diverse strategies to modulate host anti-viral responses in order to achieve broad cellular tropism and replication. Here we report the findings that Myxoma virus (MYXV), a rabbit-specific poxvirus, expresses a viral protein M029 that possesses dual immunomodulatory functions. M029 binds and inhibits the anti-viral functions of protein kinase R (PKR) and also binds and conscripts the pro-viral activities of another cellular protein, RNA helicase A (RHA/DHX9), a member of the DEXD/H box family of proteins. Engineered M029-minus MYXVs did not cause lethal disease myxomatosis in the European rabbits. M029-minus MYXVs were also unable to replicate in diverse mammalian cell types, but can be rescued by knocking down the expression of PKR. However, this rescue of M029-minus virus replication could then be reversed by RHA/DHX9 knockdown in human myeloid cells. These findings reveal a novel strategy used by a single viral immunomodulatory protein that both inhibits a host anti-viral factor and additionally conscripting a host pro-viral factor to expand viral tropism in a wider range of target mammalian cells.
The signaling of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) induces host defense against microbial invasion. Protein posttranslational modifications dynamically shape the strength and duration of the signaling pathways. It is intriguing to explore whether de-SUMOylation could modulate the TLR signaling. Here we identified SUMO-specific protease 6 (SENP6) as an intrinsic attenuator of the TLR-triggered inflammation. Depletion of SENP6 significantly potentiated the NF-κB-mediated induction of the proinflammatory genes. Consistently, SENP6-knockdown mice were more susceptible to endotoxin-induced sepsis. Mechanistically, the small ubiquitin-like modifier 2/3 (SUMO-2/3) is conjugated onto the Lysine residue 277 of NF-κB essential modifier (NEMO/IKKγ), and this impairs the deubiquitinase CYLD to bind NEMO, thus strengthening the inhibitor of κB kinase (IKK) activation. SENP6 reverses this process by catalyzing the de-SUMOylation of NEMO. Our study highlights the essential function of the SENP family in dampening TLR signaling and inflammation.
Given the double-edged nature of the TLR functions, the strength and duration of the TLR signaling are dynamically modulated via protein posttranslational modifications, which ensure that the invading microbes are quickly eliminated and the damages to the host are reduced to the minimum. Besides the ubiquitin, ubiquitin-like proteins are emerging as novel protein tags to fine-tune the TLR signaling. It is intriguing to explore how the SUMO-specific proteases (SENPs) contributes to balancing the SUMOylation status of the TLR signaling. Our study reveals that NEMO, a critical protein of the TLR signaling pathways, is covalently modified by SUMO-2/3. This modification is resversed by the de-SUMOylation activity of SENP6. Thus, SENP6 faciliates CYLD to bind NEMO and to remove the polyubiquitin chains on NEMO, ultimately dampening the IKK activation. This study sheds new light on the dynamic functions of the SUMOylation in restricting proinflammatory response.
A potent therapeutic T-cell vaccine may be an alternative treatment of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. Previously, we developed a DNA prime-adenovirus (AdV) boost vaccination protocol that could elicit strong and specific CD8+ T-cell responses to woodchuck hepatitis virus (WHV) core antigen (WHcAg) in mice. In the present study, we first examined whether this new prime-boost immunization could induce WHcAg-specific T-cell responses and effectively control WHV replication in the WHV-transgenic mouse model. Secondly, we evaluated the therapeutic effect of this new vaccination strategy in chronically WHV-infected woodchucks in combination with a potent antiviral treatment. Immunization of WHV-transgenic mice by DNA prime-AdV boost regimen elicited potent and functional WHcAg-specific CD8+ T-cell response that consequently resulted in the reduction of the WHV load below the detection limit in more than 70% of animals. The combination therapy of entecavir (ETV) treatment and DNA prime-AdV boost immunization in chronic WHV carriers resulted in WHsAg- and WHcAg-specific CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell responses, which were not detectable in ETV-only treated controls. Woodchucks receiving the combination therapy showed a prolonged suppression of WHV replication and lower WHsAg levels compared to controls. Moreover, two of four immunized carriers remained WHV negative after the end of ETV treatment and developed anti-WHs antibodies. These results demonstrate that the combined antiviral and vaccination approach efficiently elicited sustained immunological control of chronic hepadnaviral infection in woodchucks and may be a new promising therapeutic strategy in patients.
Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is one of the major causes of liver cirrhosis and liver cancer worldwide. Recommended treatment regimens of chronic hepatitis B based on interferon alpha and nucleot(s)ide analogues do not lead to the satisfactory results. Over the last 20 years, continuous efforts have been undertaken to develop new immunotherapeutic approaches for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B, however, without satisfactory results. We proposed here that the combination of potent antivirals with a prime-boost vaccination protocol that is inducing appropriate virus-specific T-cell responses may restore immune control over HBV. To test this hypothesis we performed a proof-of-principle experiment using woodchucks, a widely accepted animal model of chronic HBV infection. We pretreated animals with entecavir to suppress viral replication and immunized them by a prime-boost regimen with DNA vaccines expressing woodchuck hepatitis virus (WHV) surface and core antigens and adenoviral vectors expressing WHV core antigen. Consistent with our hypothesis, the combination therapy achieved a stronger antiviral effect than the monotherapy alone, leading to sustained immunological control of chronic WHV infection and viral clearance in some animals. These data are encouraging and implicate the feasibility and usefulness of the immunotherapeutic strategies for the treatment of chronically HBV-infected patients.