Viruses require host cell metabolism to provide the necessary energy and biosynthetic precursors for successful viral replication. Vaccinia virus (VACV) is a member of the Poxviridae family, and its use as a vaccine enabled the eradication of variola virus, the etiologic agent of smallpox. A global metabolic screen of VACV-infected primary human foreskin fibroblasts suggested that glutamine metabolism is altered during infection. Glutamine and glucose represent the two main carbon sources for mammalian cells. Depriving VACV-infected cells of exogenous glutamine led to a substantial decrease in infectious virus production, whereas starving infected cells of exogenous glucose had no significant impact on replication. Viral yield in glutamine-deprived cells or in cells treated with an inhibitor of glutaminolysis, the pathway of glutamine catabolism, could be rescued by the addition of multiple tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle intermediates. Thus, VACV infection induces a metabolic alteration to fully rely on glutamine to anaplerotically maintain the TCA cycle. VACV protein synthesis, but not viral transcription, was decreased in glutamine-deprived cells, which corresponded with a dramatic reduction in all VACV morphogenetic intermediates. This study reveals the unique carbon utilization program implemented during poxvirus infection and provides a potential metabolic pathway to target viral replication.
Viral fusogenic envelope proteins are important targets for the development of inhibitors of viral entry. We report an approach for the computational design of peptide inhibitors of the dengue 2 virus (DENV-2) envelope (E) protein using high-resolution structural data from a pre-entry dimeric form of the protein. By using predictive strategies together with computational optimization of binding "pseudoenergies", we were able to design multiple peptide sequences that showed low micromolar viral entry inhibitory activity. The two most active peptides, DN57opt and 1OAN1, were designed to displace regions in the domain II hinge, and the first domain I/domain II beta sheet connection, respectively, and show fifty percent inhibitory concentrations of 8 and 7 microM respectively in a focus forming unit assay. The antiviral peptides were shown to interfere with virus:cell binding, interact directly with the E proteins and also cause changes to the viral surface using biolayer interferometry and cryo-electron microscopy, respectively. These peptides may be useful for characterization of intermediate states in the membrane fusion process, investigation of DENV receptor molecules, and as lead compounds for drug discovery.
Antibodies produced in response to infection with any of the four serotypes of dengue virus generally provide homotypic immunity. However, prior infection or circulating maternal antibodies can also mediate a non-protective antibody response that can enhance the course of disease in a subsequent heterotypic infection. Naturally occurring human monoclonal antibodies can help us understand the protective and pathogenic roles of the humoral immune system in dengue virus infection.
Dengue virus infects approximately 100 million people annually, but there is no available therapeutic treatment. The mimetic peptide, DN59, consists of residues corresponding to the membrane interacting, amphipathic stem region of the dengue virus envelope (E) glycoprotein. This peptide is inhibitory to all four serotypes of dengue virus, as well as other flaviviruses. Cryo-electron microscopy image reconstruction of dengue virus particles incubated with DN59 showed that the virus particles were largely empty, concurrent with the formation of holes at the five-fold vertices. The release of RNA from the viral particle following incubation with DN59 was confirmed by increased sensitivity of the RNA genome to exogenous RNase and separation of the genome from the E protein in a tartrate density gradient. DN59 interacted strongly with synthetic lipid vesicles and caused membrane disruptions, but was found to be non-toxic to mammalian and insect cells. Thus DN59 inhibits flavivirus infectivity by interacting directly with virus particles resulting in release of the genomic RNA.
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