Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV), an ambisense member of the family Bunyaviridae, genus Phlebovirus, is the causative agent of Rift Valley fever, an important zoonotic infection in Africa and the Middle East. Phlebovirus proteins are translated from virally transcribed mRNAs that, like host mRNA, are capped but, unlike host mRNAs, are not polyadenylated. Here, we investigated the role of PABP1 during RVFV infection of HeLa cells. Immunofluorescence studies of infected cells demonstrated a gross relocalization of PABP1 to the nucleus late in infection. Immunofluorescence microscopy studies of nuclear proteins revealed costaining between PABP1 and markers of nuclear speckles. PABP1 relocalization was sharply decreased in cells infected with a strain of RVFV lacking the gene encoding the RVFV nonstructural protein S (NSs). To determine whether PABP1 was required for RVFV infection, we measured the production of nucleocapsid protein (N) in cells transfected with small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) targeting PABP1. We found that the overall percentage of RVFV N-positive cells was not changed by siRNA treatment, indicating that PABP1 was not required for RVFV infection. However, when we analyzed populations of cells producing high versus low levels of PABP1, we found that the percentage of RVFV N-positive cells was decreased in cell populations producing physiologic levels of PABP1 and increased in cells with reduced levels of PABP1. Together, these results suggest that production of the NSs protein during RVFV infection leads to sequestration of PABP1 in the nuclear speckles, creating a state within the cell that favors viral protein production.
We show that interferon-induced transmembrane protein 1 (IFITM-1), IFITM-2, and IFITM-3 exhibit a broad spectrum of antiviral activity against several members of the Bunyaviridae family, including Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV), La Crosse virus, Andes virus, and Hantaan virus, all of which can cause severe disease in humans and animals. We found that RVFV was restricted by IFITM-2 and -3 but not by IFITM-1, whereas the remaining viruses were equally restricted by all IFITMs. Indeed, at low doses of alpha interferon (IFN-?), IFITM-2 and -3 mediated more than half of the antiviral activity of IFN-? against RVFV. IFITM-2 and -3 restricted RVFV infection mostly by preventing virus membrane fusion with endosomes, while they had no effect on virion attachment to cells, endocytosis, or viral replication kinetics. We found that large fractions of IFITM-2 and IFITM-3 occupy vesicular compartments that are distinct from the vesicles coated by IFITM-1. In addition, although overexpression of all IFITMs expanded vesicular and acidified compartments within cells, there were marked phenotypic differences among the vesicular compartments occupied by IFITMs. Collectively, our data provide new insights into the possible mechanisms by which the IFITM family members restrict distinct viruses.
The early events in Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV) have not been completely characterized. Earlier work indicated that CCHFV likely enters cells by clathrin-mediated endocytosis (CME). Here we provide confirmatory evidence for CME entry by showing that CCHFV infection is inhibited in cells treated with Pitstop 2, a drug that specifically and reversibly interferes with the dynamics of clathrin-coated pits. Additionally, we show that CCHFV infection is inhibited by siRNA depletion of the clathrin pit associated protein AP-2. Following CME entry, we show that CCHFV has a pH-dependent entry step, with virus inactivation occurring at pH 6.0 and below. To more precisely define the endosomal trafficking of CCHFV, we show for the first time that overexpression of the dominant negative forms of Rab5 protein but not Rab7 protein inhibits CCHFV infection. These results indicate that CCHFV likely enters cells through the early endosomal compartment.
Developing vaccines for highly pathogenic viruses such as those causing Lassa, Ebola, and Marburg hemorrhagic fevers is a daunting task due to both scientific and logistical constraints. Scientific hurdles to overcome include poorly defined relationships between pathogenicity and protective immune responses, genetic diversity of viruses, and safety in a target population that includes a large number of individuals with compromised immune systems. Logistical obstacles include the requirement for biosafety level-4 containment to study the authentic viruses, the poor public health infrastructure of the endemic disease areas, and the cost of developing these vaccines for use in non-lucrative markets. Recombinant DNA-based vaccine approaches offer promise of overcoming some of these issues. In this review, we consider the status of various recombinant DNA candidate vaccines against Lassa virus and filoviruses which have been tested in animals.
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