Angiogenesis is crucial for many pathological processes and becomes a therapeutic strategy against diseases ranging from inflammation to cancer. The regulatory mechanism of angiogenesis remains unclear. Although tetraspanin CD82 is widely expressed in various endothelial cells (ECs), its vascular function is unknown.
During cell-to-cell transmission of HIV-1, viral and cellular proteins transiently accumulate at the contact zone between infected (producer) and uninfected (target) cells, forming the virological synapse. Rearrangements of the cytoskeleton in producer and target cells are required for proper targeting of viral and cellular components during synapse formation, yet little is known about how these processes are regulated, particularly within the producer cell. Since ezrin-radixin-moesin (ERM) proteins connect F-actin with integral and peripheral membrane proteins, are incorporated into virions, and interact with cellular components of the virological presynapse, we hypothesized that they play roles during the late stage of HIV-1 replication. Here we document that phosphorylated (i.e., active) ezrin specifically accumulates at the HIV-1 presynapse in T cell lines and primary CD4(+) lymphocytes. To investigate whether ezrin supports virus transmission, we sought to ablate ezrin expression in producer cells. While cells did not tolerate a complete knockdown of ezrin, even a modest reduction of ezrin expression (~50%) in HIV-1-producing cells led to the release of particles with impaired infectivity. Further, when cocultured with uninfected target cells, ezrin-knockdown producer cells displayed reduced accumulation of the tetraspanin CD81 at the synapse and fused more readily with target cells, thus forming syncytia. Such an outcome likely is not optimal for virus dissemination, as evidenced by the fact that, in vivo, only relatively few infected cells form syncytia. Thus, ezrin likely helps secure efficient virus spread not only by enhancing virion infectivity but also by preventing excessive membrane fusion at the virological synapse.
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) transmission takes place primarily through cell-cell contacts known as virological synapses. Formation of these transient adhesions between infected and uninfected cells can lead to transmission of viral particles followed by separation of the cells. Alternatively, the cells can fuse, thus forming a syncytium. Tetraspanins, small scaffolding proteins that are enriched in HIV-1 virions and actively recruited to viral assembly sites, have been found to negatively regulate HIV-1 Env-induced cell-cell fusion. How these transmembrane proteins inhibit membrane fusion, however, is currently not known. As a first step towards elucidating the mechanism of fusion repression by tetraspanins, e.g., CD9 and CD63, we sought to identify the stage of the fusion process during which they operate. Using a chemical epistasis approach, four fusion inhibitors were employed in tandem with CD9 overexpression. Cells overexpressing CD9 were found to be sensitized to inhibitors targeting the pre-hairpin and hemifusion intermediates, while they were desensitized to an inhibitor of the pore expansion stage. Together with the results of a microscopy-based dye transfer assay, which revealed CD9- and CD63-induced hemifusion arrest, our investigations strongly suggest that tetraspanins block HIV-1-induced cell-cell fusion at the transition from hemifusion to pore opening.
HIV-1 Env mediates virus attachment to and fusion with target cell membranes, and yet, while Env is still situated at the plasma membrane of the producer cell and before its incorporation into newly formed particles, Env already interacts with the viral receptor CD4 on target cells, thus enabling the formation of transient cell contacts that facilitate the transmission of viral particles. During this first encounter with the receptor, Env must not induce membrane fusion, as this would prevent the producer cell and the target cell from separating upon virus transmission, but how Envs fusion activity is controlled remains unclear. To gain a better understanding of the Env regulation that precedes viral transmission, we examined the nanoscale organization of Env at the surface of producer cells. Utilizing superresolution microscopy (stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy [STORM]) and fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP), we quantitatively assessed the clustering and dynamics of Env upon its arrival at the plasma membrane. We found that Gag assembly induced the aggregation of small Env clusters into larger domains and that these domains were completely immobile. Truncation of the cytoplasmic tail (CT) of Env abrogated Gags ability to induce Env clustering and restored Env mobility at assembly sites, both of which correlated with increased Env-induced fusion of infected and uninfected cells. Hence, while Env trapping by Gag secures Env incorporation into viral particles, Env clustering and its sequestration at assembly sites likely also leads to the repression of its fusion function, and thus, by preventing the formation of syncytia, Gag helps to secure efficient transfer of viral particles to target cells.
Arenaviruses and hantaviruses cause severe human disease. Little is known regarding host proteins required for their propagation. We identified human proteins that interact with the glycoproteins (GPs) of a prototypic arenavirus and hantavirus and show that the lectin endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-Golgi intermediate compartment 53 kDa protein (ERGIC-53), a cargo receptor required for glycoprotein trafficking within the early exocytic pathway, associates with arenavirus, hantavirus, coronavirus, orthomyxovirus, and filovirus GPs. ERGIC-53 binds to arenavirus GPs through a lectin-independent mechanism, traffics to arenavirus budding sites, and is incorporated into virions. ERGIC-53 is required for arenavirus, coronavirus, and filovirus propagation; in its absence, GP-containing virus particles form but are noninfectious, due in part to their inability to attach to host cells. Thus, we have identified a class of pathogen-derived ERGIC-53 ligands, a lectin-independent basis for their association with ERGIC-53, and a role for ERGIC-53 in the propagation of several highly pathogenic RNA virus families.
Rather than being separated by discrete boundaries, the different phases of viral replication cycles partially overlap one another. In this issue, Dale et al. (2011) describe a remarkable example of this phenomenon: HIV-1 matures, and thus becomes infectious, but only after it has already started entering target cells.
By virtue of their multiple interactions with partner proteins and due to their strong propensity to multimerize, tetraspanins create scaffolds in membranes, recruiting or excluding specific proteins needed for particular cellular processes. We and others have shown that (i) HIV-1 assembles at, and buds through, membrane areas that are enriched in tetraspanins CD9, CD63, CD81 and CD82, and (ii) the presence of these proteins at exit sites and in viral particles inhibits virus-induced membrane fusion. In the present paper, I review these findings and briefly discuss the results of our ongoing investigations that are aimed at elucidating when and how tetraspanins regulate this fusion process and how such control affects virus spreading. Finally, I give a preview of studies that we have initiated more recently and which aim to delineate exactly when CD81 functions during the replication of another enveloped RNA virus: influenza virus.
Polypyrimidine Tract Binding (PTB) protein is a regulator of mRNA processing and translation. Genetic screens and studies of wing and bristle development during the post-embryonic stages of Drosophila suggest that it is a negative regulator of the Notch pathway. How PTB regulates the Notch pathway is unknown. Our studies of Drosophila embryogenesis indicate that (1) the Notch mRNA is a potential target of PTB, (2) PTB and Notch functions in the dorso-lateral regions of the Drosophila embryo are linked to actin regulation but not their functions in the ventral region, and (3) the actin-related Notch activity in the dorso-lateral regions might require a Notch activity at or near the cell surface that is different from the nuclear Notch activity involved in cell fate specification in the ventral region. These data raise the possibility that the Drosophila embryo is divided into zones of different PTB and Notch activities based on whether or not they are linked to actin regulation. They also provide clues to the almost forgotten role of Notch in cell adhesion and reveal a role for the Notch pathway in cell fusions.
Partitioning of membrane proteins into various types of microdomains is crucial for many cellular functions. Tetraspanin-enriched microdomains (TEMs) are a unique type of protein-based microdomain, clearly distinct from membrane rafts, and important for several cellular processes such as fusion, migration and signaling. Paradoxically, HIV-1 assembly/egress occurs at TEMs, yet the viral particles also incorporate raft lipids. Using different quantitative microscopy approaches, we investigated the dynamic relationship between TEMs, membrane rafts and HIV-1 exit sites, focusing mainly on the tetraspanin CD9. Our results show that clustering of CD9 correlates with multimerization of the major viral structural component, Gag, at the plasma membrane. CD9 exhibited confined behavior and reduced lateral mobility at viral assembly sites, suggesting that Gag locally traps tetraspanins. In contrast, the raft lipid GM1 and the raft-associated protein CD55, while also recruited to assembly/budding sites, were only transiently trapped in these membrane areas. CD9 recruitment and confinement were found to be partially dependent on cholesterol, while those of CD55 were completely dependent on cholesterol. Importantly, our findings support the emerging concept that cellular and viral components, instead of clustering at preexisting microdomain platforms, direct the formation of distinct domains for the execution of specific functions.
Tetraspanins are small integral membrane proteins that are known to control a variety of cellular processes, including signaling, migration and cell-cell fusion. Research over the past few years established that they are also regulators of various steps in the HIV-1 replication cycle, but the mechanisms through which these proteins either enhance or repress virus spread remain largely unknown.
In vitro propagation studies have established that human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is most efficiently transmitted at the virological synapse that forms between producer and target cells. Despite the presence of the viral envelope glycoprotein (Env) and CD4 and chemokine receptors at the respective surfaces, producer and target cells usually do not fuse with each other but disengage after the viral particles have been delivered, consistent with the idea that syncytia, at least in vitro, are not required for HIV-1 spread. Here, we tested whether tetraspanins, which are well known regulators of cellular membrane fusion processes that are enriched at HIV-1 exit sites, regulate syncytium formation. We found that overexpression of tetraspanins in producer cells leads to reduced syncytium formation, while downregulation has the opposite effect. Further, we document that repression of Env-induced cell-cell fusion by tetraspanins depends on the presence of viral Gag, and we demonstrate that fusion repression requires the recruitment of Env by Gag to tetraspanin-enriched microdomains (TEMs). However, sensitivity to fusion repression by tetraspanins varied for different viral strains, despite comparable recruitment of their Envs to TEMs. Overall, these data establish tetraspanins as negative regulators of HIV-1-induced cell-cell fusion, and they start delineating the requirements for this regulation.
The presence of the tetraspanins CD9, CD63, CD81 and CD82 at HIV-1 budding sites, at the virological synapse (VS), and their enrichment in HIV-1 virions has been well-documented, but it remained unclear if these proteins play a role in the late phase of the viral replication cycle. Here we used overexpression and knockdown approaches to address this question.
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