Coordinated interplay between membrane proteins and the lipid bilayer is required for such processes as transporter function and the entrance of enveloped viruses into host cells. In this study, three-dimensional cryo-electron microscopy density maps of mature and immature flaviviruses were analyzed to assess the curvature of the membrane leaflets and its relation to membrane-bound viral glycoproteins. The overall morphology of the viral membrane is determined by the icosahedral scaffold composed of envelope (E) and membrane (M) proteins through interaction of the proteins stem-anchor regions with the membrane. In localized regions, small membrane areas exhibit convex, concave, flat or saddle-shaped surfaces that are constrained by the specific protein organization within each membrane leaflet. These results suggest that the organization of membrane proteins in small enveloped viruses mediate the formation of membrane curvature.
A cryoelectron microscopy 8.5 ? resolution map of the 1,900 ? diameter, icosahedral, internally enveloped Paramecium bursaria chlorella virus was used to interpret structures of the virus at initial stages of cell infection. A fivefold averaged map demonstrated that two minor capsid proteins involved in stabilizing the capsid are missing in the vicinity of the unique vertex. Reconstruction of the virus in the presence of host chlorella cell walls established that the spike at the unique vertex initiates binding to the cell wall, which results in the enveloped nucleocapsid moving closer to the cell. This process is concurrent with the release of the internal viral membrane that was linked to the capsid by many copies of a viral membrane protein in the mature infectous virus. Simultaneously, part of the trisymmetrons around the unique vertex disassemble, probably in part because two minor capsid proteins are absent, causing Paramecium bursaria chlorella virus and the cellular contents to merge, possibly as a result of enzyme(s) within the spike assembly. This may be one of only a few recordings of successive stages of a virus while infecting a eukaryotic host in pseudoatomic detail in three dimensions.
A three-dimensional reconstruction of Sindbis virus at 7.0 Å resolution presented here provides a detailed view of the virion structure and includes structural evidence for key interactions that occur between the capsid protein (CP) and transmembrane (TM) glycoproteins E1 and E2. Based on crystal structures of component proteins and homology modeling, we constructed a nearly complete, pseudo-atomic model of the virus. Notably, this includes identification of the 33-residue cytoplasmic domain of E2 (cdE2), which follows a path from the E2 TM helix to the CP where it enters and exits the CP hydrophobic pocket and then folds back to contact the viral membrane. Modeling analysis identified three major contact regions between cdE2 and CP, and the roles of specific residues were probed by molecular genetics. This identified R393 and E395 of cdE2 and Y162 and K252 of CP as critical for virus assembly. The N-termini of the CPs form a contiguous network that interconnects 12 pentameric and 30 hexameric CP capsomers. A single glycoprotein spike cross-links three neighboring CP capsomers as might occur during initiation of virus budding.
Micelle-based siRNA carriers ("micelleplexes") were prepared from the A-B-C triblock copolymer poly(ethylene glycol)-poly(n-butyl acrylate)-poly(2-(dimethylamino)ethyl methacrylate) (PEG-PnBA-PDMAEMA), and their in vitro performance and in vivo biodistribution properties were compared with the benchmark PEGylated and basic polycation systems PEG-PDMAEMA and PDMAEMA, respectively. The micelle architecture, incorporating increased PEG shielding and a larger particle size (?50 nm) than polycation-based complexes (polyplexes; ?10 nm), enhances siRNA delivery performance in two important aspects: in vitro gene silencing efficiency and in vivo tumor accumulation. The in vitro gene silencing efficiency of the micelleplexes (24% in HeLa cells) was significantly better than the statistically insignificant levels observed for PDMAEMA and PEG-PDMAEMA polyplexes under identical conditions. This enhancement is linked to the different mechanisms by which micelleplexes are internalized (i.e., caveolar, etc.) compared to PDMAEMA and PEG-PDMAEMA polyplexes. Folate-functionalization significantly improved micelleplex uptake but had negligible influence on gene-silencing efficiency, suggesting that this parameter is not limited by cellular internalization. In vivo biodistribution analysis revealed that siRNA delivered by micelleplexes was more effectively accumulated and retained in tumor tissues than that delivered by PEGylated polyplexes. Overall, the micelle particle size and architecture appear to improve in vitro and in vivo delivery characteristics without significantly changing other properties, such as cytotoxicity and resistance to enzymes and dissociation. The self-assembled nature of micelleplexes is expected to enable incorporation of imaging modalities inside the hydrophobic micelle core, thus combining therapeutic and diagnostic capabilities. The findings from the present study suggest that the micelleplex-type carrier architecture is a useful platform for potential theranostic and tumor-targeting applications.
Hantaan virus is the prototypic member of the Hantavirus genus within the family Bunyaviridae and is a causative agent of the potentially fatal hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome. The Bunyaviridae are a family of negative-sense RNA viruses with three-part segmented genomes. Virions are enveloped and decorated with spikes derived from a pair of glycoproteins (Gn and Gc). Here, we present cryo-electron tomography and single-particle cryo-electron microscopy studies of Hantaan virus virions. We have determined the structure of the tetrameric Gn-Gc spike complex to a resolution of 2.5 nm and show that spikes are ordered in lattices on the virion surface. Large cytoplasmic extensions associated with each Gn-Gc spike also form a lattice on the inner surface of the viral membrane. Rod-shaped ribonucleoprotein complexes are arranged into nearly parallel pairs and triplets within virions. Our results differ from the T=12 icosahedral organization found for some bunyaviruses. However, a comparison of our results with the previous tomographic studies of the nonpathogenic Tula hantavirus indicates a common structural organization for hantaviruses.
Many flaviviruses are significant human pathogens, with the humoral immune response playing an essential role in restricting infection and disease. CR4354, a human monoclonal antibody isolated from a patient, neutralizes West Nile virus (WNV) infection at a postattachment stage in the viral life-cycle. Here, we determined the structure of WNV complexed with Fab fragments of CR4354 using cryoelectron microscopy. The outer glycoprotein shell of a mature WNV particle is formed by 30 rafts of three homodimers of the viral surface protein E. CR4354 binds to a discontinuous epitope formed by protein segments from two neighboring E molecules, but does not cause any detectable structural disturbance on the viral surface. The epitope occurs at two independent positions within an icosahedral asymmetric unit, resulting in 120 binding sites on the viral surface. The cross-linking of the six E monomers within one raft by four CR4354 Fab fragments suggests that the antibody neutralizes WNV by blocking the pH-induced rearrangement of the E protein required for virus fusion with the endosomal membrane.
Echovirus 7 (EV7) belongs to the Enterovirus genus within the family Picornaviridae. Many picornaviruses use IgG-like receptors that bind in the viral canyon and are required to initiate viral uncoating during infection. However, in addition, some of the enteroviruses use an alternative or additional receptor that binds outside the canyon. Decay-accelerating factor (DAF) has been identified as a cellular receptor for EV7. The crystal structure of EV7 has been determined to 3.1-Å resolution and used to interpret the 7.2-Å-resolution cryo-electron microscopy reconstruction of EV7 complexed with DAF. Each DAF binding site on EV7 is near a 2-fold icosahedral symmetry axis, which differs from the binding site of DAF on the surface of coxsackievirus B3, indicating that there are independent evolutionary processes by which DAF was selected as a picornavirus accessory receptor. This suggests that there is an advantage for these viruses to recognize DAF during the initial process of infection.
During dengue virus replication, an incomplete cleavage of the envelope glycoprotein prM, generates a mixture of mature (prM-less) and prM-containing, immature extracellular particles. In this study, sequential immunoprecipitation and cryoelectron microscopy revealed a third type of extracellular particles, the partially mature particles, as the major prM-containing particles in a dengue serotype 2 virus. Changes in the proportion of viral particles in the pr-M junction mutants exhibiting altered levels of prM cleavage suggest that the partially mature particles may represent an intermediate subpopulation in the virus maturation pathway. These findings are consistent with a model suggesting the progressive mode of prM cleavage.
During cell entry of flaviviruses, low endosomal pH triggers the rearrangement of the viral surface glycoproteins to a fusion-active state that allows the release of the infectious RNA into the cytoplasm. In this work, West Nile virus was complexed with Fab fragments of the neutralizing mAb E16 and was subsequently exposed to low pH, trapping the virions in a pre-fusion intermediate state. The structure of the complex was studied by cryo-electron microscopy and provides the first structural glimpse of a flavivirus fusion intermediate near physiological conditions. A radial expansion of the outer protein layer of the virion was observed compared to the structure at pH 8. The resulting approximately 60 A-wide shell of low density between lipid bilayer and outer protein layer is likely traversed by the stem region of the E glycoprotein. By using antibody fragments, we have captured a structural intermediate of a virus that likely occurs during cell entry. The trapping of structural transition states by antibody fragments will be applicable for other processes in the flavivirus life cycle and delineating other cellular events that involve conformational rearrangements.
Paramecium bursaria Chlorella virus-1 is an icosahedrally shaped, 1,900-A-diameter virus that infects unicellular eukaryotic green algae. A 5-fold symmetric, 3D reconstruction using cryoelectron microscopy images has now shown that the quasiicosahedral virus has a unique vertex, with a pocket on the inside and a spike structure on the outside of the capsid. The pocket might contain enzymes for use in the initial stages of infection. The unique vertex consists of virally coded proteins, some of which have been identified. Comparison of shape, size, and location of the spike with similar features in bacteriophages T4 and P22 suggests that the spike might be a cell-puncturing device. Similar asymmetric features may have been missed in previous analyses of many other viruses that had been assumed to be perfectly icosahedral.
Flaviviruses are a group of human pathogens causing severe encephalitic or hemorrhagic diseases that include West Nile, dengue and yellow fever viruses. Here, using X-ray crystallography we have defined the structure of the flavivirus cross-reactive antibody E53 that engages the highly conserved fusion loop of the West Nile virus envelope glycoprotein. Using cryo-electron microscopy, we also determined that E53 Fab binds preferentially to spikes in noninfectious, immature flavivirions but is unable to bind significantly to mature virions, consistent with the limited solvent exposure of the epitope. We conclude that the neutralizing impact of E53 and likely similar fusion-loop-specific antibodies depends on its binding to the frequently observed immature component of flavivirus particles. Our results elucidate how fusion-loop antibodies, which comprise a significant fraction of the humoral response against flaviviruses, can function to control infection without appreciably recognizing mature virions. As these highly cross-reactive antibodies are often weakly neutralizing they also may contribute to antibody-dependent enhancement and flavi virus pathogenesis thereby complicating development of safe and effective vaccines.
The structures of canine parvovirus (CPV) and feline parvovirus (FPV) complexed with antibody fragments from eight different neutralizing monoclonal antibodies were determined by cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM) reconstruction to resolutions varying from 8.5 to 18 A. The crystal structure of one of the Fab molecules and the sequence of the variable domain for each of the Fab molecules have been determined. The structures of Fab fragments not determined crystallographically were predicted by homology modeling according to the amino acid sequence. Fitting of the Fab and virus structures into the cryoEM densities identified the footprints of each antibody on the viral surface. As anticipated from earlier analyses, the Fab binding sites are directed to two epitopes, A and B. The A site is on an exposed part of the surface near an icosahedral threefold axis, whereas the B site is about equidistant from the surrounding five-, three-, and twofold axes. One antibody directed to the A site binds CPV but not FPV. Two of the antibodies directed to the B site neutralize the virus as Fab fragments. The differences in antibody properties have been linked to the amino acids within the antibody footprints, the position of the binding site relative to the icosahedral symmetry elements, and the orientation of the Fab structure relative to the surface of the virus. Most of the exposed surface area was antigenic, although each of the antibodies had a common area of overlap that coincided with the positions of the previously mapped escape mutations.
Mimivirus is the largest known virus whose genome and physical size are comparable to some small bacteria, blurring the boundary between a virus and a cell. Structural studies of Mimivirus have been difficult because of its size and long surface fibers. Here we report the use of enzymatic digestions to remove the surface fibers of Mimivirus in order to expose the surface of the viral capsid. Cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM) and atomic force microscopy were able to show that the 20 icosahedral faces of Mimivirus capsids have hexagonal arrays of depressions. Each depression is surrounded by six trimeric capsomers that are similar in structure to those in many other large, icosahedral double-stranded DNA viruses. Whereas in most viruses these capsomers are hexagonally close-packed with the same orientation in each face, in Mimivirus there are vacancies at the systematic depressions with neighboring capsomers differing in orientation by 60 degrees . The previously observed starfish-shaped feature is well-resolved and found to be on each virus particle and is associated with a special pentameric vertex. The arms of the starfish fit into the gaps between the five faces surrounding the unique vertex, acting as a seal. Furthermore, the enveloped nucleocapsid is accurately positioned and oriented within the capsid with a concave surface facing the unique vertex. Thus, the starfish-shaped feature and the organization of the nucleocapsid might regulate the delivery of the genome to the host. The structure of Mimivirus, as well as the various fiber components observed in the virus, suggests that the Mimivirus genome includes genes derived from both eukaryotic and prokaryotic organisms. The three-dimensional cryoEM reconstruction reported here is of a virus with a volume that is one order of magnitude larger than any previously reported molecular assembly studied at a resolution of equal to or better than 65 Angstroms.
Chilo iridescent virus (CIV) is a large (approximately 1850 A diameter) insect virus with an icosahedral, T=147 capsid, a double-stranded DNA (dsDNA) genome, and an internal lipid membrane. The structure of CIV was determined to 13 A resolution by means of cryoelectron microscopy (cryoEM) and three-dimensional image reconstruction. A homology model of P50, the CIV major capsid protein (MCP), was built based on its amino acid sequence and the structure of the homologous Paramecium bursaria chlorella virus 1 Vp54 MCP. This model was fitted into the cryoEM density for each of the 25 trimeric CIV capsomers per icosahedral asymmetric unit. A difference map, in which the fitted CIV MCP capsomers were subtracted from the CIV cryoEM reconstruction, showed that there are at least three different types of minor capsid proteins associated with the capsomers outside the lipid membrane. "Finger" proteins are situated at many, but not all, of the spaces between three adjacent capsomers within each trisymmetron, and "zip" proteins are situated between sets of three adjacent capsomers at the boundary between neighboring trisymmetrons and pentasymmetrons. Based on the results of segmentation and density correlations, there are at least eight finger proteins and three dimeric and two monomeric zip proteins in one asymmetric unit of the CIV capsid. These minor proteins appear to stabilize the virus by acting as intercapsomer cross-links. One transmembrane "anchor" protein per icosahedral asymmetric unit, which extends from beneath one of the capsomers in the pentasymmetron to the internal leaflet of the lipid membrane, may provide additional stabilization for the capsid. These results are consistent with the observations for other large, icosahedral dsDNA viruses that also utilize minor capsid proteins for stabilization and for determining their assembly.
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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