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  • De Colibus, Luigi; Roine, Elina; Walter, Thomas S.; Ilca, Serban L.; Wang, Xiangxi; Wang, Nan; Roseman, Alan M.; Bamford, Dennis; Huiskonen, Juha T.; Stuart, David (2019)
    Many of the largest known viruses belong to the PRD1-adeno structural lineage characterised by conserved pseudo-hexameric capsomers composed of three copies of a single major capsid protein (MCP). Here, by high-resolution cryo-EM analysis, we show that a class of archaeal viruses possess hetero-hexameric MCPs which mimic the PRD1-adeno lineage trimer. These hetero-hexamers are built from heterodimers and utilise a jigsaw-puzzle system of pegs and holes, and underlying minor capsid proteins, to assemble the capsid laterally from the 5-fold vertices. At these vertices proteins engage inwards with the internal membrane vesicle whilst 2-fold symmetric horn-like structures protrude outwards. The horns are assembled from repeated globular domains attached to a central spine, presumably facilitating multimeric attachment to the cell receptor. Such viruses may represent precursors of the main PRD1-adeno lineage, similarly engaging cell-receptors via 5-fold spikes and using minor proteins to define particle size.
  • Sun, Xiaoyu; Ilca, Serban L.; Huiskonen, Juha T.; Poranen, Minna M. (2018)
    Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) viruses package several RNA-dependent RNA polymerases (RdRp) together with their dsRNA genome into an icosahedral protein capsid known as the polymerase complex. This structure is highly conserved among dsRNA viruses but is not found in any other virus group. RdRp subunits typically interact directly with the main capsid proteins, close to the 5-fold symmetric axes, and perform viral genome replication and transcription within the icosahedral protein shell. In this study, we utilized Pseudomonas phage Phi 6, a well-established virus self-assembly model, to probe the potential roles of the RdRp in dsRNA virus assembly. We demonstrated that Phi 6 RdRp accelerates the polymerase complex self-assembly process and contributes to its conformational stability and integrity. We highlight the role of specific amino acid residues on the surface of the RdRp in its incorporation during the self-assembly reaction. Substitutions of these residues reduce RdRp incorporation into the polymerase complex during the self-assembly reaction. Furthermore, we determined that the overall transcription efficiency of the Phi 6 polymerase complex increased when the number of RdRp subunits exceeded the number of genome segments. These results suggest a mechanism for RdRp recruitment in the polymerase complex and highlight its novel role in virion assembly, in addition to the canonical RNA transcription and replication functions. IMPORTANCE Double-stranded RNA viruses infect a wide spectrum of hosts, including animals, plants, fungi, and bacteria. Yet genome replication mechanisms of these viruses are conserved. During the infection cycle, a proteinaceous capsid, the polymerase complex, is formed. An essential component of this capsid is the viral RNA polymerase that replicates and transcribes the enclosed viral genome. The polymerase complex structure is well characterized for many double-stranded RNA viruses. However, much less is known about the hierarchical molecular interactions that take place in building up such complexes. Using the bacteriophage Phi 6 self-assembly system, we obtained novel insights into the processes that mediate polymerase subunit incorporation into the polymerase complex for generation of functional structures. The results presented pave the way for the exploitation and engineering of viral self-assembly processes for biomedical and synthetic biology applications. An understanding of viral assembly processes at the molecular level may also facilitate the development of antivirals that target viral capsid assembly.
  • Ilca, Serban; Sun, Xiaoyu; El Omari, Kamel; Kotecha, Abhay; Haas, Felix de; DiMaio, Frank; Grimes, Jonathan M; Stuart, David I.; Poranen, Minna Marjetta; Huiskonen, Juha Tapio (2019)
    Characterizing the genome of mature virions is pivotal to understanding the highly dynamic processes of virus assembly and infection. Owing to the different cellular fates of DNA and RNA, the life cycles of double-stranded (ds) DNA and dsRNA viruses are dissimilar. In terms of nucleic acid packing, dsDNA viruses, which lack genome segmentation and intra-capsid transcriptional machinery, predominantly display single-spooled genome organizations(1-8). Because the release of dsRNA into the cytoplasm triggers host defence mechanisms(9), dsRNA viruses retain their genomes within a core particle that contains the enzymes required for RNA replication and transcription(10-12). The genomes of dsRNA viruses vary greatly in the degree of segmentation. In members of the Reoviridae family, genomes consist of 10-12 segments and exhibit a non-spooled arrangement mediated by RNA-dependent RNA polymerases(11-14). However, whether this arrangement is a general feature of dsRNA viruses remains unknown. Here, using cryo-electron microscopy to resolve the dsRNA genome structure of the tri-segmented bacteriophage Phi 6 of the Cystoviridae family, we show that dsRNA viruses can adopt a dsDNA-like single-spooled genome organization. We find that in this group of viruses, RNA-dependent RNA polymerases do not direct genome ordering, and the dsRNA can adopt multiple conformations. We build a model that encompasses 90% of the genome, and use this to quantify variation in the packing density and to characterize the different liquid crystalline geometries that are exhibited by the tightly compacted nucleic acid. Our results demonstrate that the canonical model for the packing of dsDNA can be extended to dsRNA viruses.
  • Halldorsson, Steinar; Li, Sai; Li, Mengqiu; Harlos, Karl; Bowden, Thomas A.; Huiskonen, Juha T. (2018)
    Entry of enveloped viruses relies on insertion of hydrophobic residues of the viral fusion protein into the host cell membrane. However, the intermediate conformations during fusion remain unknown. Here, we address the fusion mechanism of Rift Valley fever virus. We determine the crystal structure of the Gn glycoprotein and fit it with the Gc fusion protein into cryo-electron microscopy reconstructions of the virion. Our analysis reveals how the Gn shields the hydrophobic fusion loops of the Gc, preventing premature fusion. Electron cryotomography of virions interacting with membranes under acidic conditions reveals how the fusogenic Gc is activated upon removal of the Gn shield. Repositioning of the Gn allows extension of Gc and insertion of fusion loops in the outer leaflet of the target membrane. These data show early structural transitions that enveloped viruses undergo during host cell entry and indicate that analogous shielding mechanisms are utilized across diverse virus families.
  • Kumar, Vibhor; Butcher, Sarah J.; Öörni, Katariina; Engelhardt, Peter; Heikkonen, Jukka; Kaski, Kimmo; Ala-Korpela, Mika; Kovanen, Petri T. (2011)
    Background Low-density lipoprotein (LDL) particles, the major carriers of cholesterol in the human circulation, have a key role in cholesterol physiology and in the development of atherosclerosis. The most prominent structural components in LDL are the core-forming cholesteryl esters (CE) and the particle-encircling single copy of a huge, non-exchangeable protein, the apolipoprotein B-100 (apoB-100). The shape of native LDL particles and the conformation of native apoB-100 on the particles remain incompletely characterized at the physiological human body temperature (37°C). Methodology/Principal Findings To study native LDL particles, we applied cryo-electron microscopy to calculate 3D reconstructions of LDL particles in their hydrated state. Images of the particles vitrified at 6°C and 37°C resulted in reconstructions at ~16 Å resolution at both temperatures. 3D variance map analysis revealed rigid and flexible domains of lipids and apoB-100 at both temperatures. The reconstructions showed less variability at 6°C than at 37°C, which reflected increased order of the core CE molecules, rather than decreased mobility of the apoB-100. Compact molecular packing of the core and order in a lipid-binding domain of apoB-100 were observed at 6°C, but not at 37°C. At 37°C we were able to highlight features in the LDL particles that are not clearly separable in 3D maps at 6°C. Segmentation of apoB-100 density, fitting of lipovitellin X-ray structure, and antibody mapping, jointly revealed the approximate locations of the individual domains of apoB-100 on the surface of native LDL particles. Conclusions/Significance Our study provides molecular background for further understanding of the link between structure and function of native LDL particles at physiological body temperature.
  • Parmar, Mayuriben; Rawson, Shaun; Scarff, Charlotte A.; Goldman, Adrian; Dafforn, Timothy R.; Muench, Stephen P.; Postis, Vincent L.G. (2018)
    The field of membrane protein structural biology has been revolutionized over the last few years with a number of high profile structures being solved using cryo-EM including Piezo, Ryanodine receptor, TRPV1 and the Glutamate receptor. Further developments in the EM field hold the promise of even greater progress in terms of greater resolution, which for membrane proteins is still typically within the 4-7 angstrom range. One advantage of a cryo-EM approach is the ability to study membrane proteins in more "native" like environments for example proteoliposomes, amphipols and nanodiscs. Recently, styrene maleic acid co-polymers (SMA) have been used to extract membrane proteins surrounded by native lipids (SMALPs) maintaining a more natural environment. We report here the structure of the Escherichia coli multidrug efflux transporter AcrB in a SMALP scaffold to sub-nm resolution, with the resulting map being consistent with high resolution crystal structures and other EM derived maps. However, both the C-terminal helix (TM12) and TM7 are poorly defined in the map. These helices are at the exterior of the helical bundle and form the greater interaction with the native lipids and SMA polymer and may represent a more dynamic region of the protein. This work shows the promise of using an SMA approach for single particle cryo-EM studies to provide sub-nm structures.
  • Laanto, Elina; Mantynen, Sari; De Colibus, Luigi; Marjakangas, Jenni; Gillum, Ashley; Stuart, David I.; Ravantti, Janne J.; Huiskonen, Juha T.; Sundberg, Lotta-Riina (2017)
    Viruses have impacted the biosphere in numerous ways since the dawn of life. However, the evolution, genetic, structural, and taxonomic diversity of viruses remain poorly understood, in part because sparse sampling of the virosphere has concentrated mostly on exploring the abundance and diversity of dsDNA viruses. Furthermore, viral genomes are highly diverse, and using only the current sequence-based methods for classifying viruses and studying their phylogeny is complicated. Here we describe a virus, FLiP (Flavobacterium-infecting, lipid-containing phage), with a circular ssDNA genome and an internal lipid membrane enclosed in the icosahedral capsid. The 9,174-nt-long genome showed limited sequence similarity to other known viruses. The genetic data imply that this virus might use replication mechanisms similar to those found in other ssDNA replicons. However, the structure of the viral major capsid protein, elucidated at near-atomic resolution using cryo-electron microscopy, is strikingly similar to that observed in dsDNA viruses of the PRD1-adenovirus lineage, characterized by a major capsid protein bearing two beta-barrels. The strong similarity between FLiP and another member of the structural lineage, bacteriophage PM2, extends to the capsid organization (pseudo T = 21 dextro) despite the difference in the genetic material packaged and the lack of significant sequence similarity.