Browsing by Subject "MINUS-STRAND"

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  • 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.
  • Hellström, Kirsi; Kallio, Katri; Utt, Age; Quirin, Tania; Jokitalo, Eija; Merits, Andres; Ahola, Tero (2017)
    Alphaviruses are positive-strand RNA viruses expressing their replicase as a polyprotein, P1234, which is cleaved to four final products, nonstructural proteins nsP1 to nsP4. The replicase proteins together with viral RNA and host factors form membrane invaginations termed spherules, which act as the replication complexes producing progeny RNAs. We have previously shown that the wild-type alphavirus replicase requires a functional RNA template and active polymerase to generate spherule structures. However, we now find that specific partially processed forms of the replicase proteins alone can give rise to membrane invaginations in the absence of RNA or replication. The minimal requirement for spherule formation was the expression of properly cleaved nsP4, together with either uncleaved P123 or with the combination of nsP1 and uncleaved P23. These inactive spherules were morphologically less regular than replication-induced spherules. In the presence of template, nsP1 plus uncleaved P23 plus nsP4 could efficiently assemble active replication spherules producing both negative-sense and positive-sense RNA strands. P23 alone did not have membrane affinity, but could be recruited to membrane sites in the presence of nsP1 and nsP4. These results define the set of viral components required for alphavirus replication complex assembly and suggest the possibility that it could be reconstituted from separately expressed nonstructural proteins. IMPORTANCE All positive-strand RNA viruses extensively modify host cell membranes to serve as efficient platforms for viral RNA replication. Alphaviruses and several other groups induce protective membrane invaginations (spherules) as their genome factories. Most positive-strand viruses produce their replicase as a polyprotein precursor, which is further processed through precise and regulated cleavages. We show here that specific cleavage intermediates of the alphavirus replicase can give rise to spherule structures in the absence of viral RNA. In the presence of template RNA, the same intermediates yield active replication complexes. Thus, partially cleaved replicase proteins play key roles that connect replication complex assembly, membrane deformation, and the different stages of RNA synthesis.
  • Pietila, Maija K.; van Hemert, Martijn J.; Ahola, Tero (2018)
    Positive-strand RNA viruses replicate their genomes in membrane-associated structures; alphaviruses and many other groups induce membrane invaginations called spherules. Here, we established a protocol to purify these membranous replication complexes (RCs) from cells infected with Semliki Forest virus (SFV). We isolated SFV spherules located on the plasma membrane and further purified them using two consecutive density gradients. This revealed that SFV infection strongly modifies cellular membranes. We removed soluble proteins, the Golgi membranes, and most of the mitochondria, but plasma membrane, endoplasmic reticulum (ER), and late endosome markers were retained in the membrane fraction that contained viral RNA synthesizing activity, replicase proteins, and minus-and plus-strand RNA. Electron microscopy revealed that the purified membranes displayed spherule-like structures with a narrow neck. This membrane enrichment was specific to viral replication, as such a distribution of membrane markers was only observed after infection. Besides the plasma membrane, SFV infection remodeled the ER, and the cofractionation of the RC-carrying plasma membrane and ER suggests that SFV recruits ER proteins or membrane to the site of replication. The purified RCs were highly active in synthesizing both genomic and subgenomic RNA. Detergent solubilization destroyed the replication activity, demonstrating that the membrane association of the complex is essential. Most of the newly made RNA was in double-stranded replicative molecules, but the purified complexes also produced single-stranded RNA as well as released newly made RNA. This indicates that the purification established here maintained the functionality of RCs and thus enables further structural and functional studies of active RCs. IMPORTANCE Similar to all positive-strand RNA viruses, the arthropod-borne alpha-viruses induce membranous genome factories, but little is known about the arrangement of viral replicase proteins and the presence of host proteins in these replication complexes. To improve our knowledge of alphavirus RNA-synthesizing complexes, we isolated and purified them from infected mammalian cells. Detection of viral RNA and in vitro replication assays revealed that these complexes are abundant and highly active when located on the plasma membrane. After multiple purification steps, they remain functional in synthesizing and releasing viral RNA. Besides the plasma membrane, markers for the endoplasmic reticulum and late endosomes were enriched with the replication complexes, demonstrating that alphavirus infection modified cellular membranes beyond inducing replication spherules on the plasma membrane. We have developed here a gentle purification method to obtain large quantities of highly active replication complexes, and similar methods can be applied to other positive-strand RNA viruses.
  • Levanova, Alesia A.; Vainio, Eeva J.; Hantula, Jarkko; Poranen, Minna M. (2021)
    Heterobasidion RNA virus 6 (HetRV6) is a double-stranded (ds)RNA mycovirus and a member of the recently established genus Orthocurvulavirus within the family Orthocurvulaviridae. The purpose of the study was to determine the biochemical requirements for RNA synthesis catalyzed by HetRV6 RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp). HetRV6 RdRp was expressed in Escherichia coli and isolated to near homogeneity using liquid chromatography. The enzyme activities were studied in vitro using radiolabeled UTP. The HetRV6 RdRp was able to initiate RNA synthesis in a primer-independent manner using both virus-related and heterologous single-stranded (ss)RNA templates, with a polymerization rate of about 46 nt/min under optimal NTP concentration and temperature. NTPs with 2′-fluoro modifications were also accepted as substrates in the HetRV6 RdRp-catalyzed RNA polymerization reaction. HetRV6 RdRp transcribed viral RNA genome via semi-conservative mechanism. Furthermore, the enzyme demonstrated terminal nucleotidyl transferase (TNTase) activity. Presence of Mn2+ was required for the HetRV6 RdRp catalyzed enzymatic activities. In summary, our study shows that HetRV6 RdRp is an active replicase in vitro that can be potentially used in biotechnological applications, molecular biology, and biomedicine.
  • Hanhijarvi, Kalle J.; Ziedaite, Gabija; Bamford, Dennis H.; Haeggstrom, Edward; Poranen, Minna M. (2017)
    Genome packaging of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) phages has been widely studied using biochemical and molecular biology methods. We adapted the existing in vitro packaging system of one such phage for single-molecule experimentation. To our knowledge, this is the first attempt to study the details of viral RNA packaging using optical tweezers. Pseudomonas phage phi 6 is a dsRNA virus with a tripartite genome. Positive-sense (+) single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) genome precursors are packaged into a preformed procapsid (PC), where negative strands are synthesized. We present single-molecule measurements of the viral ssRNA packaging by the phi 6 PC. Our data show that packaging proceeds intermittently in slow and fast phases, which likely reflects differences in the unfolding of the RNA secondary structures of the ssRNA being packaged. Although the mean packaging velocity was relatively low (0.07-0.54 nm/sec), packaging could reach 4.62 nm/sec during the fast packaging phase.
  • Utt, Age; Quirin, Tania; Saul, Sirle; Hellstrom, Kirsi; Ahola, Tero; Merits, Andres (2016)
    Chikungunya virus (CHIKV; genus Alphavirus, family Togaviridae) has recently caused several major outbreaks affecting millions of people. There are no licensed vaccines or antivirals, and the knowledge of the molecular biology of CHIKV, crucial for development of efficient antiviral strategies, remains fragmentary. CHIKV has a 12 kb positive-strand RNA genome, which is translated to yield a nonstructural (ns) or replicase polyprotein. CHIKV structural proteins are expressed from a subgenomic RNA synthesized in infected cells. Here we have developed CHIKV trans-replication systems, where replicase expression and RNA replication are uncoupled. Bacteriophage T7 RNA polymerase or cellular RNA polymerase II were used for production of mRNAs for CHIKV ns polyprotein and template RNAs, which are recognized by CHIKV replicase and encode for reporter proteins. CHIKV replicase efficiently amplified such RNA templates and synthesized large amounts of subgenomic RNA in several cell lines. This system was used to create tagged versions of ns proteins including nsP1 fused with enhanced green fluorescent protein and nsP4 with an immunological tag. Analysis of these constructs and a matching set of replicon vectors revealed that the replicases containing tagged ns proteins were functional and maintained their subcellular localizations. When cells were co-transfected with constructs expressing template RNA and wild type or tagged versions of CHIKV replicases, formation of characteristic replicase complexes (spherules) was observed. Analysis of mutations associated with noncytotoxic phenotype in CHIKV replicons showed that a low level of RNA replication is not a pre-requisite for reduced cytotoxicity. The CHIKV trans-replicase does not suffer from genetic instability and represents an efficient, sensitive and reliable tool for studies of different aspects of CHIKV RNA replication process.