Browsing by Subject "SEMLIKI-FOREST-VIRUS"

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  • Pietilä, Maija; Hellström, Kirsi; Ahola, Tero (2017)
    Alphaviruses are typically arthropod-borne, and many are important pathogens such as chikungunya virus. Alphaviruses encode four nonstructural proteins (nsP1-4), initially produced as a polyprotein P1234. nsP4 is the core RNA-dependent RNA polymerase but all four nsPs are required for RNA synthesis. The early replication complex (RC) formed by the polyprotein P123 and nsP4 synthesizes minus RNA strands, and the late RC composed of fully processed nsP1-nsP4 is responsible for the production of genomic and subgenomic plus strands. Different parts of nsP4 recognize the promoters for minus and plus strands but the binding also requires the other nsPs. The alphavirus polymerase has been purified and is capable of de novo RNA synthesis only in the presence of the other nsPs. The purified nsP4 also has terminal adenylyltransferase activity, which may generate the poly(A) tail at the 3' end of the genome. Membrane association of the nsPs is vital for replication, and alphaviruses induce membrane invaginations called spherules, which form a microenvironment for RNA synthesis by concentrating replication components and protecting double-stranded RNA intermediates. The RCs isolated as crude membrane preparations are active in RNA synthesis in vitro, but high-resolution structure of the RC has not been achieved, and thus the arrangement of viral and possible host components remains unknown. For some alphaviruses, Ras-GTPase-activating protein (Src-homology 3 (SH3) domain)-binding proteins (G3BPs) and amphiphysins have been shown to be essential for RNA replication and are present in the RCs. Host factors offer an additional target for antivirals, as only few aiphavirus polymerase inhibitors have been described. (C) 2017 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
  • Rausalu, Kai; Utt, Age; Quirin, Tania; Varghese, Finny S.; Zusinaite, Eva; Das, Pratyush Kumar; Ahola, Tero; Merits, Andres (2016)
    Chikungunya virus (CHIKV), genus Alphavirus, family Togaviridae, has a positive-stand RNA genome approximately 12 kb in length. In infected cells, the genome is translated into non-structural polyprotein P1234, an inactive precursor of the viral replicase, which is activated by cleavages carried out by the non-structural protease, nsP2. We have characterized CHIKV nsP2 using both cell-free and cell-based assays. First, we show that Cys478 residue in the active site of CHIKV nsP2 is indispensable for P1234 processing. Second, the substrate requirements of CHIKV nsP2 are quite similar to those of nsP2 of related Semliki Forest virus (SFV). Third, substitution of Ser482 residue, recently reported to contribute to the protease activity of nsP2, with Ala has almost no negative effect on the protease activity of CHIKV nsP2. Fourth, Cys478 to Ala as well as Trp479 to Ala mutations in nsP2 completely abolished RNA replication in CHIKV and SFV trans-replication systems. In contrast, trans-replicases with Ser482 to Ala mutation were similar to wild type counterparts. Fifth, Cys478 to Ala as well as Trp479 to Ala mutations in nsP2 abolished the rescue of infectious virus from CHIKV RNA transcripts while Ser482 to Ala mutation had no effect. Thus, CHIKV nsP2 is a cysteine protease.
  • Niittykoski, Minna; zu Fraunberg, Mikael von und; Martikainen, Miika; Rauramaa, Tuomas; Immonen, Arto; Koponen, Susanna; Leinonen, Ville; Vaha-Koskela, Markus; Zhang, Qiwei; Kuhnel, Florian; Mei, Ya-Fang; Yla-Herttuala, Seppo; Jaaskelainen, Juha E.; Hinkkanen, Ari (2017)
    BACKGROUND: Oncolytic adenoviruses show promise in targeting gliomas because they do not replicate in normal brain cells. However, clinical responses occur only in a subset of patients. One explanation could be the heterogenic expression level of virus receptors. Another contributing factor could be variable activity of tumor antiviral defenses in different glioma subtypes. METHODS: We established a collection of primary low-passage cell lines from different glioma subtypes (3 glioblastomas, 3 oligoastrocytomas, and 2 oligodendrogliomas) and assessed them for receptor expression and sensitivity to human adenovirus (HAd) serotypes 3, 5, and 11p. To gauge the impact of antiviral defenses, we also compared the infectivity of the oncolytic adenoviruses in interferon (IFN)-pretreated cells with IFN-sensitive Semliki Forest virus (SFV). RESULTS: Immunostaining revealed generally low expression of HAd5 receptor CAR in both primary tumors and derived cell lines. HAd11p receptor CD46 levels were maintained at moderate levels in both primary tumor samples and derived cell lines. HAd3 receptor DSG-2 was reduced in the cell lines compared to the tumors. Yet, at equal multiplicities of infection, the oncolytic potency of HAd5 in vitro in tumor-derived cells was comparable to HAd11p, whereas HAd3 lysed fewer cells than either of the other two HAd serotypes in 72 hours. IFN blocked replication of SFV, while HAds were rather unaffected. CONCLUSIONS: Adenovirus receptor levels on glioma-derived cell lines did not correlate with infection efficacy and may not be a relevant indicator of clinical oncolytic potency. Adenovirus receptor analysis should be preferentially performed on biopsies obtained perioperatively.
  • Varghese, Finny S.; Rausalu, Kai; Hakanen, Marika; Saul, Sirle; Kuemmerer, Beate M.; Susi, Petri; Merits, Andres; Ahola, Tero (2017)
    As new pathogenic viruses continue to emerge, it is paramount to have intervention strategies that target a common denominator in these pathogens. The fusion of viral and cellular membranes during viral entry is one such process that is used by many pathogenic viruses, including chikungunya virus, West Nile virus, and influenza virus. Obatoclax, a small-molecule antagonist of the Bcl-2 family of proteins, was previously determined to have activity against influenza A virus and also Sindbis virus. Here, we report it to be active against alphaviruses, like chikungunya virus (50% effective concentration [EC50] = 0.03 mu M) and Semliki Forest virus (SFV; EC50 = 0.11 mu M). Obatoclax inhibited viral entry processes in an SFV temperaturesensitive mutant entry assay. A neutral red retention assay revealed that obatoclax induces the rapid neutralization of the acidic environment of endolysosomal vesicles and thereby most likely inhibits viral fusion. Characterization of escape mutants revealed that the L369I mutation in the SFV E1 fusion protein was sufficient to confer partial resistance against obatoclax. Other inhibitors that target the Bcl-2 family of antiapoptotic proteins inhibited neither viral entry nor endolysosomal acidification, suggesting that the antiviral mechanism of obatoclax does not depend on its anticancer targets. Obatoclax inhibited the growth of flaviviruses, like Zika virus, West Nile virus, and yellow fever virus, which require low pH for fusion, but not that of pH-independent picornaviruses, like coxsackievirus A9, echovirus 6, and echovirus 7. In conclusion, obatoclax is a novel inhibitor of endosomal acidification that prevents viral fusion and that could be pursued as a potential broad-spectrum antiviral candidate.
  • Vaha-Koskela, Markus; Tahtinen, Siri; Gronberg-Vaha-Koskela, Susanna; Taipale, Kristian; Saha, Dipongkor; Merisalo-Soikkeli, Maiju; Ahonen, Marko; Rouvinen-Lagerstrom, Noora; Hirvinen, Mari; Veckman, Ville; Matikainen, Sampsa; Zhao, Fang; Pakarinen, Paivi; Salo, Jarmo; Kanerva, Anna; Cerullo, Vincenzo; Hemminki, Akseli (2015)
    Successful cancer control relies on overcoming resistance to cell death and on activation of host antitumor immunity. Oncolytic viruses are particularly attractive in this regard, as they lyse infected tumor cells and trigger robust immune responses during the infection. However, repeated injections of the same virus promote antiviral rather than antitumor immunity and tumors may mount innate antiviral defenses to restrict oncolytic virus replication. In this article, we have explored if alternating the therapy virus could circumvent these problems. We demonstrate in two virus-resistant animal models a substantial delay in antiviral immune- and innate cellular response induction by alternating injections of two immunologically distinct oncolytic viruses, adenovirus, and vaccinia virus. Our results are in support of clinical development of heterologous adeno-/vaccinia virus therapy of cancer.
  • 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.
  • Ahola, Tero; Karlin, David G. (2015)
    Background: Members of the alphavirus supergroup include human pathogens such as chikungunya virus, hepatitis E virus and rubella virus. They encode a capping enzyme with methyltransferase-guanylyltransferase (MTase-GTase) activity, which is an attractive drug target owing to its unique mechanism. However, its experimental study has proven very difficult. Results: We examined over 50 genera of viruses by sequence analyses. Earlier studies showed that the MTase-GTase contains a "Core" region conserved in sequence. We show that it is followed by a long extension, which we termed "Iceberg" region, whose secondary structure, but not sequence, is strikingly conserved throughout the alphavirus supergroup. Sequence analyses strongly suggest that the minimal capping domain corresponds to the Core and Iceberg regions combined, which is supported by earlier experimental data. The Iceberg region contains all known membrane association sites that contribute to the assembly of viral replication factories. We predict that it may also contain an overlooked, widely conserved membrane-binding amphipathic helix. Unexpectedly, we detected a sequence homolog of the alphavirus MTase-GTase in taxa related to nodaviruses and to chronic bee paralysis virus. The presence of a capping enzyme in nodaviruses is biologically consistent, since they have capped genomes but replicate in the cytoplasm, where no cellular capping enzyme is present. The putative MTase-GTase domain of nodaviruses also contains membrane-binding sites that may drive the assembly of viral replication factories, revealing an unsuspected parallel with the alphavirus supergroup. Conclusions: Our work will guide the functional analysis of the alphaviral MTase-GTase and the production of domains for structure determination. The identification of a homologous domain in a simple model system, nodaviruses, which replicate in numerous eukaryotic cell systems (yeast, flies, worms, mammals, and plants), can further help crack the function and structure of the enzyme.
  • 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.
  • Quirin, Tania; Chen, Yu; Pietilä, Maija K.; Guo, Deyin; Ahola, Tero (2018)
    The nodavirus flock house virus (FHV) and the alphavirus Semliki Forest virus (SFV) show evolutionarily intriguing similarities in their replication complexes and RNA capping enzymes. In this study, we first established an efficient FHV trans-replication system in mammalian cells, which disjoins protein expression from viral RNA synthesis. Following transfection, FHV replicase protein A was associated with mitochondria, whose outer surface displayed pouch-like invaginations with a 'neck' structure opening towards the cytoplasm. In mitochondrial pellets from transfected cells, high-level synthesis of both genomic and subgenomic RNA was detected in vitro and the newly synthesized RNA was of positive polarity. Secondly, we initiated the study of the putative RNA capping enzyme domain in protein A by mutating the conserved amino acids H93, R100, D141, and W215. RNA replication was abolished for all mutants inside cells and in vitro except for W215A, which showed reduced replication. Transfection of capped RNA template did not rescue the replication activity of the mutants. Comparing the efficiency of SFV and FHV trans-replication systems, the FHV system appeared to produce more RNA. Using fluorescent marker proteins, we demonstrated that both systems could replicate in the same cell. This work may facilitate the comparative analysis of FHV and SFV replication.
  • 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.