register interest

Professor Juha T Huiskonen

Research Area: Protein Science and Structural Biology
Technology Exchange: Computational biology and Microscopy (EM)
Scientific Themes: Protein Science & Structural Biology and Immunology & Infectious Disease
Keywords: Electron cryo microscopy (cryo-EM), Tomography, Image processing, Cell biology, Enveloped virus and Emerging virus
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Fig 1.Unstained Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) particles embedded in vitreous ice, and imaged with an field emission gun electron microscope

Fig 1.Unstained Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) particles embedded in vitreous ice, and imaged with ...

Fig 2. Three dimensional reconstruction of RVFV calculated by combining data from several projection images (Fig 1) reveals the glycoprotein organization

Fig 2. Three dimensional reconstruction of RVFV calculated by combining data from several ...

My group focuses on structures and host cell interactions of emerging viruses.

We study how viruses belonging to families Arenaviridae and Bunyaviridae infect their host cells. Many of these viruses are pathogens causing serious diseases. These include Lassa virus, Rift Valley fever virus, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus and many hantaviruses. Despite the medical relevance of arena- and bunyaviruses, very little is known about their detailed three-dimensional structures and infection mechanisms. We use electron cryomicroscopy, combined with computational 3D reconstruction methods, to solve the structures of mature virions, in addition to intermediate structures existing during entry, membrane fusion and maturation.

The infection of a host cell by a virus is a complicated process and its study requires a combination of different techniques and model systems. Our electron cryomicroscopy and tomography studies are combined with complementary imaging and biophysical techniques to yield a detailed description of viral infection. For example, we are combining tomographic subvolume averaging techniques and high-resolution single particle electron cryomicroscopy with fitting of X-ray structures of viral glycoproteins into density maps of whole virus particles. Our group is also active in developing computational methods for these tasks.

The work is carried out at the Division of Structural Biology (StruBi) and Oxford Particle Imaging Centre (OPIC), which offers a high bio-safety containment laboratory providing facilities for virus production and high resolution electron cryomicroscopy and tomography.

Name Department Institution Country
Professor David Stuart FRS Structural Biology Oxford University, Henry Wellcome Building of Genomic Medicine United Kingdom
Professor Dennis Bamford Institute of Biotechnology and Department of Biosciences University of Helsinki Finland
Professor A. Radu Aricescu Structural Biology Oxford University, Henry Wellcome Building of Genomic Medicine United Kingdom
Professor Ervin Fodor Dunn School of Pathology University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Jonathan M Grimes Structural Biology Oxford University, Henry Wellcome Building of Genomic Medicine United Kingdom
Professor Thomas A. Bowden Structural Biology Oxford University, Henry Wellcome Building of Genomic Medicine United Kingdom
Dr Thomas Strecker Institute of Virology Philipps-Universität Marburg Germany
Professor Susan Lea Sir William Dunn School of Pathology University of Oxford United Kingdom
Professor Christian Siebold Structural Biology Oxford University, Henry Wellcome Building of Genomic Medicine United Kingdom
Professor Liz Carpenter Structural Genomics Consortium Oxford University, Old Road Campus Research Building United Kingdom
Sir Tom Blundell FRS FMedSci University of Cambridge United Kingdom
Renner M, Flanagan A, Dejnirattisai W, Puttikhunt C, Kasinrerk W, Supasa P, Wongwiwat W, Chawansuntati K, Duangchinda T, Cowper A et al. 2018. Characterization of a potent and highly unusual minimally enhancing antibody directed against dengue virus. Nat Immunol, 19 (11), pp. 1248-1256. | Show Abstract | Read more

Dengue virus is a major pathogen, and severe infections can lead to life-threatening dengue hemorrhagic fever. Dengue virus exists as four serotypes, and dengue hemorrhagic fever is often associated with secondary heterologous infections. Antibody-dependent enhancement (ADE) may drive higher viral loads in these secondary infections and is purported to result from antibodies that recognize dengue virus but fail to fully neutralize it. Here we characterize two antibodies, 2C8 and 3H5, that bind to the envelope protein. Antibody 3H5 is highly unusual as it not only is potently neutralizing but also promotes little if any ADE, whereas antibody 2C8 has strong capacity to promote ADE. We show that 3H5 shows resilient binding in endosomal pH conditions and neutralizes at low occupancy. Immunocomplexes of 3H5 and dengue virus do not efficiently interact with Fcγ receptors, which we propose is due to the binding mode of 3H5 and constitutes the primary mechanism of how ADE is avoided.

Sun X, Ilca SL, Huiskonen JT, Poranen MM. 2018. Dual Role of a Viral Polymerase in Viral Genome Replication and Particle Self-Assembly. MBio, 9 (5), | Show Abstract | Read more

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 Φ6, a well-established virus self-assembly model, to probe the potential roles of the RdRp in dsRNA virus assembly. We demonstrated that Φ6 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 Φ6 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 Φ6 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.

Stass R, Ilca SL, Huiskonen JT. 2018. Beyond structures of highly symmetric purified viral capsids by cryo-EM. Curr Opin Struct Biol, 52 pp. 25-31. | Show Abstract | Read more

Cryogenic transmission electron microscopy (cryo-EM) is widely used to determine high-resolution structures of symmetric virus capsids. The method holds promise for extending studies beyond purified capsids and their symmetric protein shells. The non-symmetric genome component has been addressed in dsRNA cypoviruses and ssRNA bacteriophages Qβ and MS2. The structure of human herpes simplex virus type 1 capsids has been determined within intact virions to resolve capsid-tegument interactions. Electron tomography under cryogenic conditions (cryo-ET), has allowed resolving an early membrane fusion intermediate of Rift Valley fever virus. Antibody-affinity based sample grids allow capturing of virions directly from cell cultures or even clinical samples. These and other emerging methods will support studies to address viral entry, assembly and neutralization processes at increasingly high resolutions and native conditions.

Kaur G, Kaundal S, Kapoor S, Grimes JM, Huiskonen JT, Thakur KG. 2018. Mycobacterium tuberculosis CarD, an essential global transcriptional regulator forms amyloid-like fibrils. Sci Rep, 8 (1), pp. 10124. | Show Abstract | Read more

CarD is an essential global transcription regulator from Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) that binds RNA polymerase and activates transcription by stabilizing the transcription initiation complex. Available crystal structures have captured two distinct, monomeric and domain-swapped homodimeric, oligomeric states of CarD. However, the actual oligomeric state of CarD in solution and its biological relevance has remained unclear. Here, we confirm the presence of the homodimeric state of CarD in solution by using synchrotron-based small-angle X-ray scattering. Furthermore, by using biochemical and biophysical experiments, in addition to mass-spectrometry, transmission electron microscopy, and confocal imaging, we show that CarD is the first soluble cytosolic protein in Mtb which displays the tendency to form amyloid-like fibrils both in vitro as well as in vivo. We demonstrate that the deletion of the fourteen N-terminal residues involved in domain-swapping hampers amyloid formation, thus, suggesting that domain-swapping is crucial in amyloidogenesis. The discovery of the amyloidogenic property of an essential cytosolic global transcription regulator, CarD, in a pathogenic bacteria will further open up new frontiers in research.

Watanabe Y, Raghwani J, Allen JD, Seabright GE, Li S, Moser F, Huiskonen JT, Strecker T, Bowden TA, Crispin M. 2018. Structure of the Lassa virus glycan shield provides a model for immunological resistance. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 115 (28), pp. 7320-7325. | Show Abstract | Read more

Lassa virus is an Old World arenavirus endemic to West Africa that causes severe hemorrhagic fever. Vaccine development has focused on the envelope glycoprotein complex (GPC) that extends from the virion envelope. The often inadequate antibody immune response elicited by both vaccine and natural infection has been, in part, attributed to the abundance of N-linked glycosylation on the GPC. Here, using a virus-like-particle system that presents Lassa virus GPC in a native-like context, we determine the composite population of each of the N-linked glycosylation sites presented on the trimeric GPC spike. Our analysis reveals the presence of underprocessed oligomannose-type glycans, which form punctuated clusters that obscure the proteinous surface of both the GP1 attachment and GP2 fusion glycoprotein subunits of the Lassa virus GPC. These oligomannose clusters are seemingly derived as a result of sterically reduced accessibility to glycan processing enzymes, and limited amino acid diversification around these sites supports their role protecting against the humoral immune response. Combined, our data provide a structure-based blueprint for understanding how glycans render the glycoprotein spikes of Lassa virus and other Old World arenaviruses immunologically resistant targets.

Duyvesteyn HME, Ginn HM, Pietilä MK, Wagner A, Hattne J, Grimes JM, Hirvonen E, Evans G, Parsy M-L, Sauter NK et al. 2018. Towards in cellulo virus crystallography. Sci Rep, 8 (1), pp. 3771. | Show Abstract | Read more

Viruses are a significant threat to both human health and the economy, and there is an urgent need for novel anti-viral drugs and vaccines. High-resolution viral structures inform our understanding of the virosphere, and inspire novel therapies. Here we present a method of obtaining such structural information that avoids potentially disruptive handling, by collecting diffraction data from intact infected cells. We identify a suitable combination of cell type and virus to accumulate particles in the cells, establish a suitable time point where most cells contain virus condensates and use electron microscopy to demonstrate that these are ordered crystalline arrays of empty capsids. We then use an X-ray free electron laser to provide extremely bright illumination of sub-micron intracellular condensates of bacteriophage phiX174 inside living Escherichia coli at room temperature. We have been able to collect low resolution diffraction data. Despite the limited resolution and completeness of these initial data, due to a far from optimal experimental setup, we have used novel methodology to determine a putative space group, unit cell dimensions, particle packing and likely maturation state of the particles.

Huiskonen JT. 2018. Image processing for cryogenic transmission electron microscopy of symmetry-mismatched complexes. Biosci Rep, 38 (2), pp. BSR20170203-BSR20170203. | Show Abstract | Read more

Cryogenic transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM) is a high-resolution biological imaging method, whereby biological samples, such as purified proteins, macromolecular complexes, viral particles, organelles and cells, are embedded in vitreous ice preserving their native structures. Due to sensitivity of biological materials to the electron beam of the microscope, only relatively low electron doses can be applied during imaging. As a result, the signal arising from the structure of interest is overpowered by noise in the images. To increase the signal-to-noise ratio, different image processing-based strategies that aim at coherent averaging of signal have been devised. In such strategies, images are generally assumed to arise from multiple identical copies of the structure. Prior to averaging, the images must be grouped according to the view of the structure they represent and images representing the same view must be simultaneously aligned relatively to each other. For computational reconstruction of the three-dimensional structure, images must contain different views of the original structure. Structures with multiple symmetry-related substructures are advantageous in averaging approaches because each image provides multiple views of the substructures. However, the symmetry assumption may be valid for only parts of the structure, leading to incoherent averaging of the other parts. Several image processing approaches have been adapted to tackle symmetry-mismatched substructures with increasing success. Such structures are ubiquitous in nature and further computational method development is needed to understanding their biological functions.

Halldorsson S, Li S, Li M, Harlos K, Bowden TA, Huiskonen JT. 2018. Shielding and activation of a viral membrane fusion protein. Nat Commun, 9 (1), pp. 349. | Show Abstract | Read more

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.

Ptchelkine D, Gillum A, Mochizuki T, Lucas-Staat S, Liu Y, Krupovic M, Phillips SEV, Prangishvili D, Huiskonen JT. 2017. Unique architecture of thermophilic archaeal virus APBV1 and its genome packaging. Nat Commun, 8 (1), pp. 1436. | Show Abstract | Read more

Archaeal viruses have evolved to infect hosts often thriving in extreme conditions such as high temperatures. However, there is a paucity of information on archaeal virion structures, genome packaging, and determinants of temperature resistance. The rod-shaped virus APBV1 (Aeropyrum pernix bacilliform virus 1) is among the most thermostable viruses known; it infects a hyperthermophile Aeropyrum pernix, which grows optimally at 90 °C. Here we report the structure of APBV1, determined by cryo-electron microscopy at near-atomic resolution. Tight packing of the major virion glycoprotein (VP1) is ensured by extended hydrophobic interfaces, and likely contributes to the extreme thermostability of the helical capsid. The double-stranded DNA is tightly packed in the capsid as a left-handed superhelix and held in place by the interactions with positively charged residues of VP1. The assembly is closed by specific capping structures at either end, which we propose to play a role in DNA packing and delivery.

Rissanen I, Stass R, Zeltina A, Li S, Hepojoki J, Harlos K, Gilbert RJC, Huiskonen JT, Bowden TA. 2017. Structural Transitions of the Conserved and Metastable Hantaviral Glycoprotein Envelope. J Virol, 91 (21), | Show Abstract | Read more

Hantaviruses are zoonotic pathogens that cause severe hemorrhagic fever and pulmonary syndrome. The outer membrane of the hantavirus envelope displays a lattice of two glycoproteins, Gn and Gc, which orchestrate host cell recognition and entry. Here, we describe the crystal structure of the Gn glycoprotein ectodomain from the Asiatic Hantaan virus (HTNV), the most prevalent pathogenic hantavirus. Structural overlay analysis reveals that the HTNV Gn fold is highly similar to the Gn of Puumala virus (PUUV), a genetically and geographically distinct and less pathogenic hantavirus found predominantly in northeastern Europe, confirming that the hantaviral Gn fold is architecturally conserved across hantavirus clades. Interestingly, HTNV Gn crystallized at acidic pH, in a compact tetrameric configuration distinct from the organization at neutral pH. Analysis of the Gn, both in solution and in the context of the virion, confirms the pH-sensitive oligomeric nature of the glycoprotein, indicating that the hantaviral Gn undergoes structural transitions during host cell entry. These data allow us to present a structural model for how acidification during endocytic uptake of the virus triggers the dissociation of the metastable Gn-Gc lattice to enable insertion of the Gc-resident hydrophobic fusion loops into the host cell membrane. Together, these data reveal the dynamic plasticity of the structurally conserved hantaviral surface.IMPORTANCE Although outbreaks of Korean hemorrhagic fever were first recognized during the Korean War (1950 to 1953), it was not until 1978 that they were found to be caused by Hantaan virus (HTNV), the most prevalent pathogenic hantavirus. Here, we describe the crystal structure of HTNV envelope glycoprotein Gn, an integral component of the Gn-Gc glycoprotein spike complex responsible for host cell entry. HTNV Gn is structurally conserved with the Gn of a genetically and geographically distal hantavirus, Puumala virus, indicating that the observed α/β fold is well preserved across the Hantaviridae family. The combination of our crystal structure with solution state analysis of recombinant protein and electron cryo-microscopy of acidified hantavirus allows us to propose a model for endosome-induced reorganization of the hantaviral glycoprotein lattice. This provides a molecular-level rationale for the exposure of the hydrophobic fusion loops on the Gc, a process required for fusion of viral and cellular membranes.

Malik N, Kotecha A, Gold S, Asfor A, Ren J, Huiskonen JT, Tuthill TJ, Fry EE, Stuart DI. 2017. Structures of foot and mouth disease virus pentamers: Insight into capsid dissociation and unexpected pentamer reassociation. PLoS Pathog, 13 (9), pp. e1006607. | Show Abstract | Read more

Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) belongs to the Aphthovirus genus of the Picornaviridae, a family of small, icosahedral, non-enveloped, single-stranded RNA viruses. It is a highly infectious pathogen and is one of the biggest hindrances to the international trade of animals and animal products. FMDV capsids (which are unstable below pH6.5) release their genome into the host cell from an acidic compartment, such as that of an endosome, and in the process dissociate into pentamers. Whilst other members of the family (enteroviruses) have been visualized to form an expanded intermediate capsid with holes from which inner capsid proteins (VP4), N-termini (VP1) and RNA can be released, there has been no visualization of any such state for an aphthovirus, instead the capsid appears to simply dissociate into pentamers. Here we present the 8-Å resolution structure of isolated dissociated pentamers of FMDV, lacking VP4. We also found these pentamers to re-associate into a rigid, icosahedrally symmetric assembly, which enabled their structure to be solved at higher resolution (5.2 Å). In this assembly, the pentamers unexpectedly associate 'inside out', but still with their exposed hydrophobic edges buried. Stabilizing interactions occur between the HI loop of VP2 and its symmetry related partners at the icosahedral 3-fold axes, and between the BC and EF loops of VP3 with the VP2 βB-strand and the CD loop at the 2-fold axes. A relatively extensive but subtle structural rearrangement towards the periphery of the dissociated pentamer compared to that in the mature virus provides insight into the mechanism of dissociation of FMDV and the marked difference in antigenicity.

Laanto E, Mäntynen S, De Colibus L, Marjakangas J, Gillum A, Stuart DI, Ravantti JJ, Huiskonen JT, Sundberg L-R. 2017. Virus found in a boreal lake links ssDNA and dsDNA viruses. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 114 (31), pp. 8378-8383. | Show Abstract | Read more

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 β-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.

Patwardhan A, Brandt R, Butcher SJ, Collinson L, Gault D, Grünewald K, Hecksel C, Huiskonen JT, Iudin A, Jones ML et al. 2017. Building bridges between cellular and molecular structural biology. Elife, 6 | Show Abstract | Read more

The integration of cellular and molecular structural data is key to understanding the function of macromolecular assemblies and complexes in their in vivo context. Here we report on the outcomes of a workshop that discussed how to integrate structural data from a range of public archives. The workshop identified two main priorities: the development of tools and file formats to support segmentation (that is, the decomposition of a three-dimensional volume into regions that can be associated with defined objects), and the development of tools to support the annotation of biological structures.

Kotecha A, Wang Q, Dong X, Ilca SL, Ondiviela M, Zihe R, Seago J, Charleston B, Fry EE, Abrescia NGA et al. 2017. Rules of engagement between αvβ6 integrin and foot-and-mouth disease virus. Nat Commun, 8 pp. 15408. | Show Abstract | Read more

Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) mediates cell entry by attachment to an integrin receptor, generally αvβ6, via a conserved arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD) motif in the exposed, antigenic, GH loop of capsid protein VP1. Infection can also occur in tissue culture adapted virus in the absence of integrin via acquired basic mutations interacting with heparin sulphate (HS); this virus is attenuated in natural infections. HS interaction has been visualized at a conserved site in two serotypes suggesting a propensity for sulfated-sugar binding. Here we determined the interaction between αvβ6 and two tissue culture adapted FMDV strains by cryo-electron microscopy. In the preferred mode of engagement, the fully open form of the integrin, hitherto unseen at high resolution, attaches to an extended GH loop via interactions with the RGD motif plus downstream hydrophobic residues. In addition, an N-linked sugar of the integrin attaches to the previously identified HS binding site, suggesting a functional role.

Wang X, Li S-H, Zhu L, Nian Q-G, Yuan S, Gao Q, Hu Z, Ye Q, Li X-F, Xie D-Y et al. 2017. Near-atomic structure of Japanese encephalitis virus reveals critical determinants of virulence and stability. Nat Commun, 8 (1), pp. 14. | Show Abstract | Read more

Although several different flaviviruses may cause encephalitis, Japanese encephalitis virus is the most significant, being responsible for thousands of deaths each year in Asia. The structural and molecular basis of this encephalitis is not fully understood. Here, we report the cryo-electron microscopy structure of mature Japanese encephalitis virus at near-atomic resolution, which reveals an unusual "hole" on the surface, surrounded by five encephalitic-specific motifs implicated in receptor binding. Glu138 of E, which is highly conserved in encephalitic flaviviruses, maps onto one of these motifs and is essential for binding to neuroblastoma cells, with the E138K mutation abrogating the neurovirulence and neuroinvasiveness of Japanese encephalitis virus in mice. We also identify structural elements modulating viral stability, notably Gln264 of E, which, when replaced by His264 strengthens a hydrogen-bonding network, leading to a more stable virus. These studies unveil determinants of neurovirulence and stability in Japanese encephalitis virus, opening up new avenues for therapeutic interventions against neurotropic flaviviruses.Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is a Flavivirus responsible for thousands of deaths every year for which there are no specific anti-virals. Here, Wang et al. report the cryo-EM structure of mature JEV at near-atomic resolution and identify structural elements that modulate stability and virulence.

Sun Z, El Omari K, Sun X, Ilca SL, Kotecha A, Stuart DI, Poranen MM, Huiskonen JT. 2017. Double-stranded RNA virus outer shell assembly by bona fide domain-swapping. Nat Commun, 8 pp. 14814. | Show Abstract | Read more

Correct outer protein shell assembly is a prerequisite for virion infectivity in many multi-shelled dsRNA viruses. In the prototypic dsRNA bacteriophage φ6, the assembly reaction is promoted by calcium ions but its biomechanics remain poorly understood. Here, we describe the near-atomic resolution structure of the φ6 double-shelled particle. The outer T=13 shell protein P8 consists of two alpha-helical domains joined by a linker, which allows the trimer to adopt either a closed or an open conformation. The trimers in an open conformation swap domains with each other. Our observations allow us to propose a mechanistic model for calcium concentration regulated outer shell assembly. Furthermore, the structure provides a prime exemplar of bona fide domain-swapping. This leads us to extend the theory of domain-swapping from the level of monomeric subunits and multimers to closed spherical shells, and to hypothesize a mechanism by which closed protein shells may arise in evolution.

Grieben M, Pike ACW, Shintre CA, Venturi E, El-Ajouz S, Tessitore A, Shrestha L, Mukhopadhyay S, Mahajan P, Chalk R et al. 2017. Structure of the polycystic kidney disease TRP channel Polycystin-2 (PC2). Nat Struct Mol Biol, 24 (2), pp. 114-122. | Show Abstract | Read more

Mutations in either polycystin-1 (PC1 or PKD1) or polycystin-2 (PC2, PKD2 or TRPP1) cause autosomal-dominant polycystic kidney disease (ADPKD) through unknown mechanisms. Here we present the structure of human PC2 in a closed conformation, solved by electron cryomicroscopy at 4.2-Å resolution. The structure reveals a novel polycystin-specific 'tetragonal opening for polycystins' (TOP) domain tightly bound to the top of a classic transient receptor potential (TRP) channel structure. The TOP domain is formed from two extensions to the voltage-sensor-like domain (VSLD); it covers the channel's endoplasmic reticulum lumen or extracellular surface and encloses an upper vestibule, above the pore filter, without blocking the ion-conduction pathway. The TOP-domain fold is conserved among the polycystins, including the homologous channel-like region of PC1, and is the site of a cluster of ADPKD-associated missense variants. Extensive contacts among the TOP-domain subunits, the pore and the VSLD provide ample scope for regulation through physical and chemical stimuli.

Wilkes M, Madej MG, Kreuter L, Rhinow D, Heinz V, De Sanctis S, Ruppel S, Richter RM, Joos F, Grieben M et al. 2017. Molecular insights into lipid-assisted Ca2+ regulation of the TRP channel Polycystin-2. Nat Struct Mol Biol, 24 (2), pp. 123-130. | Show Abstract | Read more

Polycystin-2 (PC2), a calcium-activated cation TRP channel, is involved in diverse Ca2+ signaling pathways. Malfunctioning Ca2+ regulation in PC2 causes autosomal-dominant polycystic kidney disease. Here we report two cryo-EM structures of distinct channel states of full-length human PC2 in complex with lipids and cations. The structures reveal conformational differences in the selectivity filter and in the large exoplasmic domain (TOP domain), which displays differing N-glycosylation. The more open structure has one cation bound below the selectivity filter (single-ion mode, PC2SI), whereas multiple cations are bound along the translocation pathway in the second structure (multi-ion mode, PC2MI). Ca2+ binding at the entrance of the selectivity filter suggests Ca2+ blockage in PC2MI, and we observed density for the Ca2+-sensing C-terminal EF hand in the unblocked PC2SI state. The states show altered interactions of lipids with the pore loop and TOP domain, thus reflecting the functional diversity of PC2 at different locations, owing to different membrane compositions.

Halldorsson S, Behrens A-J, Harlos K, Huiskonen JT, Elliott RM, Crispin M, Brennan B, Bowden TA. 2016. Structure of a phleboviral envelope glycoprotein reveals a consolidated model of membrane fusion. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 113 (26), pp. 7154-7159. | Show Abstract | Read more

An emergent viral pathogen termed severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome virus (SFTSV) is responsible for thousands of clinical cases and associated fatalities in China, Japan, and South Korea. Akin to other phleboviruses, SFTSV relies on a viral glycoprotein, Gc, to catalyze the merger of endosomal host and viral membranes during cell entry. Here, we describe the postfusion structure of SFTSV Gc, revealing that the molecular transformations the phleboviral Gc undergoes upon host cell entry are conserved with otherwise unrelated alpha- and flaviviruses. By comparison of SFTSV Gc with that of the prefusion structure of the related Rift Valley fever virus, we show that these changes involve refolding of the protein into a trimeric state. Reverse genetics and rescue of site-directed histidine mutants enabled localization of histidines likely to be important for triggering this pH-dependent process. These data provide structural and functional evidence that the mechanism of phlebovirus-host cell fusion is conserved among genetically and patho-physiologically distinct viral pathogens.

Zlotnick A, Huiskonen JT. 2016. Editorial overview: Virus structure and assembly: Virions - from structure and physics to design principles. Curr Opin Virol, 18 pp. vii-viii. | Read more

Li S, Rissanen I, Zeltina A, Hepojoki J, Raghwani J, Harlos K, Pybus OG, Huiskonen JT, Bowden TA. 2016. A Molecular-Level Account of the Antigenic Hantaviral Surface. Cell Rep, 15 (5), pp. 959-967. | Show Abstract | Read more

Hantaviruses, a geographically diverse group of zoonotic pathogens, initiate cell infection through the concerted action of Gn and Gc viral surface glycoproteins. Here, we describe the high-resolution crystal structure of the antigenic ectodomain of Gn from Puumala hantavirus (PUUV), a causative agent of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome. Fitting of PUUV Gn into an electron cryomicroscopy reconstruction of intact Gn-Gc spike complexes from the closely related but non-pathogenic Tula hantavirus localized Gn tetramers to the membrane-distal surface of the virion. The accuracy of the fitting was corroborated by epitope mapping and genetic analysis of available PUUV sequences. Interestingly, Gn exhibits greater non-synonymous sequence diversity than the less accessible Gc, supporting a role of the host humoral immune response in exerting selective pressure on the virus surface. The fold of PUUV Gn is likely to be widely conserved across hantaviruses.

Renner M, Bertinelli M, Leyrat C, Paesen GC, Saraiva de Oliveira LF, Huiskonen JT, Grimes JM. 2016. Nucleocapsid assembly in pneumoviruses is regulated by conformational switching of the N protein. Elife, 5 (FEBRUARY2016), pp. e12627. | Show Abstract | Read more

Non-segmented, (-)RNA viruses cause serious human diseases. Human metapneumovirus (HMPV), an emerging pathogen of this order of viruses (Mononegavirales) is one of the main causes of respiratory tract illness in children. To help elucidate the assembly mechanism of the nucleocapsid (the viral RNA genome packaged by the nucleoprotein N) we present crystallographic structures of HMPV N in its assembled RNA-bound state and in a monomeric state, bound to the polymerase cofactor P. Our structures reveal molecular details of how P inhibits the self-assembly of N and how N transitions between the RNA-free and RNA-bound conformational state. Notably, we observe a role for the C-terminal extension of N in directly preventing premature uptake of RNA by folding into the RNA-binding cleft. Our structures suggest a common mechanism of how the growth of the nucleocapsid is orchestrated, and highlight an interaction site representing an important target for antivirals.

Li S, Sun Z, Pryce R, Parsy M-L, Fehling SK, Schlie K, Siebert CA, Garten W, Bowden TA, Strecker T, Huiskonen JT. 2016. Acidic pH-Induced Conformations and LAMP1 Binding of the Lassa Virus Glycoprotein Spike. PLoS Pathog, 12 (2), pp. e1005418. | Show Abstract | Read more

Lassa virus is an enveloped, bi-segmented RNA virus and the most prevalent and fatal of all Old World arenaviruses. Virus entry into the host cell is mediated by a tripartite surface spike complex, which is composed of two viral glycoprotein subunits, GP1 and GP2, and the stable signal peptide. Of these, GP1 binds to cellular receptors and GP2 catalyzes fusion between the viral envelope and the host cell membrane during endocytosis. The molecular structure of the spike and conformational rearrangements induced by low pH, prior to fusion, remain poorly understood. Here, we analyzed the three-dimensional ultrastructure of Lassa virus using electron cryotomography. Sub-tomogram averaging yielded a structure of the glycoprotein spike at 14-Å resolution. The spikes are trimeric, cover the virion envelope, and connect to the underlying matrix. Structural changes to the spike, following acidification, support a viral entry mechanism dependent on binding to the lysosome-resident receptor LAMP1 and further dissociation of the membrane-distal GP1 subunits.

Bitto D, Halldorsson S, Caputo A, Huiskonen JT. 2016. Low pH and Anionic Lipid-dependent Fusion of Uukuniemi Phlebovirus to Liposomes. J Biol Chem, 291 (12), pp. 6412-6422. | Show Abstract | Read more

Many phleboviruses (family Bunyaviridae) are emerging as medically important viruses. These viruses enter target cells by endocytosis and low pH-dependent membrane fusion in late endosomes. However, the necessary and sufficient factors for fusion have not been fully characterized. We have studied the minimal fusion requirements of a prototypic phlebovirus, Uukuniemi virus, in an in vitro virus-liposome assay. We show that efficient lipid mixing between viral and liposome membranes requires close to physiological temperatures and phospholipids with negatively charged headgroups, such as the late endosomal phospholipid bis(monoacylglycero)phosphate. We further demonstrate that bis(monoacylglycero)phosphate increases Uukuniemi virus fusion beyond the lipid mixing stage. By using electron cryotomography of viral particles in the presence or absence of liposomes, we observed that the conformation of phlebovirus glycoprotein capsomers changes from the native conformation toward a more elongated conformation at a fusion permissive pH. Our results suggest a rationale for phlebovirus entry in late endosomes.

Ilca SL, Kotecha A, Sun X, Poranen MM, Stuart DI, Huiskonen JT. 2015. Localized reconstruction of subunits from electron cryomicroscopy images of macromolecular complexes. Nat Commun, 6 (1), pp. 8843. | Show Abstract | Read more

Electron cryomicroscopy can yield near-atomic resolution structures of highly ordered macromolecular complexes. Often however some subunits bind in a flexible manner, have different symmetry from the rest of the complex, or are present in sub-stoichiometric amounts, limiting the attainable resolution. Here we report a general method for the localized three-dimensional reconstruction of such subunits. After determining the particle orientations, local areas corresponding to the subunits can be extracted and treated as single particles. We demonstrate the method using three examples including a flexible assembly and complexes harbouring subunits with either partial occupancy or mismatched symmetry. Most notably, the method allows accurate fitting of the monomeric RNA-dependent RNA polymerase bound at the threefold axis of symmetry inside a viral capsid, revealing for the first time its exact orientation and interactions with the capsid proteins. Localized reconstruction is expected to provide novel biological insights in a range of challenging biological systems.

Bitto D, Harvey DJ, Halldorsson S, Doores KJ, Pritchard LK, Huiskonen JT, Bowden TA, Crispin M. 2015. Determination of N-linked Glycosylation in Viral Glycoproteins by Negative Ion Mass Spectrometry and Ion Mobility. Methods Mol Biol, 1331 pp. 93-121. | Show Abstract | Read more

Glycan analysis of virion-derived glycoproteins is challenging due to the difficulties in glycoprotein isolation and low sample abundance. Here, we describe how ion mobility mass spectrometry can be used to obtain spectra from virion samples. We also describe how negative ion fragmentation of glycans can be used to probe structural features of virion glycans.

Kotecha A, Seago J, Scott K, Burman A, Loureiro S, Ren J, Porta C, Ginn HM, Jackson T, Perez-Martin E et al. 2015. Structure-based energetics of protein interfaces guides foot-and-mouth disease virus vaccine design. Nat Struct Mol Biol, 22 (10), pp. 788-794. | Show Abstract | Read more

Virus capsids are primed for disassembly, yet capsid integrity is key to generating a protective immune response. Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) capsids comprise identical pentameric protein subunits held together by tenuous noncovalent interactions and are often unstable. Chemically inactivated or recombinant empty capsids, which could form the basis of future vaccines, are even less stable than live virus. Here we devised a computational method to assess the relative stability of protein-protein interfaces and used it to design improved candidate vaccines for two poorly stable, but globally important, serotypes of FMDV: O and SAT2. We used a restrained molecular dynamics strategy to rank mutations predicted to strengthen the pentamer interfaces and applied the results to produce stabilized capsids. Structural analyses and stability assays confirmed the predictions, and vaccinated animals generated improved neutralizing-antibody responses to stabilized particles compared to parental viruses and wild-type capsids.

Crispin M, Harvey DJ, Bitto D, Halldorsson S, Bonomelli C, Edgeworth M, Scrivens JH, Huiskonen JT, Bowden TA. 2014. Uukuniemi Phlebovirus assembly and secretion leave a functional imprint on the virion glycome. J Virol, 88 (17), pp. 10244-10251. | Show Abstract | Read more

Uukuniemi virus (UUKV) is a model system for investigating the genus Phlebovirus of the Bunyaviridae. We report the UUKV glycome, revealing differential processing of the Gn and Gc virion glycoproteins. Both glycoproteins display poly-N-acetyllactosamines, consistent with virion assembly in the medial Golgi apparatus, whereas oligomannose-type glycans required for DC-SIGN-dependent cellular attachment are predominant on Gc. Local virion structure and the route of viral egress from the cell leave a functional imprint on the phleboviral glycome.

Leyrat C, Renner M, Harlos K, Huiskonen JT, Grimes JM. 2014. Drastic changes in conformational dynamics of the antiterminator M2-1 regulate transcription efficiency in Pneumovirinae. Elife, 3 (3), pp. e02674. | Show Abstract | Read more

The M2-1 protein of human metapneumovirus (HMPV) is a zinc-binding transcription antiterminator which is highly conserved among pneumoviruses. We report the structure of tetrameric HMPV M2-1. Each protomer features a N-terminal zinc finger domain and an α-helical tetramerization motif forming a rigid unit, followed by a flexible linker and an α-helical core domain. The tetramer is asymmetric, three of the protomers exhibiting a closed conformation, and one an open conformation. Molecular dynamics simulations and SAXS demonstrate a dynamic equilibrium between open and closed conformations in solution. Structures of adenosine monophosphate- and DNA- bound M2-1 establish the role of the zinc finger domain in base-specific recognition of RNA. Binding to 'gene end' RNA sequences stabilized the closed conformation of M2-1 leading to a drastic shift in the conformational landscape of M2-1. We propose a model for recognition of gene end signals and discuss the implications of these findings for transcriptional regulation in pneumoviruses.DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.02674.001.

Crispin M, Harvey DJ, Bitto D, Bonomelli C, Edgeworth M, Scrivens JH, Huiskonen JT, Bowden TA. 2014. Structural plasticity of the Semliki Forest virus glycome upon interspecies transmission. J Proteome Res, 13 (3), pp. 1702-1712. | Show Abstract | Read more

Cross-species viral transmission subjects parent and progeny alphaviruses to differential post-translational processing of viral envelope glycoproteins. Alphavirus biogenesis has been extensively studied, and the Semliki Forest virus E1 and E2 glycoproteins have been shown to exhibit differing degrees of processing of N-linked glycans. However the composition of these glycans, including that arising from different host cells, has not been determined. Here we determined the chemical composition of the glycans from the prototypic alphavirus, Semliki Forest virus, propagated in both arthropod and rodent cell lines, by using ion-mobility mass spectrometry and collision-induced dissociation analysis. We observe that both the membrane-proximal E1 fusion glycoprotein and the protruding E2 attachment glycoprotein display heterogeneous glycosylation that contains N-linked glycans exhibiting both limited and extensive processing. However, E1 contained predominantly highly processed glycans dependent on the host cell, with rodent and mosquito-derived E1 exhibiting complex-type and paucimannose-type glycosylation, respectively. In contrast, the protruding E2 attachment glycoprotein primarily contained conserved under-processed oligomannose-type structures when produced in both rodent and mosquito cell lines. It is likely that glycan processing of E2 is structurally restricted by steric-hindrance imposed by local viral protein structure. This contrasts E1, which presents glycans characteristic of the host cell and is accessible to enzymes. We integrated our findings with previous cryo-electron microscopy and crystallographic analyses to produce a detailed model of the glycosylated mature virion surface. Taken together, these data reveal the degree to which virally encoded protein structure and cellular processing enzymes shape the virion glycome during interspecies transmission of Semliki Forest virus.

Huiskonen JT, Parsy M-L, Li S, Bitto D, Renner M, Bowden TA. 2014. Averaging of viral envelope glycoprotein spikes from electron cryotomography reconstructions using Jsubtomo. J Vis Exp, (92), pp. e51714. | Show Abstract | Read more

Enveloped viruses utilize membrane glycoproteins on their surface to mediate entry into host cells. Three-dimensional structural analysis of these glycoprotein 'spikes' is often technically challenging but important for understanding viral pathogenesis and in drug design. Here, a protocol is presented for viral spike structure determination through computational averaging of electron cryo-tomography data. Electron cryo-tomography is a technique in electron microscopy used to derive three-dimensional tomographic volume reconstructions, or tomograms, of pleomorphic biological specimens such as membrane viruses in a near-native, frozen-hydrated state. These tomograms reveal structures of interest in three dimensions, albeit at low resolution. Computational averaging of sub-volumes, or sub-tomograms, is necessary to obtain higher resolution detail of repeating structural motifs, such as viral glycoprotein spikes. A detailed computational approach for aligning and averaging sub-tomograms using the Jsubtomo software package is outlined. This approach enables visualization of the structure of viral glycoprotein spikes to a resolution in the range of 20-40 Å and study of the study of higher order spike-to-spike interactions on the virion membrane. Typical results are presented for Bunyamwera virus, an enveloped virus from the family Bunyaviridae. This family is a structurally diverse group of pathogens posing a threat to human and animal health.

Leyrat C, Renner M, Harlos K, Huiskonen JT, Grimes JM. 2014. Structure and self-assembly of the calcium binding matrix protein of human metapneumovirus. Structure, 22 (1), pp. 136-148. | Show Abstract | Read more

The matrix protein (M) of paramyxoviruses plays a key role in determining virion morphology by directing viral assembly and budding. Here, we report the crystal structure of the human metapneumovirus M at 2.8 Å resolution in its native dimeric state. The structure reveals the presence of a high-affinity Ca²⁺ binding site. Molecular dynamics simulations (MDS) predict a secondary lower-affinity site that correlates well with data from fluorescence-based thermal shift assays. By combining small-angle X-ray scattering with MDS and ensemble analysis, we captured the structure and dynamics of M in solution. Our analysis reveals a large positively charged patch on the protein surface that is involved in membrane interaction. Structural analysis of DOPC-induced polymerization of M into helical filaments using electron microscopy leads to a model of M self-assembly. The conservation of the Ca²⁺ binding sites suggests a role for calcium in the replication and morphogenesis of pneumoviruses.

York A, Hengrung N, Vreede FT, Huiskonen JT, Fodor E. 2013. Isolation and characterization of the positive-sense replicative intermediate of a negative-strand RNA virus. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 110 (45), pp. E4238-E4245. | Show Abstract | Read more

Negative-strand RNA viruses represent a significant class of important pathogens that cause substantial morbidity and mortality in human and animal hosts worldwide. A defining feature of these viruses is that their single-stranded RNA genomes are of opposite polarity to messenger RNA and are replicated through a positive-sense intermediate. The replicative intermediate is thought to exist as a complementary ribonucleoprotein (cRNP) complex. However, isolation of such complexes from infected cells has never been accomplished. Here we report the development of an RNA-based affinity-purification strategy for the isolation of cRNPs of influenza A virus from infected cells. This technological advance enabled the structural and functional characterization of this elusive but essential component of the viral RNA replication machine. The cRNP exhibits a filamentous double-helical organization with defined termini, containing the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) at one end and a loop structure at the other end. In vitro characterization of cRNP activity yielded mechanistic insights into the workings of this RNA synthesis machine. In particular, we found that cRNPs show activity in vitro only in the presence of added RdRp. Intriguingly, a replication-inactive RdRp mutant was also able to activate cRNP-templated viral RNA synthesis. We propose a model of influenza virus genome replication that relies on the trans-activation of the cRNP-associated RdRp. The described purification strategy should be applicable to other negative-strand RNA viruses and will promote studies into their replication mechanisms.

Parsy M-L, Harlos K, Huiskonen JT, Bowden TA. 2013. Crystal structure of Venezuelan hemorrhagic fever virus fusion glycoprotein reveals a class 1 postfusion architecture with extensive glycosylation. J Virol, 87 (23), pp. 13070-13075. | Show Abstract | Read more

Guanarito virus (GTOV) is an emergent and deadly pathogen. We present the crystal structure of the glycosylated GTOV fusion glycoprotein to 4.1-Å resolution in the postfusion conformation. Our structure reveals a classical six-helix bundle and presents direct verification that New World arenaviruses exhibit class I viral membrane fusion machinery. The structure provides visualization of an N-linked glycocalyx coat, and consideration of glycan dynamics reveals extensive coverage of the underlying protein surface, following virus-host membrane fusion.

Maurer UE, Zeev-Ben-Mordehai T, Pandurangan AP, Cairns TM, Hannah BP, Whitbeck JC, Eisenberg RJ, Cohen GH, Topf M, Huiskonen JT, Grünewald K. 2013. The structure of herpesvirus fusion glycoprotein B-bilayer complex reveals the protein-membrane and lateral protein-protein interaction. Structure, 21 (8), pp. 1396-1405. | Show Abstract | Read more

Glycoprotein B (gB) is a key component of the complex herpesvirus fusion machinery. We studied membrane interaction of two gB ectodomain forms and present an electron cryotomography structure of the gB-bilayer complex. The two forms differed in presence or absence of the membrane proximal region (MPR) but showed an overall similar trimeric shape. The presence of the MPR impeded interaction with liposomes. In contrast, the MPR-lacking form interacted efficiently with liposomes. Lateral interaction resulted in coat formation on the membranes. The structure revealed that interaction of gB with membranes was mediated by the fusion loops and limited to the outer membrane leaflet. The observed intrinsic propensity of gB to cluster on membranes indicates an additional role of gB in driving the fusion process forward beyond the transient fusion pore opening and subsequently leading to fusion pore expansion.

Bowden TA, Bitto D, McLees A, Yeromonahos C, Elliott RM, Huiskonen JT. 2013. Orthobunyavirus ultrastructure and the curious tripodal glycoprotein spike. PLoS Pathog, 9 (5), pp. e1003374. | Show Abstract | Read more

The genus Orthobunyavirus within the family Bunyaviridae constitutes an expanding group of emerging viruses, which threaten human and animal health. Despite the medical importance, little is known about orthobunyavirus structure, a prerequisite for understanding virus assembly and entry. Here, using electron cryo-tomography, we report the ultrastructure of Bunyamwera virus, the prototypic member of this genus. Whilst Bunyamwera virions are pleomorphic in shape, they display a locally ordered lattice of glycoprotein spikes. Each spike protrudes 18 nm from the viral membrane and becomes disordered upon introduction to an acidic environment. Using sub-tomogram averaging, we derived a three-dimensional model of the trimeric pre-fusion glycoprotein spike to 3-nm resolution. The glycoprotein spike consists mainly of the putative class-II fusion glycoprotein and exhibits a unique tripod-like arrangement. Protein-protein contacts between neighbouring spikes occur at membrane-proximal regions and intra-spike contacts at membrane-distal regions. This trimeric assembly deviates from previously observed fusion glycoprotein arrangements, suggesting a greater than anticipated repertoire of viral fusion glycoprotein oligomerization. Our study provides evidence of a pH-dependent conformational change that occurs during orthobunyaviral entry into host cells and a blueprint for the structure of this group of emerging pathogens.

Aalto AP, Bitto D, Ravantti JJ, Bamford DH, Huiskonen JT, Oksanen HM. 2012. Snapshot of virus evolution in hypersaline environments from the characterization of a membrane-containing Salisaeta icosahedral phage 1. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 109 (18), pp. 7079-7084. | Show Abstract | Read more

The multitude of archaea and bacteria inhabiting extreme environments has only become evident during the last decades. As viruses apply a significant evolutionary force to their hosts, there is an inherent value in learning about viruses infecting these extremophiles. In this study, we have focused on one such unique virus-host pair isolated from a hypersaline environment: an icosahedral, membrane-containing double-stranded DNA virus--Salisaeta icosahedral phage 1 (SSIP-1) and its halophilic host bacterium Salisaeta sp. SP9-1 closely related to Salisaeta longa. The architectural principles, virion composition, and the proposed functions associated with some of the ORFs of the virus are surprisingly similar to those found in viruses belonging to the PRD1-adenovirus lineage. The virion structure, determined by electron cryomicroscopy, reveals that the bulk of the outer protein capsid is composed of upright standing pseudohexameric capsomers organized on a T = 49 icosahedral lattice. Our results give a comprehensive description of a halophilic virus-host system and shed light on the relatedness of viruses based on their virion architecture.

Cited:

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European Pubmed Central

Ibiricu I, Huiskonen JT, Döhner K, Bradke F, Sodeik B, Grünewald K. 2011. Cryo electron tomography of herpes simplex virus during axonal transport and secondary envelopment in primary neurons. PLoS Pathog, 7 (12), pp. e1002406. | Show Abstract | Read more

During herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV1) egress in neurons, viral particles travel from the neuronal cell body along the axon towards the synapse. Whether HSV1 particles are transported as enveloped virions as proposed by the 'married' model or as non-enveloped capsids suggested by the 'separate' model is controversial. Specific viral proteins may form a recruitment platform for microtubule motors that catalyze such transport. However, their subviral location has remained elusive. Here we established a system to analyze herpesvirus egress by cryo electron tomography. At 16 h post infection, we observed intra-axonal transport of progeny HSV1 viral particles in dissociated hippocampal neurons by live-cell fluorescence microscopy. Cryo electron tomography of frozen-hydrated neurons revealed that most egressing capsids were transported independently of the viral envelope. Unexpectedly, we found not only DNA-containing capsids (cytosolic C-capsids), but also capsids lacking DNA (cytosolic A-/B-capsids) in mid-axon regions. Subvolume averaging revealed lower amounts of tegument on cytosolic A-/B-capsids than on C-capsids. Nevertheless, all capsid types underwent active axonal transport. Therefore, even few tegument proteins on the capsid vertices seemed to suffice for transport. Secondary envelopment of capsids was observed at axon terminals. On their luminal face, the enveloping vesicles were studded with typical glycoprotein-like spikes. Furthermore, we noted an accretion of tegument density at the concave cytosolic face of the vesicle membrane in close proximity to the capsids. Three-dimensional analysis revealed that these assembly sites lacked cytoskeletal elements, but that filamentous actin surrounded them and formed an assembly compartment. Our data support the 'separate model' for HSV1 egress, i.e. progeny herpes viruses being transported along axons as subassemblies and not as complete virions within transport vesicles.

Karotki L, Huiskonen JT, Stefan CJ, Ziółkowska NE, Roth R, Surma MA, Krogan NJ, Emr SD, Heuser J, Grünewald K, Walther TC. 2011. Eisosome proteins assemble into a membrane scaffold. J Cell Biol, 195 (5), pp. 889-902. | Show Abstract | Read more

Spatial organization of membranes into domains of distinct protein and lipid composition is a fundamental feature of biological systems. The plasma membrane is organized in such domains to efficiently orchestrate the many reactions occurring there simultaneously. Despite the almost universal presence of membrane domains, mechanisms of their formation are often unclear. Yeast cells feature prominent plasma membrane domain organization, which is at least partially mediated by eisosomes. Eisosomes are large protein complexes that are primarily composed of many subunits of two Bin-Amphiphysin-Rvs domain-containing proteins, Pil1 and Lsp1. In this paper, we show that these proteins self-assemble into higher-order structures and bind preferentially to phosphoinositide-containing membranes. Using a combination of electron microscopy approaches, we generate structural models of Pil1 and Lsp1 assemblies, which resemble eisosomes in cells. Our data suggest that the mechanism of membrane organization by eisosomes is mediated by self-assembly of its core components into a membrane-bound protein scaffold with lipid-binding specificity.

Liljeroos L, Huiskonen JT, Ora A, Susi P, Butcher SJ. 2011. Electron cryotomography of measles virus reveals how matrix protein coats the ribonucleocapsid within intact virions. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 108 (44), pp. 18085-18090. | Show Abstract | Read more

Measles virus is a highly infectious, enveloped, pleomorphic virus. We combined electron cryotomography with subvolume averaging and immunosorbent electron microscopy to characterize the 3D ultrastructure of the virion. We show that the matrix protein forms helices coating the helical ribonucleocapsid rather than coating the inner leaflet of the membrane, as previously thought. The ribonucleocapsid is folded into tight bundles through matrix-matrix interactions. The implications for virus assembly are that the matrix already tightly interacts with the ribonucleocapsid in the cytoplasm, providing a structural basis for the previously observed regulation of RNA transcription by the matrix protein. Next, the matrix-covered ribonucleocapsids are transported to the plasma membrane, where the matrix interacts with the envelope glycoproteins during budding. These results are relevant to the nucleocapsid organization and budding of other paramyxoviruses, where isolated matrix has been observed to form helices.

Ziółkowska NE, Karotki L, Rehman M, Huiskonen JT, Walther TC. 2011. Eisosome-driven plasma membrane organization is mediated by BAR domains. Nat Struct Mol Biol, 18 (7), pp. 854-856. | Show Abstract | Read more

Plasma membranes are organized into domains of different protein and lipid composition. Eisosomes are key complexes for yeast plasma membrane organization, containing primarily Pil1 and Lsp1. Here we show that both proteins consist mostly of a banana-shaped BAR domain common to membrane sculpting proteins, most similar to the ones of amphiphysin, arfaptin 2 and endophilin 2. Our data reveal a previously unrecognized family of BAR-domain proteins involved in plasma membrane organization.

Huiskonen JT, Hepojoki J, Laurinmäki P, Vaheri A, Lankinen H, Butcher SJ, Grünewald K. 2010. Electron cryotomography of Tula hantavirus suggests a unique assembly paradigm for enveloped viruses. J Virol, 84 (10), pp. 4889-4897. | Show Abstract | Read more

Hantaviruses (family Bunyaviridae) are rodent-borne emerging viruses that cause a serious, worldwide threat to human health. Hantavirus diseases include hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome and hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome. Virions are enveloped and contain a tripartite single-stranded negative-sense RNA genome. Two types of glycoproteins, G(N) and G(C), are embedded in the viral membrane and form protrusions, or "spikes." The membrane encloses a ribonucleoprotein core, which consists of the RNA segments, the nucleocapsid protein, and the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. Detailed information on hantavirus virion structure and glycoprotein spike composition is scarce. Here, we have studied the structures of Tula hantavirus virions using electron cryomicroscopy and tomography. Three-dimensional density maps show how the hantavirus surface glycoproteins, membrane, and ribonucleoprotein are organized. The structure of the G(N)-G(C) spike complex was solved to 3.6-nm resolution by averaging tomographic subvolumes. Each spike complex is a square-shaped assembly with 4-fold symmetry. Spike complexes formed ordered patches on the viral membrane by means of specific lateral interactions. These interactions may be sufficient for creating membrane curvature during virus budding. In conclusion, the structure and assembly principles of Tula hantavirus exemplify a unique assembly paradigm for enveloped viruses.

Huiskonen JT, Overby AK, Weber F, Grünewald K. 2009. Electron cryo-microscopy and single-particle averaging of Rift Valley fever virus: evidence for GN-GC glycoprotein heterodimers. J Virol, 83 (8), pp. 3762-3769. | Show Abstract | Read more

Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) is a member of the genus Phlebovirus within the family Bunyaviridae. It is a mosquito-borne zoonotic agent that can cause hemorrhagic fever in humans. The enveloped RVFV virions are known to be covered by capsomers of the glycoproteins G(N) and G(C), organized on a T=12 icosahedral lattice. However, the structural units forming the RVFV capsomers have not been determined. Conflicting biochemical results for another phlebovirus (Uukuniemi virus) have indicated the existence of either G(N) and G(C) homodimers or G(N)-G(C) heterodimers in virions. Here, we have studied the structure of RVFV using electron cryo-microscopy combined with three-dimensional reconstruction and single-particle averaging. The reconstruction at 2.2-nm resolution revealed the organization of the glycoprotein shell, the lipid bilayer, and a layer of ribonucleoprotein (RNP). Five- and six-coordinated capsomers are formed by the same basic structural unit. Molecular-mass measurements suggest a G(N)-G(C) heterodimer as the most likely candidate for this structural unit. Both leaflets of the lipid bilayer were discernible, and the glycoprotein transmembrane densities were seen to modulate the curvature of the lipid bilayer. RNP densities were situated directly underneath the transmembrane densities, suggesting an interaction between the glycoprotein cytoplasmic tails and the RNPs. The success of the single-particle averaging approach taken in this study suggests that it is applicable in the study of other phleboviruses, as well, enabling higher-resolution description of these medically important pathogens.

Habjan M, Penski N, Wagner V, Spiegel M, Overby AK, Kochs G, Huiskonen JT, Weber F. 2009. Efficient production of Rift Valley fever virus-like particles: The antiviral protein MxA can inhibit primary transcription of bunyaviruses. Virology, 385 (2), pp. 400-408. | Show Abstract | Read more

Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) is a highly pathogenic member of the family Bunyaviridae that needs to be handled under biosafety level (BSL) 3 conditions. Here, we describe reverse genetics systems to measure RVFV polymerase activity in mammalian cells and to generate virus-like particles (VLPs). Recombinant polymerase (L) and nucleocapsid protein (N), expressed together with a minireplicon RNA, formed transcriptionally active nucleocapsids. These could be packaged into VLPs by additional expression of viral glycoproteins. The VLPs resembled authentic virus particles and were able to infect new cells. After infection, VLP-associated nucleocapsids autonomously performed primary transcription, and co-expression of L and N in VLP-infected cells allowed subsequent replication and secondary transcription. Bunyaviruses are potently inhibited by a human interferon-induced protein, MxA. However, the affected step in the infection cycle is not entirely characterized. Using the VLP system, we demonstrate that MxA inhibits both primary and secondary transcriptions of RVFV. A set of infection assays distinguishing between virus attachment, entry, and subsequent RNA synthesis confirmed that MxA is able to target immediate early RNA synthesis of incoming RVFV particles. Thus, our reverse genetics systems are useful for dissecting individual steps of RVFV infection under non-BSL3 conditions.

Overby AK, Pettersson RF, Grünewald K, Huiskonen JT. 2008. Insights into bunyavirus architecture from electron cryotomography of Uukuniemi virus. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 105 (7), pp. 2375-2379. | Show Abstract | Read more

Bunyaviridae is a large family of viruses that have gained attention as "emerging viruses" because many members cause serious disease in humans, with an increasing number of outbreaks. These negative-strand RNA viruses possess a membrane envelope covered by glycoproteins. The virions are pleiomorphic and thus have not been amenable to structural characterization using common techniques that involve averaging of electron microscopic images. Here, we determined the three-dimensional structure of a member of the Bunyaviridae family by using electron cryotomography. The genome, incorporated as a complex with the nucleoprotein inside the virions, was seen as a thread-like structure partially interacting with the viral membrane. Although no ordered nucleocapsid was observed, lateral interactions between the two membrane glycoproteins determine the structure of the viral particles. In the most regular particles, the glycoprotein protrusions, or "spikes," were seen to be arranged on an icosahedral lattice, with T = 12 triangulation. This arrangement has not yet been proven for a virus. Two distinctly different spike conformations were observed, which were shown to depend on pH. This finding is reminiscent of the fusion proteins of alpha-, flavi-, and influenza viruses, in which conformational changes occur in the low pH of the endosome to facilitate fusion of the viral and host membrane during viral entry.

Huiskonen JT, Jäälinoja HT, Briggs JAG, Fuller SD, Butcher SJ. 2007. Structure of a hexameric RNA packaging motor in a viral polymerase complex. J Struct Biol, 158 (2), pp. 156-164. | Show Abstract | Read more

Packaging of the Cystovirus varphi8 genome into the polymerase complex is catalysed by the hexameric P4 packaging motor. The motor is located at the fivefold vertices of the icosahedrally symmetric polymerase complex, and the symmetry mismatch between them may be critical for function. We have developed a novel image-processing approach for the analysis of symmetry-mismatched structures and applied it to cryo-electron microscopy images of P4 bound to the polymerase complex. This approach allowed us to solve the three-dimensional structure of the P4 in situ to 15-A resolution. The C-terminal face of P4 was observed to interact with the polymerase complex, supporting the current view on RNA translocation. We suggest that the symmetry mismatch between the two components may facilitate the ring opening required for RNA loading prior to its translocation.

Huiskonen JT, Manole V, Butcher SJ. 2007. Tale of two spikes in bacteriophage PRD1. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 104 (16), pp. 6666-6671. | Show Abstract | Read more

Structural comparisons between bacteriophage PRD1 and adenovirus have revealed an evolutionary relationship that has contributed significantly to current ideas on virus phylogeny. However, the structural organization of the receptor-binding spike complex and how the different symmetry mismatches are mediated between the spike-complex proteins are not clear. We determined the architecture of the PRD1 spike complex by using electron microscopy and three-dimensional image reconstruction of a series of PRD1 mutants. We constructed an atomic model for the full-length P5 spike protein by using comparative modeling. P5 was shown to be bound directly to the penton base protein P31. P5 and the receptor-binding protein P2 form two separate spikes, interacting with each other near the capsid shell. P5, with a tumor necrosis factor-like head domain, may have been responsible for host recognition before capture of the current receptor-binding protein P2.

Huiskonen JT, Butcher SJ. 2007. Membrane-containing viruses with icosahedrally symmetric capsids. Curr Opin Struct Biol, 17 (2), pp. 229-236. | Show Abstract | Read more

Viruses with an icosahedrally symmetric protein capsid and a membrane infect hosts from all three domains of life. Similar architectural principles are shared by different viral families, as exemplified by double-stranded DNA viruses such as PRD1 and STIV. During virus assembly, the membrane lipids are selectively acquired from the host cell. The X-ray structure of bacteriophage PRD1 revealed that the lipids are asymmetrically distributed between the two leaflets and facet length is controlled by a tape-measure protein. In most membrane-containing viruses, viral and host membranes fuse during viral entry. In the best-understood systems of the alphaviruses, flaviviruses and herpes viruses, fusion is mediated by viral glycoproteins. Recent structural advances reveal how very different protein architectures can be used to form trimeric extensions that extend into the target cell membrane and then fold back to mediate fusion of the target and viral membranes.

Jäälinoja HT, Huiskonen JT, Butcher SJ. 2007. Electron cryomicroscopy comparison of the architectures of the enveloped bacteriophages phi6 and phi8. Structure, 15 (2), pp. 157-167. | Show Abstract | Read more

The enveloped dsRNA bacteriophages phi6 and phi8 are the two most distantly related members of the Cystoviridae family. Their structure and function are similar to that of the Reoviridae but their assembly can be conveniently studied in vitro. Electron cryomicroscopy and three-dimensional icosahedral reconstruction were used to determine the structures of the phi6 virion (14 A resolution), phi8 virion (18 A resolution), and phi8 core (8.5 A resolution). Spikes protrude 2 nm from the membrane bilayer in phi6 and 7 nm in phi8. In the phi6 nucleocapsid, 600 copies of P8 and 72 copies of P4 interact with the membrane, whereas in phi8 it is only P4 and 60 copies of a minor protein. The major polymerase complex protein P1 forms a dodecahedral shell from 60 asymmetric dimers in both viruses, but the alpha-helical fold has apparently diverged. These structural differences reflect the different host ranges and entry and assembly mechanisms of the two viruses.

Huiskonen JT, de Haas F, Bubeck D, Bamford DH, Fuller SD, Butcher SJ. 2006. Structure of the bacteriophage phi6 nucleocapsid suggests a mechanism for sequential RNA packaging. Structure, 14 (6), pp. 1039-1048. | Show Abstract | Read more

Bacteriophage phi6 is an enveloped dsRNA virus with a segmented genome. Phi6 specifically packages one copy of each of its three genome segments into a preassembled polymerase complex. This leads to expansion of the polymerase complex, minus and plus strand RNA synthesis, and assembly of the nucleocapsid. The phi6 in vitro assembly and packaging system is a valuable model for dsRNA virus replication. The structure of the nucleocapsid at 7.5 A resolution presented here reveals the secondary structure of the two major capsid proteins. Asymmetric P1 dimers organize as an inner T = 1 shell, and P8 trimers organize as an outer T = 13 laevo shell. The organization of the P1 molecules in the unexpanded and expanded polymerase complex suggests that the expansion is accomplished by rigid body movements of the P1 monomers. This leads to exposure of new potential RNA binding surfaces to control the sequential packaging of the genome segments.

Laurinmäki PA, Huiskonen JT, Bamford DH, Butcher SJ. 2005. Membrane proteins modulate the bilayer curvature in the bacterial virus Bam35. Structure, 13 (12), pp. 1819-1828. | Show Abstract | Read more

Biological membranes control the flow of molecules into and out of cells, and they transmit information about the milieu. Structural studies of membrane-containing viruses provide one way to study these membranes in situ. Cryo-electron microscopy and image reconstruction of bacteriophage Bam35 to 7.3 A resolution revealed a membrane bilayer constrained within an icosahedrally symmetric pseudo T = 25 capsid. A total of 60 large transmembrane protein complexes affect the curvature and thickness of the membrane. Here, we describe these membrane parameters quantitatively. Furthermore, we show that Bam35 differs from bacteriophage PRD1 in these parameters, even though the two viruses share the same principles of capsid architecture. Most notably, each virus possesses a tape measure protein suggesting a general mechanism for capsid size determination in icosahedral viruses.

Briggs JAG, Huiskonen JT, Fernando KV, Gilbert RJC, Scotti P, Butcher SJ, Fuller SD. 2005. Classification and three-dimensional reconstruction of unevenly distributed or symmetry mismatched features of icosahedral particles. J Struct Biol, 150 (3), pp. 332-339. | Show Abstract | Read more

Methods for the three-dimensional reconstruction of icosahedral particles, such as spherical viruses, from electron micrographs are well established. These methods take advantage of the 60-fold symmetry of the icosahedral group. Several features within these particles, however, may deviate from icosahedral symmetry. Examples include viral genomes, symmetry mismatched vertex proteins, unique DNA packaging vertices, flexible proteins, and proteins that are present at less than 100% occupancy. Such asymmetrically distributed features are smeared in the final density map when icosahedral symmetry is applied. Here, we describe a novel approach to classifying, analysing, and obtaining three-dimensional reconstructions of such features. The approach uses the orientation information derived from the icosahedral orientation search to facilitate multivariate statistical analysis and to limit the orientational degrees of freedom for reconstruction. We demonstrate the application of this approach to images of Kelp fly Virus. In this case, each virion may have two different types of fivefold vertex. We use our approach to produce independent reconstructions of the two types of vertex.

Merckel MC, Huiskonen JT, Bamford DH, Goldman A, Tuma R. 2005. The structure of the bacteriophage PRD1 spike sheds light on the evolution of viral capsid architecture. Mol Cell, 18 (2), pp. 161-170. | Show Abstract | Read more

Comparisons of bacteriophage PRD1 and adenovirus protein structures and virion architectures have been instrumental in unraveling an evolutionary relationship and have led to a proposal of a phylogeny-based virus classification. The structure of the PRD1 spike protein P5 provides further insight into the evolution of viral proteins. The crystallized P5 fragment comprises two structural domains: a globular knob and a fibrous shaft. The head folds into a ten-stranded jelly roll beta barrel, which is structurally related to the tumor necrosis factor (TNF) and the PRD1 coat protein domains. The shaft domain is a structural counterpart to the adenovirus spike shaft. The structural relationships between PRD1, TNF, and adenovirus proteins suggest that the vertex proteins may have originated from an ancestral TNF-like jelly roll coat protein via a combination of gene duplication and deletion.

Huiskonen JT, Kivelä HM, Bamford DH, Butcher SJ. 2004. The PM2 virion has a novel organization with an internal membrane and pentameric receptor binding spikes. Nat Struct Mol Biol, 11 (9), pp. 850-856. | Show Abstract | Read more

Biological membranes are notoriously resistant to structural analysis. Excellent candidates to tackle this problem in situ are membrane-containing viruses where the membrane is constrained by an icosahedral capsid. Cryo-EM and image reconstruction of bacteriophage PM2 revealed a membrane bilayer following the internal surface of the capsid. The viral genome closely interacts with the inner leaflet. The capsid, at a resolution of 8.4 A, reveals 200 trimeric capsomers with a pseudo T = 21 dextro organization. Pentameric receptor-binding spikes protrude from the surface. It is evident from the structure that the PM2 membrane has at least two important roles in the life cycle. First, it acts as a scaffold to nucleate capsid assembly. Second, after host recognition, it fuses with the host outer membrane to promote genome entry. The structure also sheds light on how the viral supercoiled circular double-stranded DNA genome might be packaged and released.

Huiskonen JT, Laakkonen L, Toropainen M, Sarvas M, Bamford DH, Bamford JKH. 2003. Probing the ability of the coat and vertex protein of the membrane-containing bacteriophage PRD1 to display a meningococcal epitope. Virology, 310 (2), pp. 267-279. | Show Abstract | Read more

Bacteriophage PRD1 is an icosahedral dsDNA virus with a diameter of 740 A and an outer protein shell composed of 720 copies of major coat protein P3. Spike complexes at the vertices are composed of a pentameric base (protein P31) and a spike structure (proteins P5 and P2) where the N-terminal region of the trimeric P5 is associated with the base and the C-terminal region of P5 is associated with receptor-binding protein P2. The functionality of proteins P3 and P5 was investigated using insertions and deletions. It was observed that P3 did not tolerate changes whereas P5 tolerated changes much more freely. These properties support the hypothesis that viruses have core structures and functions, which remain stable over time, as well as other elements, responsible for host interactions, which are evolutionally more fluid. The insertional probe used was the apex of exposed loop 4 of group B meningococcal outer membrane protein PorA, a medically important subunit vaccine candidate. It was demonstrated that the epitope could be displayed on the virus surface as part of spike protein P5.

San Martín C, Huiskonen JT, Bamford JKH, Butcher SJ, Fuller SD, Bamford DH, Burnett RM. 2002. Minor proteins, mobile arms and membrane-capsid interactions in the bacteriophage PRD1 capsid. Nat Struct Biol, 9 (10), pp. 756-763. | Show Abstract | Read more

Bacteriophage PRD1 shares many structural and functional similarities with adenovirus. A major difference is the PRD1 internal membrane, which acts in concert with vertex proteins to translocate the phage genome into the host. Multiresolution models of the PRD1 capsid, together with genetic analyses, provide fine details of the molecular interactions associated with particle stability and membrane dynamics. The N- and C-termini of the major coat protein (P3), which are required for capsid assembly, act as conformational switches bridging capsid to membrane and linking P3 trimers. Electrostatic P3-membrane interactions increase virion stability upon DNA packaging. Newly revealed proteins suggest how the metastable vertex works and how the capsid edges are stabilized.

Halldorsson S, Li S, Li M, Harlos K, Bowden TA, Huiskonen JT. 2018. Shielding and activation of a viral membrane fusion protein. Nat Commun, 9 (1), pp. 349. | Show Abstract | Read more

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.

Kotecha A, Wang Q, Dong X, Ilca SL, Ondiviela M, Zihe R, Seago J, Charleston B, Fry EE, Abrescia NGA et al. 2017. Rules of engagement between αvβ6 integrin and foot-and-mouth disease virus. Nat Commun, 8 pp. 15408. | Show Abstract | Read more

Foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) mediates cell entry by attachment to an integrin receptor, generally αvβ6, via a conserved arginine-glycine-aspartic acid (RGD) motif in the exposed, antigenic, GH loop of capsid protein VP1. Infection can also occur in tissue culture adapted virus in the absence of integrin via acquired basic mutations interacting with heparin sulphate (HS); this virus is attenuated in natural infections. HS interaction has been visualized at a conserved site in two serotypes suggesting a propensity for sulfated-sugar binding. Here we determined the interaction between αvβ6 and two tissue culture adapted FMDV strains by cryo-electron microscopy. In the preferred mode of engagement, the fully open form of the integrin, hitherto unseen at high resolution, attaches to an extended GH loop via interactions with the RGD motif plus downstream hydrophobic residues. In addition, an N-linked sugar of the integrin attaches to the previously identified HS binding site, suggesting a functional role.

Sun Z, El Omari K, Sun X, Ilca SL, Kotecha A, Stuart DI, Poranen MM, Huiskonen JT. 2017. Double-stranded RNA virus outer shell assembly by bona fide domain-swapping. Nat Commun, 8 pp. 14814. | Show Abstract | Read more

Correct outer protein shell assembly is a prerequisite for virion infectivity in many multi-shelled dsRNA viruses. In the prototypic dsRNA bacteriophage φ6, the assembly reaction is promoted by calcium ions but its biomechanics remain poorly understood. Here, we describe the near-atomic resolution structure of the φ6 double-shelled particle. The outer T=13 shell protein P8 consists of two alpha-helical domains joined by a linker, which allows the trimer to adopt either a closed or an open conformation. The trimers in an open conformation swap domains with each other. Our observations allow us to propose a mechanistic model for calcium concentration regulated outer shell assembly. Furthermore, the structure provides a prime exemplar of bona fide domain-swapping. This leads us to extend the theory of domain-swapping from the level of monomeric subunits and multimers to closed spherical shells, and to hypothesize a mechanism by which closed protein shells may arise in evolution.

Li S, Rissanen I, Zeltina A, Hepojoki J, Raghwani J, Harlos K, Pybus OG, Huiskonen JT, Bowden TA. 2016. A Molecular-Level Account of the Antigenic Hantaviral Surface. Cell Rep, 15 (5), pp. 959-967. | Show Abstract | Read more

Hantaviruses, a geographically diverse group of zoonotic pathogens, initiate cell infection through the concerted action of Gn and Gc viral surface glycoproteins. Here, we describe the high-resolution crystal structure of the antigenic ectodomain of Gn from Puumala hantavirus (PUUV), a causative agent of hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome. Fitting of PUUV Gn into an electron cryomicroscopy reconstruction of intact Gn-Gc spike complexes from the closely related but non-pathogenic Tula hantavirus localized Gn tetramers to the membrane-distal surface of the virion. The accuracy of the fitting was corroborated by epitope mapping and genetic analysis of available PUUV sequences. Interestingly, Gn exhibits greater non-synonymous sequence diversity than the less accessible Gc, supporting a role of the host humoral immune response in exerting selective pressure on the virus surface. The fold of PUUV Gn is likely to be widely conserved across hantaviruses.

Li S, Sun Z, Pryce R, Parsy M-L, Fehling SK, Schlie K, Siebert CA, Garten W, Bowden TA, Strecker T, Huiskonen JT. 2016. Acidic pH-Induced Conformations and LAMP1 Binding of the Lassa Virus Glycoprotein Spike. PLoS Pathog, 12 (2), pp. e1005418. | Show Abstract | Read more

Lassa virus is an enveloped, bi-segmented RNA virus and the most prevalent and fatal of all Old World arenaviruses. Virus entry into the host cell is mediated by a tripartite surface spike complex, which is composed of two viral glycoprotein subunits, GP1 and GP2, and the stable signal peptide. Of these, GP1 binds to cellular receptors and GP2 catalyzes fusion between the viral envelope and the host cell membrane during endocytosis. The molecular structure of the spike and conformational rearrangements induced by low pH, prior to fusion, remain poorly understood. Here, we analyzed the three-dimensional ultrastructure of Lassa virus using electron cryotomography. Sub-tomogram averaging yielded a structure of the glycoprotein spike at 14-Å resolution. The spikes are trimeric, cover the virion envelope, and connect to the underlying matrix. Structural changes to the spike, following acidification, support a viral entry mechanism dependent on binding to the lysosome-resident receptor LAMP1 and further dissociation of the membrane-distal GP1 subunits.

Bitto D, Halldorsson S, Caputo A, Huiskonen JT. 2016. Low pH and Anionic Lipid-dependent Fusion of Uukuniemi Phlebovirus to Liposomes. J Biol Chem, 291 (12), pp. 6412-6422. | Show Abstract | Read more

Many phleboviruses (family Bunyaviridae) are emerging as medically important viruses. These viruses enter target cells by endocytosis and low pH-dependent membrane fusion in late endosomes. However, the necessary and sufficient factors for fusion have not been fully characterized. We have studied the minimal fusion requirements of a prototypic phlebovirus, Uukuniemi virus, in an in vitro virus-liposome assay. We show that efficient lipid mixing between viral and liposome membranes requires close to physiological temperatures and phospholipids with negatively charged headgroups, such as the late endosomal phospholipid bis(monoacylglycero)phosphate. We further demonstrate that bis(monoacylglycero)phosphate increases Uukuniemi virus fusion beyond the lipid mixing stage. By using electron cryotomography of viral particles in the presence or absence of liposomes, we observed that the conformation of phlebovirus glycoprotein capsomers changes from the native conformation toward a more elongated conformation at a fusion permissive pH. Our results suggest a rationale for phlebovirus entry in late endosomes.

Ilca SL, Kotecha A, Sun X, Poranen MM, Stuart DI, Huiskonen JT. 2015. Localized reconstruction of subunits from electron cryomicroscopy images of macromolecular complexes. Nat Commun, 6 (1), pp. 8843. | Show Abstract | Read more

Electron cryomicroscopy can yield near-atomic resolution structures of highly ordered macromolecular complexes. Often however some subunits bind in a flexible manner, have different symmetry from the rest of the complex, or are present in sub-stoichiometric amounts, limiting the attainable resolution. Here we report a general method for the localized three-dimensional reconstruction of such subunits. After determining the particle orientations, local areas corresponding to the subunits can be extracted and treated as single particles. We demonstrate the method using three examples including a flexible assembly and complexes harbouring subunits with either partial occupancy or mismatched symmetry. Most notably, the method allows accurate fitting of the monomeric RNA-dependent RNA polymerase bound at the threefold axis of symmetry inside a viral capsid, revealing for the first time its exact orientation and interactions with the capsid proteins. Localized reconstruction is expected to provide novel biological insights in a range of challenging biological systems.

Leyrat C, Renner M, Harlos K, Huiskonen JT, Grimes JM. 2014. Drastic changes in conformational dynamics of the antiterminator M2-1 regulate transcription efficiency in Pneumovirinae. Elife, 3 (3), pp. e02674. | Show Abstract | Read more

The M2-1 protein of human metapneumovirus (HMPV) is a zinc-binding transcription antiterminator which is highly conserved among pneumoviruses. We report the structure of tetrameric HMPV M2-1. Each protomer features a N-terminal zinc finger domain and an α-helical tetramerization motif forming a rigid unit, followed by a flexible linker and an α-helical core domain. The tetramer is asymmetric, three of the protomers exhibiting a closed conformation, and one an open conformation. Molecular dynamics simulations and SAXS demonstrate a dynamic equilibrium between open and closed conformations in solution. Structures of adenosine monophosphate- and DNA- bound M2-1 establish the role of the zinc finger domain in base-specific recognition of RNA. Binding to 'gene end' RNA sequences stabilized the closed conformation of M2-1 leading to a drastic shift in the conformational landscape of M2-1. We propose a model for recognition of gene end signals and discuss the implications of these findings for transcriptional regulation in pneumoviruses.DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.02674.001.

York A, Hengrung N, Vreede FT, Huiskonen JT, Fodor E. 2013. Isolation and characterization of the positive-sense replicative intermediate of a negative-strand RNA virus. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 110 (45), pp. E4238-E4245. | Show Abstract | Read more

Negative-strand RNA viruses represent a significant class of important pathogens that cause substantial morbidity and mortality in human and animal hosts worldwide. A defining feature of these viruses is that their single-stranded RNA genomes are of opposite polarity to messenger RNA and are replicated through a positive-sense intermediate. The replicative intermediate is thought to exist as a complementary ribonucleoprotein (cRNP) complex. However, isolation of such complexes from infected cells has never been accomplished. Here we report the development of an RNA-based affinity-purification strategy for the isolation of cRNPs of influenza A virus from infected cells. This technological advance enabled the structural and functional characterization of this elusive but essential component of the viral RNA replication machine. The cRNP exhibits a filamentous double-helical organization with defined termini, containing the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) at one end and a loop structure at the other end. In vitro characterization of cRNP activity yielded mechanistic insights into the workings of this RNA synthesis machine. In particular, we found that cRNPs show activity in vitro only in the presence of added RdRp. Intriguingly, a replication-inactive RdRp mutant was also able to activate cRNP-templated viral RNA synthesis. We propose a model of influenza virus genome replication that relies on the trans-activation of the cRNP-associated RdRp. The described purification strategy should be applicable to other negative-strand RNA viruses and will promote studies into their replication mechanisms.

Bowden TA, Bitto D, McLees A, Yeromonahos C, Elliott RM, Huiskonen JT. 2013. Orthobunyavirus ultrastructure and the curious tripodal glycoprotein spike. PLoS Pathog, 9 (5), pp. e1003374. | Show Abstract | Read more

The genus Orthobunyavirus within the family Bunyaviridae constitutes an expanding group of emerging viruses, which threaten human and animal health. Despite the medical importance, little is known about orthobunyavirus structure, a prerequisite for understanding virus assembly and entry. Here, using electron cryo-tomography, we report the ultrastructure of Bunyamwera virus, the prototypic member of this genus. Whilst Bunyamwera virions are pleomorphic in shape, they display a locally ordered lattice of glycoprotein spikes. Each spike protrudes 18 nm from the viral membrane and becomes disordered upon introduction to an acidic environment. Using sub-tomogram averaging, we derived a three-dimensional model of the trimeric pre-fusion glycoprotein spike to 3-nm resolution. The glycoprotein spike consists mainly of the putative class-II fusion glycoprotein and exhibits a unique tripod-like arrangement. Protein-protein contacts between neighbouring spikes occur at membrane-proximal regions and intra-spike contacts at membrane-distal regions. This trimeric assembly deviates from previously observed fusion glycoprotein arrangements, suggesting a greater than anticipated repertoire of viral fusion glycoprotein oligomerization. Our study provides evidence of a pH-dependent conformational change that occurs during orthobunyaviral entry into host cells and a blueprint for the structure of this group of emerging pathogens.

Aalto AP, Bitto D, Ravantti JJ, Bamford DH, Huiskonen JT, Oksanen HM. 2012. Snapshot of virus evolution in hypersaline environments from the characterization of a membrane-containing Salisaeta icosahedral phage 1. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 109 (18), pp. 7079-7084. | Show Abstract | Read more

The multitude of archaea and bacteria inhabiting extreme environments has only become evident during the last decades. As viruses apply a significant evolutionary force to their hosts, there is an inherent value in learning about viruses infecting these extremophiles. In this study, we have focused on one such unique virus-host pair isolated from a hypersaline environment: an icosahedral, membrane-containing double-stranded DNA virus--Salisaeta icosahedral phage 1 (SSIP-1) and its halophilic host bacterium Salisaeta sp. SP9-1 closely related to Salisaeta longa. The architectural principles, virion composition, and the proposed functions associated with some of the ORFs of the virus are surprisingly similar to those found in viruses belonging to the PRD1-adenovirus lineage. The virion structure, determined by electron cryomicroscopy, reveals that the bulk of the outer protein capsid is composed of upright standing pseudohexameric capsomers organized on a T = 49 icosahedral lattice. Our results give a comprehensive description of a halophilic virus-host system and shed light on the relatedness of viruses based on their virion architecture.

Huiskonen JT, Hepojoki J, Laurinmäki P, Vaheri A, Lankinen H, Butcher SJ, Grünewald K. 2010. Electron cryotomography of Tula hantavirus suggests a unique assembly paradigm for enveloped viruses. J Virol, 84 (10), pp. 4889-4897. | Show Abstract | Read more

Hantaviruses (family Bunyaviridae) are rodent-borne emerging viruses that cause a serious, worldwide threat to human health. Hantavirus diseases include hemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome and hantavirus cardiopulmonary syndrome. Virions are enveloped and contain a tripartite single-stranded negative-sense RNA genome. Two types of glycoproteins, G(N) and G(C), are embedded in the viral membrane and form protrusions, or "spikes." The membrane encloses a ribonucleoprotein core, which consists of the RNA segments, the nucleocapsid protein, and the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase. Detailed information on hantavirus virion structure and glycoprotein spike composition is scarce. Here, we have studied the structures of Tula hantavirus virions using electron cryomicroscopy and tomography. Three-dimensional density maps show how the hantavirus surface glycoproteins, membrane, and ribonucleoprotein are organized. The structure of the G(N)-G(C) spike complex was solved to 3.6-nm resolution by averaging tomographic subvolumes. Each spike complex is a square-shaped assembly with 4-fold symmetry. Spike complexes formed ordered patches on the viral membrane by means of specific lateral interactions. These interactions may be sufficient for creating membrane curvature during virus budding. In conclusion, the structure and assembly principles of Tula hantavirus exemplify a unique assembly paradigm for enveloped viruses.

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