Solution structure of the influenza A virus cRNA promoter: implications for differential recognition of viral promoter structures by RNA-dependent RNA polymerase.
ABSTRACT: Influenza A virus replication requires the interaction of viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) with promoters in both the RNA genome (vRNA) and the full-length complementary RNA (cRNA) which serve as templates for the generation of new vRNAs. Although RdRp binds both promoters effectively, it must also discriminate between them because they serve different functional roles in the viral life cycle. Even though the inherent asymmetry between two RNA promoters is considered as a cause of the differential recognition by the RdRp, the structural basis for the ability of the RdRp to recognize the RNA promoters and discriminate effectively between them remains unsolved. Here we report the structure of the cRNA promoter of influenza A virus as determined by heteronuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The terminal region is extremely unstable and does not have a rigid structure. The major groove of the internal loop is widened by the displacement of a novel A*(UU) motif toward the minor groove. These internal loop residues show distinguishable dynamic characters, with differing motional timescales for each residue. Comparison of the cRNA promoter structure with that of the vRNA promoter reveals common structural and dynamic elements in the internal loop, but also differences that provide insight into how the viral RdRp differentially recognizes the cRNA and vRNA promoters.
Project description:The influenza A virus genome consists of eight segments of single-stranded RNA. These segments are replicated and transcribed by a viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) that is made up of the influenza virus proteins PB1, PB2, and PA. To copy the viral RNA (vRNA) genome segments and the cRNA segments, the replicative intermediate of viral replication, the RdRp must use two promoters and two different de novo initiation mechanisms. On the vRNA promoter, the RdRp initiates on the 3' terminus, while on the cRNA promoter, the RdRp initiates internally and subsequently realigns the nascent vRNA product to ensure that the template is copied in full. In particular, the latter process, which is also used by other RNA viruses, is not understood. Here we provide mechanistic insight into priming and realignment during influenza virus replication and show that it is controlled by the priming loop and a helix-loop-helix motif of the PB1 subunit of the RdRp. Overall, these observations advance our understanding of how the influenza A virus initiates viral replication and amplifies the genome correctly.IMPORTANCE Influenza A viruses cause severe disease in humans and are considered a major threat to our economy and health. The viruses replicate and transcribe their genome by using an enzyme called the RNA polymerases. To ensure that the genome is amplified faithfully and that abundant viral mRNAs are made for viral protein synthesis, the RNA polymerase must work correctly. In this report, we provide insight into the mechanism that the RNA polymerase employs to ensure that the viral genome is copied correctly.
Project description:Eight-segmented, negative-sense, single-stranded genomic RNAs of influenza A virus are terminated with 5' and 3' untranslated regions (UTRs). All segments have highly conserved extremities of 13 and 12 nucleotides at the 5' and 3' UTRs, respectively, constructing the viral RNA (vRNA) promoter. Adjacent to the duplex stem of 3 base pairs (bps) between the two conserved strands, additional 1-4 bps are existing in a segment-specific manner. We investigated the roles of the matrix (M) segment-specific base pair between the 14<sup>th</sup> nucleotide uridine (U14') of the 5' UTR and the 13<sup>th</sup> nucleotide adenosine (A13) of the 3' UTR by preparing possible vRNA promoters, named vXY, as well as cRNA promoters, named cYX. We analysed their RNA-dependent RNA replication efficiency using the minigenome replicon system and an enzyme assay system <i>in vitro</i> with synthetic RNA promoters. Notably, in contrast to vAC(s) that is a synthetic vRNA promoter with A14' and C13, base-pair disruption at the complementary RNA (cRNA) promoter in cAC(s), which has A13' and C14, not only reduced viral RNA replication in cells but also impaired <i>de novo</i> initiation of unprimed vRNA synthesis. Reverse genetics experiments confirmatively exhibited that this breakage in the cRNA promoter affected the rescue of infectious virus. The present study suggests that the first segment-specific base pair plays an essential role in generating infectious viruses by regulating the promoter activity of cRNA rather than vRNA. It could provide insights into the role of the segment-specific nucleotides in viral genome replication for sustainable infection.
Project description:Replication of the influenza A virus virion RNA (vRNA) requires the synthesis of full-length cRNA, which in turn is used as a template for the synthesis of more vRNA. A "corkscrew" secondary-structure model of the cRNA promoter has been proposed recently. However the data in support of that model were indirect, since they were derived from measurement, by use of a chloramphenicol acetyltransferase (CAT) reporter in 293T cells, of mRNA levels from a modified cRNA promoter rather than the authentic cRNA promoter found in influenza A viruses. Here we measured steady-state cRNA and vRNA levels from a CAT reporter in 293T cells, directly measuring the replication of the authentic influenza A virus wild-type cRNA promoter. We found that (i) base pairing between the 5' and 3' ends and (ii) base pairing in the stems of both the 5' and 3' hairpin loops of the cRNA promoter were required for in vivo replication. Moreover, nucleotides in the tetraloop at positions 4, 5, and 7 and nucleotides forming the 2-9 base pair of the 3' hairpin loop were crucial for promoter activity in vivo. However, the 3' hairpin loop was not required for polymerase binding in vitro. Overall, our results suggest that the corkscrew secondary-structure model is required for authentic cRNA promoter activity in vivo, although the precise role of the 3' hairpin loop remains unknown.
Project description:Influenza viruses encode a viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (FluPol), which is responsible for transcribing and replicating the negative-sense viral RNA (vRNA) genome. FluPol transcribes vRNA using a host-capped mRNA primer and replicates it by synthesizing a positive-sense cRNA intermediate, which is copied back into vRNA. To carry out these functions, FluPol interacts with vRNA and cRNA using conserved promoter elements at the 5' and 3' termini. Recent structural studies have identified a new surface binding site for the 3' vRNA and cRNA promoters on FluPol, referred to as the mode B site. However, the role of this binding site in FluPol function is unknown. In this study, we used a combination of cell-based and biochemical assays to show that the mode B site is important for both viral genome transcription and replication in influenza A virus. Furthermore, we show that the mode B site is not needed for initiating transcription in vitro but is required to synthesize a full-length product. This is consistent with a model in which the 3' terminus of the vRNA template binds in the mode B site during elongation. Our data provide the first functional insights into the role of the mode B site on FluPol, which advances our understanding of FluPol function and influenza virus replication.IMPORTANCE Influenza viruses are responsible for up to 650,000 deaths per year through seasonal epidemics, and pandemics have caused tens of millions of deaths in the past. Most current therapeutics suffer from widespread resistance, creating a need for new drug targets against influenza virus. The virus encodes an RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, which replicates and transcribes the vRNA genome. The polymerase interacts with vRNA and the complementary replicative intermediate cRNA using several specific binding sites; however, the functions associated with these binding sites remain unknown. Here, we functionally characterize a binding site for the 3' vRNA and cRNA promoters. Our data offer insight into the mechanism of viral genome transcription by the influenza virus polymerase and may be applicable to other related viruses.
Project description:The viral RNA (vRNA) genome of influenza viruses is replicated by the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RNAP) via a complementary RNA (cRNA) intermediate. The vRNA promoter can adopt multiple conformations when bound by the RNAP. However, the dynamics, determinants, and biological role of these conformations are unknown; further, little is known about cRNA promoter conformations. To probe the RNA conformations adopted during initial replication, we monitored single, surface-immobilized vRNA and cRNA initiation complexes in real-time. Our results show that, while the 3' terminus of the vRNA promoter exists in dynamic equilibrium between pre-initiation and initiation conformations, the cRNA promoter exhibited very limited dynamics. Two residues in the proximal 3' region of the cRNA promoter (residues absent in the vRNA promoter) allowed the cRNA template strand to reach further into the active site, limiting promoter dynamics. Our results highlight promoter-dependent differences in influenza initiation mechanisms, and advance our understanding of virus replication.
Project description:Influenza polymerase replicates, via a complementary RNA intermediate (cRNA), and transcribes the eight viral RNA (vRNA) genome segments. To initiate RNA synthesis it is bound to the conserved 5? and 3? extremities of the vRNA or cRNA (the 'promoter'). 5?-3? base-pairing in the distal promoter region is essential to position the template RNA at the polymerase active site, as shown by a new crystal structure with the 3? end threading through the template entry tunnel. We develop fluorescence polarization assays to quantify initiation of cap-primed (transcription) or unprimed (replication) RNA synthesis by recombinant influenza B polymerase bound to the vRNA or cRNA promoter. The rate-limiting step is formation of a primed initiation complex with minimally ApG required to stabilize the 3? end of the template within the active-site. Polymerase bound to the vRNA promoter initiates RNA synthesis terminally, while the cRNA promoter directs internal initiation at a significantly lower rate. Progression to elongation requires breaking the promoter 5?-3? base-pairing region and favourable compensation by the emerging template-product base-pairs. The RNA synthesis assay is adaptable to high-throughput screening for polymerase inhibitors. In a pilot study, we find that initiation at the cRNA promoter is unusually susceptible to inhibition by 2?F-2?dNTPs.
Project description:Influenza viruses have a segmented viral RNA (vRNA) genome, which is replicated by the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RNAP). Replication initiates on the vRNA 3' terminus, producing a complementary RNA (cRNA) intermediate, which serves as a template for the synthesis of new vRNA. RNAP structures show the 3' terminus of the vRNA template in a pre-initiation state, bound on the surface of the RNAP rather than in the active site; no information is available on 3' cRNA binding. Here, we have used single-molecule Förster resonance energy transfer (smFRET) to probe the viral RNA conformations that occur during RNAP binding and initial replication. We show that even in the absence of nucleotides, the RNAP-bound 3' termini of both vRNA and cRNA exist in two conformations, corresponding to the pre-initiation state and an initiation conformation in which the 3' terminus of the viral RNA is in the RNAP active site. Nucleotide addition stabilises the 3' vRNA in the active site and results in unwinding of the duplexed region of the promoter. Our data provide insights into the dynamic motions of RNA that occur during initial influenza replication and has implications for our understanding of the replication mechanisms of similar pathogenic viruses.
Project description:Influenza A virus (IAV) is a segmented negative-sense RNA virus and is the cause of major epidemics and pandemics. The replication of IAV is complex, involving the production of three distinct RNA species; mRNA, cRNA, and vRNA for all eight genome segments. While understanding IAV replication kinetics is important for drug development and improving vaccine production, current methods for studying IAV kinetics has been limited by the ability to detect all three different RNA species in a scalable manner. Here we report the development of a novel pipeline using total stranded RNA-Seq, which we named Influenza Virus Enumerator of RNA Transcripts (InVERT), that allows for the simultaneous quantification of all three RNA species produced by IAV. Using InVERT, we provide a full landscape of the IAV replication kinetics and found that different groups of viral genes follow different kinetics. The segments coding for RNA-dependent RNA Polymerase (RdRP) produced more vRNA than mRNA while some other segments (NP, NS, HA) consistently made more mRNA than vRNA. vRNA expression levels did not correlate with cRNA expression, suggesting complex regulation of vRNA synthesis. Furthermore, by studying the kinetics of a virus lacking the capacity to generate new polymerase complexes, we found evidence that further supports the model that cRNA synthesis requires newly synthesized RdRP and that incoming RdRP can only generate mRNA. Overall, InVERT is a powerful tool for quantifying IAV RNA species to elucidate key features of IAV replication.<b>Importance</b>Influenza A virus (IAV) is a respiratory pathogen that has caused significant mortality throughout history and remains a global threat to human health. Although much is known about IAV replication, the regulation of IAV replication dynamics is not completely understood. This is due in part to both technical limitations and the complexity of the virus replication, which has a segmented genome and produces three distinct RNA species for each gene segment. We developed a new approach that allows the methodical study of IAV replication kinetics, shedding light on many interesting features of IAV replication biology. This study advances our understanding of the kinetics of IAV replication and will help to facilitate future research in the field.
Project description:The discovery of regulatory small RNAs continues to reshape paradigms in both molecular biology and virology. Here we describe examples of influenza A virus-derived small viral RNAs (svRNAs). svRNAs are 22-27 nt in length and correspond to the 5' end of each of the viral genomic RNA (vRNA) segments. Expression of svRNA correlates with the accumulation of vRNA and a bias in RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) activity from transcription toward genome replication. Synthesis of svRNA requires the RdRp, nucleoprotein and the nuclear export protein NS2. In addition, svRNA is detectable during replication of various influenza A virus subtypes across multiple host species and associates physically with the RdRp. We demonstrate that depletion of svRNA has a minimal impact on mRNA and complementary vRNA (cRNA) but results in a dramatic loss of vRNA in a segment-specific manner. We propose that svRNA triggers the viral switch from transcription to replication through interactions with the viral polymerase machinery. Taken together, the discovery of svRNA redefines the mechanistic switch of influenza virus transcription/replication and provides a potential target for broad-range, anti-influenza virus-based therapeutics.
Project description:The influenza virus genome forms viral ribonucleoprotein (vRNP) complexes with nucleoprotein and viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerases (RdRp), PB1, PB2, and PA subunits. The vRNP complex catalyzes both genome replication and transcription reactions. PB1 contains the motifs highly conserved among RdRps and functions as a catalytic subunit of RdRp. The N-terminal region of PB1 between amino acid (a.a.) positions 1-83 contains both putative vRNA and cRNA promoter binding sites and a PA binding site. However, except for the PA binding site, the crystal structure and the function of the N-terminal region of PB1 are poorly understood. Here, we have examined the functional structure of the N-terminal region of PB1. The regions between a.a. positions 1-50 are highly conserved between influenza A and B viruses, but amino acids at positions 16, 27, and 44 are different between two viruses. To elucidate the functional importance of these amino acids in replication and transcription of the viral genome, we generated viruses containing mutations at these positions by reverse genetics and examined replication and transcription activities of these mutants. We found that a.a. positions 27 and 44 are responsible for the viral replication activity but not transcription activity.