Flavivirus RNA cap methyltransferase: structure, function, and inhibition.
ABSTRACT: Many flaviviruses are significant human pathogens. The plus-strand RNA genome of a flavivirus contains a 5' terminal cap 1 structure (m(7)GpppAmG). The flavivirus encodes one methyltransferase (MTase), located at the N-terminal portion of the NS5 RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp). Here we review recent advances in our understanding of flaviviral capping machinery and the implications for drug development. The NS5 MTase catalyzes both guanine N7 and ribose 2'-OH methylations during viral cap formation. Representative flavivirus MTases, from dengue, yellow fever, and West Nile virus (WNV), sequentially generate GpppA ? m(7)GpppA ? m(7)GpppAm. Despite the existence of two distinct methylation activities, the crystal structures of flavivirus MTases showed a single binding site for S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM), the methyl donor. This finding indicates that the substrate GpppA-RNA must be repositioned to accept the N7 and 2'-O methyl groups from SAM during the sequential reactions. Further studies demonstrated that distinct RNA elements are required for the methylations of guanine N7 on the cap and of ribose 2'-OH on the first transcribed nucleotide. Mutant enzymes with different methylation defects can trans complement one another in vitro, demonstrating that separate molecules of the enzyme can independently catalyze the two cap methylations in vitro. In the context of the infectious virus, defects in both methylations, or a defect in the N7 methylation alone, are lethal to WNV. However, viruses defective solely in 2'-O methylation are attenuated and can protect mice from later wild-type WNV challenge. The results demonstrate that the N7 methylation activity is essential for the WNV life cycle and, thus, methyltransferase represents a novel and promising target for flavivirus therapy.
Project description:Many flaviviruses are globally important human pathogens. Their plus-strand RNA genome contains a 5'-cap structure that is methylated at the guanine N-7 and the ribose 2'-OH positions of the first transcribed nucleotide, adenine (m(7)GpppAm). Using West Nile virus (WNV), we demonstrate, for the first time, that the nonstructural protein 5 (NS5) mediates both guanine N-7 and ribose 2'-O methylations and therefore is essential for flavivirus 5'-cap formation. We show that a recombinant full-length and a truncated NS5 protein containing the methyltransferase (MTase) domain methylates GpppA-capped and m(7)GpppA-capped RNAs to m(7)GpppAm-RNA, using S-adenosylmethionine as a methyl donor. Furthermore, methylation of GpppA-capped RNA sequentially yielded m(7)GpppA- and m(7)GpppAm-RNA products, indicating that guanine N-7 precedes ribose 2'-O methylation. Mutagenesis of a K(61)-D(146)-K(182)-E(218) tetrad conserved in other cellular and viral MTases suggests that NS5 requires distinct amino acids for its N-7 and 2'-O MTase activities. The entire K(61)-D(146)-K(182)-E(218) motif is essential for 2'-O MTase activity, whereas N-7 MTase activity requires only D(146). The other three amino acids facilitate, but are not essential for, guanine N-7 methylation. Amino acid substitutions within the K(61)-D(146)-K(182)-E(218) motif in a WNV luciferase-reporting replicon significantly reduced or abolished viral replication in cells. Additionally, the mutant MTase-mediated replication defect could not be trans complemented by a wild-type replicase complex. These findings demonstrate a critical role for the flavivirus MTase in viral reproduction and underscore this domain as a potential target for antiviral therapy.
Project description:The N-terminal domain of the flavivirus NS5 protein functions as a methyltransferase (MTase). It sequentially methylates the N7 and 2'-O positions of the viral RNA cap structure (GpppA?(7me)GpppA?(7me)GpppA(2'-O-me)). The same NS5 domain could also have a guanylyltransferase activity (GTP+ppA-RNA?GpppA). The mechanism by which this protein domain catalyzes these three distinct functions is currently unknown. Here we report the crystallographic structure of DENV-3 MTase in complex with a 5'-capped RNA octamer (G(ppp)AGAACCUG) at a resolution of 2.9 A. Two RNA octamers arranged as kissing loops are encircled by four MTase monomers around a 2-fold non-crystallography symmetry axis. Only two of the four monomers make direct contact with the 5' end of RNA. The RNA structure is stabilised by the formation of several intra and intermolecular base stacking and non-canonical base pairs. The structure may represent the product of guanylylation of the viral genome prior to the subsequent methylation events that require repositioning of the RNA substrate to reach to the methyl-donor sites. The crystal structure provides a structural explanation for the observed trans-complementation of MTases with different methylation defects.
Project description:The flavivirus methyltransferase (MTase) sequentially methylates the N7 and 2'-O positions of the viral RNA cap (GpppA-RNA ? m(7)GpppA-RNA ? m(7)GpppAm-RNA), using S-adenosyl-l-methionine (AdoMet) as a methyl donor. We report here that sinefungin (SIN), an AdoMet analog, inhibits several flaviviruses through suppression of viral MTase. The crystal structure of West Nile virus MTase in complex with SIN inhibitor at 2.0-Å resolution revealed a flavivirus-conserved hydrophobic pocket located next to the AdoMet-binding site. The pocket is functionally critical in the viral replication and cap methylations. In addition, the N7 methylation efficiency was found to correlate with the viral replication ability. Thus, SIN analogs with modifications that interact with the hydrophobic pocket are potential specific inhibitors of flavivirus MTase.
Project description:The 5' end of the flavivirus plus-sense RNA genome contains a type 1 cap (m(7)GpppAmG), followed by a conserved stem-loop structure. We report that nonstructural protein 5 (NS5) from four serocomplexes of flaviviruses specifically methylates the cap through recognition of the 5' terminus of viral RNA. Distinct RNA elements are required for the methylations at guanine N-7 on the cap and ribose 2'-OH on the first transcribed nucleotide. In a West Nile virus (WNV) model, N-7 cap methylation requires specific nucleotides at the second and third positions and a 5' stem-loop structure; in contrast, 2'-OH ribose methylation requires specific nucleotides at the first and second positions, with a minimum 5' viral RNA of 20 nucleotides. The cap analogues GpppA and m(7)GpppA are not active substrates for WNV methytransferase. Footprinting experiments using Gppp- and m(7)Gppp-terminated RNAs suggest that the 5' termini of RNA substrates interact with NS5 during the sequential methylation reactions. Cap methylations could be inhibited by an antisense oligomer targeting the first 20 nucleotides of WNV genome. The viral RNA-specific cap methylation suggests methyltransferase as a novel target for flavivirus drug discovery.
Project description:The plus-strand RNA genome of flavivirus contains a 5' terminal cap 1 structure (m7GpppAmG). The flaviviruses encode one methyltransferase, located at the N-terminal portion of the NS5 protein, to catalyze both guanine N-7 and ribose 2'-OH methylations during viral cap formation. Representative flavivirus methyltransferases from dengue, yellow fever, and West Nile virus (WNV) sequentially generate GpppA-->m7GpppA-->m7GpppAm. The 2'-O methylation can be uncoupled from the N-7 methylation, since m7GpppA-RNA can be readily methylated to m7GpppAm-RNA. Despite exhibiting two distinct methylation activities, the crystal structure of WNV methyltransferase at 2.8 A resolution showed a single binding site for S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM), the methyl donor. Therefore, substrate GpppA-RNA should be repositioned to accept the N-7 and 2'-O methyl groups from SAM during the sequential reactions. Electrostatic analysis of the WNV methyltransferase structure showed that, adjacent to the SAM-binding pocket, is a highly positively charged surface that could serve as an RNA binding site during cap methylations. Biochemical and mutagenesis analyses show that the N-7 and 2'-O cap methylations require distinct buffer conditions and different side chains within the K61-D146-K182-E218 motif, suggesting that the two reactions use different mechanisms. In the context of complete virus, defects in both methylations are lethal to WNV; however, viruses defective solely in 2'-O methylation are attenuated and can protect mice from later wild-type WNV challenge. The results demonstrate that the N-7 methylation activity is essential for the WNV life cycle and, thus, methyltransferase represents a novel target for flavivirus therapy.
Project description:Many flaviviruses are significant human pathogens. No effective antiviral therapy is currently available for treatment of flavivirus infections. Development of antiviral treatment against these viruses is urgently needed. The flavivirus methyltransferase (MTase) responsible for N-7 and 2'-O methylation of the viral RNA cap has recently been mapped to the N-terminal region of nonstructural protein 5. Structural and functional studies suggest that the MTase represents a novel antiviral target. Here we review current understanding of flavivirus RNA cap methylation and its implications for development of antivirals. The 5' end of the flavivirus plus-strand RNA genome contains a type 1 cap structure (m(7)GpppAmG). Flaviviruses encode a single MTase domain that catalyzes two sequential methylations of the viral RNA cap, GpppA-RNA-->m(7)GpppA-RNA-->m(7)GpppAm-RNA, using S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM) as the methyl donor. The two reactions require different viral RNA elements and distinct biochemical assay conditions. Despite exhibiting two distinct methylation activities, flavivirus MTase contains a single binding site for SAM in its crystal structure. Therefore, substrate GpppA-RNA must be re-positioned to accept the N-7 and 2'-O methyl groups from SAM during the two methylation reactions. Structure-guided mutagenesis studies indeed revealed two distinct sets of amino acids on the enzyme surface that are specifically required for N-7 and 2'-O methylation. In the context of virus, West Nile viruses (WNVs) defective in N-7 methylation are non-replicative; however, WNVs defective in 2'-O methylation are attenuated and can protect mice from subsequent wild-type WNV challenge. Collectively, the results demonstrate that the N-7 MTase represents a novel target for flavivirus therapy.
Project description:Flaviviruses encode a single methyltransferase domain that sequentially catalyzes two methylations of the viral RNA cap, GpppA-RNA-->m(7)GpppA-RNA-->m(7)GpppAm-RNA, by using S-adenosyl-l-methionine (SAM) as a methyl donor. Crystal structures of flavivirus methyltransferases exhibit distinct binding sites for SAM, GTP, and RNA molecules. Biochemical analysis of West Nile virus methyltransferase shows that the single SAM-binding site donates methyl groups to both N7 and 2'-O positions of the viral RNA cap, the GTP-binding pocket functions only during the 2'-O methylation, and two distinct sets of amino acids in the RNA-binding site are required for the N7 and 2'-O methylations. These results demonstrate that flavivirus methyltransferase catalyzes two cap methylations through a substrate-repositioning mechanism. In this mechanism, guanine N7 of substrate GpppA-RNA is first positioned to SAM to generate m(7)GpppA-RNA, after which the m(7)G moiety is repositioned to the GTP-binding pocket to register the 2'-OH of the adenosine with SAM, generating m(7)GpppAm-RNA. Because N7 cap methylation is essential for viral replication, inhibitors designed to block the pocket identified for the N7 cap methylation could be developed for flavivirus therapy.
Project description:Flavivirus methyltransferase catalyzes both guanine N7 and ribose 2'-OH methylations of the viral RNA cap (GpppA-RNA-->m(7)GpppAm-RNA). The methyltransferase is physically linked to an RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) in the flaviviral NS5 protein. Here, we report genetic interactions of West Nile virus (WNV) methyltransferase with the RdRp and the 5'-terminal stem-loop of viral genomic RNA. Genome-length RNAs, containing amino acid substitutions of D146 (a residue essential for both cap methylations) in the methyltransferase, were transfected into BHK-21 cells. Among the four mutant RNAs (D146L, D146P, D146R, and D146S), only D146S RNA generated viruses in transfected cells. Sequencing of the recovered viruses revealed that, besides the D146S change in the methyltransferase, two classes of compensatory mutations had reproducibly emerged. Class 1 mutations were located in the 5'-terminal stem-loop of the genomic RNA (a G35U substitution or U38 insertion). Class 2 mutations resided in NS5 (K61Q in methyltransferase and W751R in RdRp). Mutagenesis analysis, using a genome-length RNA and a replicon of WNV, demonstrated that the D146S substitution alone was lethal for viral replication; however, the compensatory mutations rescued replication, with the highest rescuing efficiency occurring when both classes of mutations were present. Biochemical analysis showed that a low level of N7 methylation of the D146S methyltransferase is essential for the recovery of adaptive viruses. The methyltransferase K61Q mutation facilitates viral replication through improved N7 methylation activity. The RdRp W751R mutation improves viral replication through an enhanced polymerase activity. Our results have clearly established genetic interactions among flaviviral methyltransferase, RdRp, and the 5' stem-loop of the genomic RNA.
Project description:Mononegaviruses, such as Ebola virus, encode an L (large) protein that bears all the catalytic activities for replication/transcription and RNA capping. The C-terminal conserved region VI (CRVI) of L protein contains a K-D-K-E catalytic tetrad typical for 2'O methyltransferases (MTase). In mononegaviruses, cap-MTase activities have been involved in the 2'O methylation and N7 methylation of the RNA cap structure. These activities play a critical role in the viral life cycle as N7 methylation ensures efficient viral mRNA translation and 2'O methylation hampers the detection of viral RNA by the host innate immunity. The functional characterization of the MTase+CTD domain of Sudan ebolavirus (SUDV) revealed cap-independent methyltransferase activities targeting internal adenosine residues. Besides this, the MTase+CTD also methylates, the N7 position of the cap guanosine and the 2'O position of the n1 guanosine provided that the RNA is sufficiently long. Altogether, these results suggest that the filovirus MTases evolved towards a dual activity with distinct substrate specificities. Whereas it has been well established that cap-dependent methylations promote protein translation and help to mimic host RNA, the characterization of an original cap-independent methylation opens new research opportunities to elucidate the role of RNA internal methylations in the viral replication.
Project description:SARS-coronavirus (SARS-CoV) genome expression depends on the synthesis of a set of mRNAs, which presumably are capped at their 5' end and direct the synthesis of all viral proteins in the infected cell. Sixteen viral non-structural proteins (nsp1 to nsp16) constitute an unusually large replicase complex, which includes two methyltransferases putatively involved in viral mRNA cap formation. The S-adenosyl-L-methionine (AdoMet)-dependent (guanine-N7)-methyltransferase (N7-MTase) activity was recently attributed to nsp14, whereas nsp16 has been predicted to be the AdoMet-dependent (nucleoside-2'O)-methyltransferase. Here, we have reconstituted complete SARS-CoV mRNA cap methylation in vitro. We show that mRNA cap methylation requires a third viral protein, nsp10, which acts as an essential trigger to complete RNA cap-1 formation. The obligate sequence of methylation events is initiated by nsp14, which first methylates capped RNA transcripts to generate cap-0 (7Me)GpppA-RNAs. The latter are then selectively 2'O-methylated by the 2'O-MTase nsp16 in complex with its activator nsp10 to give rise to cap-1 (7Me)GpppA(2'OMe)-RNAs. Furthermore, sensitive in vitro inhibition assays of both activities show that aurintricarboxylic acid, active in SARS-CoV infected cells, targets both MTases with IC(50) values in the micromolar range, providing a validated basis for anti-coronavirus drug design.