Conserved features of the PB2 627 domain impact influenza virus polymerase function and replication.
ABSTRACT: Successful replication of influenza virus requires the coordinated expression of viral genes and replication of the genome by the viral polymerase, composed of the subunits PA, PB1, and PB2. Polymerase activity is regulated by both viral and host factors, yet the mechanisms of regulation and how they contribute to viral pathogenicity and tropism are poorly understood. To characterize these processes, we created a series of mutants in the 627 domain of the PB2 subunit. This domain contains a conserved "P[F/P]AAAPP" sequence motif and the well-described amino acid 627, whose identity regulates host range. A lysine present at position 627 in most mammalian viral isolates creates a basic face on the domain surface and confers high-level activity in humans compared to the glutamic acid found at this position in avian isolates. Mutation of the basic face or the P[F/P]AAAPP motif impaired polymerase activity, assembly of replication complexes, and viral replication. Most of these residues are required for general polymerase activity, whereas PB2 K586 and R589 were preferentially required for function in human versus avian cells. Thus, these data identify residues in the 627 domain and other viral proteins that regulate polymerase activity, highlighting the importance of the surface charge and structure of this domain for virus replication and host adaptation.Influenza virus faces barriers to transmission across species as it emerges from its natural reservoir in birds to infect mammals. The viral polymerase is an important regulator of this process and undergoes discrete changes to adapt to replication in mammals. Many of these changes occur in the polymerase subunit PB2. Here we describe the systematic analysis of a key region in PB2 that controls species-specific polymerase activity. We report the importance of conserved residues that contribute to the overall charge of the protein as well as those that likely affect protein structure. These findings provide further insight into the molecular events dictating species-specific polymerase function and viral replication.
Project description:The RNA genome of influenza A viruses is transcribed and replicated by the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, composed of the subunits PA, PB1, and PB2. High-resolution structural data revealed that the polymerase assembles into a central polymerase core and several auxiliary highly flexible, protruding domains. The auxiliary PB2 cap-binding and the PA endonuclease domains are both involved in cap snatching, but the role of the auxiliary PB2 627 domain, implicated in host range restriction of influenza A viruses, is still poorly understood. In this study, we used structure-guided truncations of the PB2 subunit to show that a PB2 subunit lacking the 627 domain accumulates in the cell nucleus and assembles into a heterotrimeric polymerase with PB1 and PA. Furthermore, we showed that a recombinant viral polymerase lacking the PB2 627 domain is able to carry out cap snatching, cap-dependent transcription initiation, and cap-independent ApG dinucleotide extension in vitro, indicating that the PB2 627 domain of the influenza virus RNA polymerase is not involved in core catalytic functions of the polymerase. However, in a cellular context, the 627 domain is essential for both transcription and replication. In particular, we showed that the PB2 627 domain is essential for the accumulation of the cRNA replicative intermediate in infected cells. Together, these results further our understanding of the role of the PB2 627 domain in transcription and replication of the influenza virus RNA genome.IMPORTANCE Influenza A viruses are a major global health threat, not only causing disease in both humans and birds but also placing significant strains on economies worldwide. Avian influenza A virus polymerases typically do not function efficiently in mammalian hosts and require adaptive mutations to restore polymerase activity. These adaptations include mutations in the 627 domain of the PB2 subunit of the viral polymerase, but it still remains to be established how these mutations enable host adaptation on a molecular level. In this report, we characterize the role of the 627 domain in polymerase function and offer insights into the replication mechanism of influenza A viruses.
Project description:Avian influenza A viruses often do not propagate efficiently in mammalian cells. The viral polymerase protein PB2 is important for this host restriction, with amino-acid polymorphisms at residue 627 and other positions acting as 'signatures' of avian- or human-adapted viruses. Restriction is hypothesized to result from differential interactions (either positive or inhibitory) with unidentified cellular factors. We applied fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) to investigate the mobility of the viral polymerase in the cell nucleus using A/PR/8/34 and A/Turkey/England/50-92/91 as model strains. As expected, transcriptional activity of a polymerase with the avian PB2 protein was strongly dependent on the identity of residue 627 in human but not avian cells, and this correlated with significantly slower diffusion of the inactive polymerase in human but not avian nuclei. In contrast, the activity and mobility of the PR8 polymerase was affected much less by residue 627. Sequence comparison followed by mutagenic analyses identified residues at known host-range-specific positions 271, 588 and 701 as well as a novel determinant at position 636 as contributors to host-specific activity of both PR8 and Turkey PB2 proteins. Furthermore, the correlation between poor transcriptional activity and slow diffusional mobility was maintained. However, activity did not obligatorily correlate with predicted surface charge of the 627 domain. Overall, our data support the hypothesis of a host nuclear factor that interacts with the viral polymerase and modulates its activity. While we cannot distinguish between positive and inhibitory effects, the data have implications for how such factors might operate.
Project description:Understanding how avian influenza viruses adapt to human hosts is critical for the monitoring and prevention of future pandemics. Host specificity is determined by multiple sites in different viral proteins, and mutation of only a limited number of these sites can lead to inter-species transmission. Several of these sites have been identified in the viral polymerase, the best characterised being position 627 in the PB2 subunit. Efficient viral replication at the relatively low temperature of the human respiratory tract requires lysine 627 rather than the glutamic acid variant found systematically in avian viruses. However, the molecular mechanism by which any of these host specific sites determine host range are unknown, although adaptation to host factors is frequently evoked. We used ESPRIT, a library screening method, to identify a new PB2 domain that contains a high density of putative host specific sites, including residue 627. The X-ray structure of this domain (denoted the 627-domain) exhibits a novel fold with the side-chain of Lys627 solvent exposed. The structure of the K627E mutated domain shows no structural differences but the charge reversal disrupts a striking basic patch on the domain surface. Five other recently proposed host determining sites of PB2 are also located on the 627-domain surface. The structure of the complete C-terminal region of PB2 comprising the 627-domain and the previously identified NLS-domain, which binds the host nuclear import factor importin alpha, was also determined. The two domains are found to pack together with a largely hydrophilic interface. These data enable a three-dimensional mapping of approximately half of PB2 sites implicated in cross-species transfer onto a single structural unit. Their surface location is consistent with roles in interactions with other viral proteins or host factors. The identification and structural characterization of these well-defined PB2 domains will help design experiments to elucidate the effects of mutations on polymerase-host factor interactions.
Project description:Avian influenza polymerase undergoes host adaptation in order to efficiently replicate in human cells. Adaptive mutants are localised on the C-terminal (627-NLS) domains of the PB2 subunit. In particular, mutation of PB2 residue 627 from E to K rescues polymerase activity in mammalian cells. A host transcription regulator ANP32A, comprising a long C-terminal intrinsically disordered domain (IDD), is responsible for this adaptation. Human ANP32A IDD lacks a 33 residue insertion compared to avian ANP32A, and this deletion restricts avian influenza polymerase activity. We used NMR to determine conformational ensembles of E627 and K627 forms of 627-NLS of PB2 in complex with avian and human ANP32A. Human ANP32A IDD transiently binds to the 627 domain, exploiting multivalency to maximise affinity. E627 interrupts the polyvalency of the interaction, an effect compensated by an avian-unique motif in the IDD. The observed binding mode is maintained in the context of heterotrimeric influenza polymerase, placing ANP32A in the immediate vicinity of known host-adaptive PB2 mutants.
Project description:In the adaptation of avian viruses to mammalian hosts, mutations in the viral polymerase, notably in the PB2 subunit, play an important role. A PB2 C-terminal domain rich in putative host adaptation residues has been shown to bind importin α nuclear import receptors. Adaptation has been proposed to involve binding of PB2 to importins of the new host. To date PB2-importin complexes have been characterized semiquantitatively with no precise measurement of binding parameters. To investigate the effects of adaptive mutations on importin interaction and selectivity, surface plasmon resonance was used to compare the binding rate constants and affinities of avian H5N1 and human H3N2 PB2 C-terminal variants with importin isoforms human α 1, 3, 5 and 7, and avian α 1. Using purified proteins eliminates host environment effects and permits measurement of intrinsic affinities and rates of complex formation and dissociation. Two effects were observed: first, adaptive mutations D701N, R702K, and S714R in the nuclear localization signal domain increased 2-4-fold the association rates with avian and human importins; second, measurement of different structural forms of the PB2 C terminus demonstrated that the upstream 627 domain reduced binding affinity, consistent with a steric clash predicted from crystal structures. From these kinetic data, structural analyses, and the data of others, a model is proposed in which an increase in charged surface residues during host adaptation increases the association rate of PB2 to cytoplasmic importins and where the C-terminal 627-nuclear localization signal domain may reorganize upon importin binding, consistent with a role in active polymerase assembly.
Project description:Sequence analyses of influenza PB2 sequences indicate that the 627 position almost exclusively contains either lysine (K) or glutamic acid (E), suggesting a high sequence constraint at this genetic marker. Here, we used a site-directed random mutagenesis method to demonstrate that PB2-627 position has a high sequence plasticity. Recombinant viruses carrying various amino acid residues at this position are viable in cell cultures. These PB2-627 mutants showed various polymerase activities and replication kinetics in mammalian and avian cells as well as pathogenicity in mice. Serially passaging these mutants in MDCK cells generated some compensatory PB2 mutations that can restore polymerase activities of the PB2-627 mutants. Of these, PB2-D309N was identified as a novel one. Besides showing that influenza virus can tolerate a wide range of amino acid residues at the PB2-627 position, this study also demonstrates a potential strategy to identify novel mutations that can enhance viral polymerase.
Project description:A major determinant in the change of the avian influenza virus host range to humans is the E627K substitution in the PB2 polymerase protein. However, the polymerase activity of avian influenza viruses with a single PB2-E627K mutation is still lower than that of seasonal human influenza viruses, implying that avian viruses require polymerase mutations in addition to PB2-627K for human adaptation. Here, we used a database search of H5N1 clade 2.2.1 virus sequences with the PB2-627K mutation to identify other polymerase adaptation mutations that have been selected in infected patients. Several of the mutations identified acted cooperatively with PB2-627K to increase viral growth in human airway epithelial cells and mouse lungs. These mutations were in multiple domains of the polymerase complex other than the PB2-627 domain, highlighting a complicated avian-to-human adaptation pathway of avian influenza viruses. Thus, H5N1 viruses could rapidly acquire multiple polymerase mutations that function cooperatively with PB2-627K in infected patients for optimal human adaptation.
Project description:Human infections with avian influenza H7N9 or H10N8 viruses have been reported in China, raising concerns that they might cause human epidemics and pandemics. However, how these viruses adapt to mammalian hosts is unclear. Here we show that besides the commonly recognized viral polymerase subunit PB2 residue 627?K, other residues including 87E, 292?V, 340?K, 588?V, 648?V, and 676?M in PB2 also play critical roles in mammalian adaptation of the H10N8 virus. The avian-origin H10N8, H7N9, and H9N2 viruses harboring PB2-588?V exhibited higher polymerase activity, more efficient replication in mammalian and avian cells, and higher virulence in mice when compared to viruses with PB2-588?A. Analyses of available PB2 sequences showed that the proportion of avian H9N2 or human H7N9 influenza isolates bearing PB2-588?V has increased significantly since 2013. Taken together, our results suggest that the substitution PB2-A588V may be a new strategy for an avian influenza virus to adapt mammalian hosts.
Project description:The ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complex is the essential transcription-replication machinery of the influenza virus. It is composed of the trimeric polymerase (PA, PB1 and PB2), nucleoprotein (NP) and RNA. Elucidating the molecular mechanisms of RNP assembly is central to our understanding of the control of viral transcription and replication and the dependence of these processes on the host cell. In this report, we show, by RNP reconstitution assays and co-immunoprecipitation, that the interaction between NP and polymerase is crucial for the function of the RNP. The functional association of NP and polymerase involves the C-terminal '627' domain of PB2 and it requires NP arginine-150 and either lysine-627 or arginine-630 of PB2. Using surface plasmon resonance, we demonstrate that the interaction between NP and PB2 takes place without the involvement of RNA. At 33, 37 and 41°C in mammalian cells, more positive charges at aa. 627 and 630 of PB2 lead to stronger NP-polymerase interaction, which directly correlates with the higher RNP activity. In conclusion, our study provides new information on the NP-PB2 interaction and shows that the strength of NP-polymerase interaction and the resulting RNP activity are promoted by the positive charges at aa. 627 and 630 of PB2.
Project description:Because the influenza A virus has an RNA genome, its RNA-dependent RNA polymerase, comprising the PA, PB1, and PB2 subunits, is essential for viral transcription and replication. The binding of RNA primers/promoters to the polymerases is an initiation step in viral transcription. In our current study, we reveal the 2.7 A tertiary structure of the C-terminal RNA-binding domain of PB2 by x-ray crystallography. This domain incorporates lysine 627 of PB2, and this residue is associated with the high pathogenicity and host range restriction of influenza A virus. We found from our current analyses that this lysine is located in a unique "phi"-shaped structure consisting of a helix and an encircled loop within the PB2 domain. By electrostatic analysis, we identified a highly basic groove along with this phi loop and found that lysine 627 is located in the phi loop. A PB2 domain mutant in which glutamic acid is substituted at position 627 shows significantly lower RNA binding activity. This is the first report to show a relationship between RNA binding activity and the pathogenicity-determinant lysine 627. Using the Matras program for protein three-dimensional structural comparisons, we further found that the helix bundles in the PB2 domain are similar to that of activator 1, the 40-kDa subunit of DNA replication clamp loader (replication factor C), which is also an RNA-binding protein. This suggests a functional and structural relationship between the RNA-binding mechanisms underlying both influenza A viral transcription and cellular DNA replication. Our present results thus provide important new information for developing novel drugs that target the primer/promoter RNA binding of viral RNA polymerases.