Asymmetric packaging of polymerases within vesicular stomatitis virus.
ABSTRACT: Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is a prototypic negative sense single-stranded RNA virus. The bullet-shape appearance of the virion results from tightly wound helical turns of the nucleoprotein encapsidated RNA template (N-RNA) around a central cavity. Transcription and replication require polymerase complexes, which include a catalytic subunit L and a template-binding subunit P. L and P are inferred to be in the cavity, however lacking direct observation, their exact position has remained unclear. Using super-resolution fluorescence imaging and atomic force microscopy (AFM) on single VSV virions, we show that L and P are packaged asymmetrically towards the blunt end of the virus. The number of L and P proteins varies between individual virions and they occupy 57 ± 12 nm of the 150 nm central cavity of the virus. Our finding positions the polymerases at the opposite end of the genome with respect to the only transcriptional promoter.
Project description:Microbial pathogens exploit the clathrin endocytic machinery to enter host cells. Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), an enveloped virus with bullet-shaped virions that measure 70 x 200 nm, enters cells by clathrin-dependent endocytosis. We showed previously that VSV particles exceed the capacity of typical clathrin-coated vesicles and instead enter through endocytic carriers that acquire a partial clathrin coat and require local actin filament assembly to complete vesicle budding and internalization. To understand why the actin system is required for VSV uptake, we compared the internalization mechanisms of VSV and its shorter (75 nm long) defective interfering particle, DI-T. By imaging the uptake of individual particles into live cells, we found that, as with parental virions, DI-T enters via the clathrin endocytic pathway. Unlike VSV, DI-T internalization occurs through complete clathrin-coated vesicles and does not require actin polymerization. Since VSV and DI-T particles display similar surface densities of the same attachment glycoprotein, we conclude that the physical properties of the particle dictate whether a virus-containing clathrin pit engages the actin system. We suggest that the elongated shape of a VSV particle prevents full enclosure by the clathrin coat and that stalling of coat assembly triggers recruitment of the actin machinery to finish the internalization process. Since some enveloped viruses have pleomorphic particle shapes and sizes, our work suggests that they may use altered modes of endocytic uptake. More generally, our findings show the importance of cargo geometry for specifying cellular entry modes, even when the receptor recognition properties of a ligand are maintained.
Project description:Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) genomic RNA encapsidated by the nucleocapsid (N) protein is the template for transcription and replication by the viral polymerase. We analyzed the 2.9-A structure of the VSV N protein bound to RNA (T. J. Green, X. Zhang, G. W. Wertz, and M. Luo, Science 313:357-360, 2006) and identified amino acid residues with the potential to interact with RNA via hydrogen bonds. The contributions of these interactions to N protein function were investigated by individually substituting the residues with alanine and assaying the effect of these mutations on N protein expression, on the ability of the N protein to interact with the phosphoprotein (P), and on its ability to encapsidate RNA and generate templates that can support transcription and RNA replication. These studies identified individual amino acids critical for N protein function. Nine nucleotides are associated with each N monomer and contorted into two quasi-helices within the N protein RNA binding cavity. We found that N protein residues that formed hydrogen bond contacts with the nucleotides in quasi-helix 2 were critical to the encapsidation of RNA and the production of templates that can support RNA synthesis. Individual hydrogen bond interactions between the N protein and the nucleotides of quasi-helix 1 were not essential for ribonucleoprotein (RNP) template function. Residue R143 forms a hydrogen bond with nucleotide 9, the nucleotide that extends between N monomers. R143A mutant N protein failed to encapsidate RNA and to support RNA synthesis and suppressed wild-type N protein function. These studies show a direct correlation between viral RNA synthesis and N protein residues structurally positioned to interact with RNA.
Project description:Members of the Paramyxoviridae such as measles, mumps, and parainfluenza viruses have pleomorphic, enveloped virions that contain negative-sense unsegmented RNA genomes. This is encapsidated by multiple copies of a viral nucleocapsid protein N to form a helical ribonucleoprotein complex (termed the nucleocapsid), which acts as the template for both transcription and replication. Structure analysis of these viruses has proven challenging, owing to disordered regions in important constituent proteins, conformational flexibility in the nucleocapsid and the pleomorphic nature of virus particles. We conducted a low-resolution ultrastructural analysis of Sendai virus, a prototype paramyxovirus, using cryo-electron tomography. Virions are highly variable in size, ranging approximately from 110 to 540 nm in diameter. Envelope glycoproteins are densely packed on the virion surface, while nucleocapsids are clearly resolved in the virion interior. Subtomogram segmentation and filament tracing allowed us to define the path of many nucleocapsids and in some cases to determine the number of putative genomes within a single virus particle. Our findings indicate that these viruses may contain between one and six copies of their genome per virion and that there is no discernible order to nucleocapsid packaging.
Project description:Rhabdovirus is a negative strand RNA virus that packages a ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complex. The RNP is composed of a genome that is encapsidated completely by the nucleoprotein (N). Structural comparisons of the RNA-nucleoprotein complexes from two members, vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) and rabies virus (RABV), revealed highly conserved characteristics of folding, RNA binding, and assembly despite their lack of significant homology in amino acid sequence. The RNA binding cavity is located between two conserved domains formed by alpha-helices, but the positively charged residues that coordinate with the phosphate groups are at different sites. The intermolecular interactions among N molecules have a conserved pattern that is rendered, however, by different residues. The curvature of the RABV N-RNA complex in the crystal structure is larger than that of the VSV N-RNA complex. The more relaxed curvature allows the bases in the RNA to stack more tightly, and at the same time, the helices near the C-terminus move into the created space in order to cover the bound RNA. This may explain how the RNP can adopt different conformations from being packed as a superhelix in the virion to a relaxed linear structure once being delivered into the cytoplasm.
Project description:Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) assembly requires condensation of the viral ribonucleoprotein (RNP) core with the matrix protein (M) during budding from the plasma membrane. The RNP core comprises the negative-sense genomic RNA completely coated by the nucleocapsid protein (N) and associated by a phosphoprotein (P) with the large polymerase protein (L). To study the assembly of single viral particles, we tagged M and P with fluorescent proteins. We selected from a library of viruses with insertions in the M gene a replication-competent virus containing a fluorescent M and combined that with our previously described virus containing fluorescent P. Virus particles containing those fusions maintained the same bullet shape appearance as wild-type VSV but had a modest increase in particle length, reflecting the increased genome size. Imaging of the released particles revealed a variation in the amount of M and P assembled into the virions, consistent with a flexible packaging mechanism. We used the recombinants to further study the importance of the late domains in M, which serve to recruit the endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) machinery during budding. Mutations in late domains resulted in the accumulation of virions that failed to pinch off from the plasma membrane. Imaging of single virions released from cells that were coinfected with M tagged with enhanced green fluorescent protein and M tagged with mCherry variants in which the late domains of one virus were inactivated by mutation showed a strong bias against the incorporation of the late-domain mutant into the released virions. In contrast, the intracellular expression and membrane association of the two variants were unaltered. These studies provide new tools for imaging particle assembly and enhance our resolution of existing models for assembly of VSV.Assembly of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) particles requires the separate trafficking of the viral replication machinery, a matrix protein (M) and a glycoprotein, to the plasma membrane. The matrix protein contains a motif termed a "late domain" that engages the host endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) machinery to facilitate the release of viral particles. Inactivation of the late domains through mutation results in the accumulation of virions arrested at the point of release. In the study described here, we developed new tools to study VSV assembly by fusing fluorescent proteins to M and to a constituent of the replication machinery, the phosphoprotein (P). We used those tools to show that the late domains of M are required for efficient incorporation into viral particles and that the particles contain a variable quantity of M and P.
Project description:The four brome mosaic virus (BMV) RNAs (RNA1 to RNA4) are encapsidated in three distinct virions that have different disassembly rates in infection. The mechanism for the differential release of BMV RNAs from virions is unknown, since 180 copies of the same coat protein (CP) encapsidate each of the BMV genomic RNAs. Using mass spectrometry, we found that the BMV CP contains a complex pattern of posttranslational modifications. Treatment with phosphatase was found to not significantly affect the stability of the virions containing RNA1 but significantly impacted the stability of the virions that encapsidated BMV RNA2 and RNA3/4. Cryo-electron microscopy reconstruction revealed dramatic structural changes in the capsid and the encapsidated RNA. A phosphomimetic mutation in the flexible N-terminal arm of the CP increased BMV RNA replication and virion production. The degree of phosphorylation modulated the interaction of CP with the encapsidated RNA and the release of three of the BMV RNAs. UV cross-linking and immunoprecipitation methods coupled to high-throughput sequencing experiments showed that phosphorylation of the BMV CP can impact binding to RNAs in the virions, including sequences that contain regulatory motifs for BMV RNA gene expression and replication. Phosphatase-treated virions affected the timing of CP expression and viral RNA replication in plants. The degree of phosphorylation decreased when the plant hosts were grown at an elevated temperature. These results show that phosphorylation of the capsid modulates BMV infection.How icosahedral viruses regulate the release of viral RNA into the host is not well understood. The selective release of viral RNA can regulate the timing of replication and gene expression. Brome mosaic virus (BMV) is an RNA virus, and its three genomic RNAs are encapsidated in separate virions. Through proteomic, structural, and biochemical analyses, this work shows that posttranslational modifications, specifically, phosphorylation, on the capsid protein regulate the capsid-RNA interaction and the stability of the virions and affect viral gene expression. Mutational analysis confirmed that changes in modification affected virion stability and the timing of viral infection. The mechanism for modification of the virion has striking parallels to the mechanism of regulation of chromatin packaging by nucleosomes.
Project description:Next-generation sequence analysis of virus-like particles (VLPs) produced during agroinfiltration of cucumber necrosis virus (CNV) coat protein (CP) and of authentic CNV virions was conducted to assess if host RNAs can be encapsidated by CNV CP. VLPs containing host RNAs were found to be produced during agroinfiltration, accumulating to approximately 1/60 the level that CNV virions accumulated during infection. VLPs contained a variety of host RNA species, including the major rRNAs as well as cytoplasmic, chloroplast, and mitochondrial mRNAs. The most predominant host RNA species encapsidated in VLPs were chloroplast encoded, consistent with the efficient targeting of CNV CP to chloroplasts during agroinfiltration. Interestingly, droplet digital PCR analysis showed that the CNV CP mRNA expressed during agroinfiltration was the most efficiently encapsidated mRNA, suggesting that the CNV CP open reading frame may contain a high-affinity site or sites for CP binding and thus contribute to the specificity of CNV RNA encapsidation. Approximately 0.09% to 0.7% of the RNA derived from authentic CNV virions contained host RNA, with chloroplast RNA again being the most prominent species. This is consistent with our previous finding that a small proportion of CNV CP enters chloroplasts during the infection process and highlights the possibility that chloroplast targeting is a significant aspect of CNV infection. Remarkably, 6 to 8 of the top 10 most efficiently encapsidated nucleus-encoded RNAs in CNV virions correspond to retrotransposon or retrotransposon-like RNA sequences. Thus, CNV could potentially serve as a vehicle for horizontal transmission of retrotransposons to new hosts and thereby significantly influence genome evolution.Viruses predominantly encapsidate their own virus-related RNA species due to the possession of specific sequences and/or structures on viral RNA which serve as high-affinity binding sites for the coat protein. In this study, we show, using next-generation sequence analysis, that CNV also encapsidates host RNA species, which account for ∼0.1% of the RNA packaged in CNV particles. The encapsidated host RNAs predominantly include chloroplast RNAs, reinforcing previous observations that CNV CP enters chloroplasts during infection. Remarkably, the most abundantly encapsidated cytoplasmic mRNAs consisted of retrotransposon-like RNA sequences, similar to findings recently reported for flock house virus (A. Routh, T. Domitrovic, and J. E. Johnson, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109:1907-1912, 2012). Encapsidation of retrotransposon sequences may contribute to their horizontal transmission should CNV virions carrying retrotransposons infect a new host. Such an event could lead to large-scale genomic changes in a naive plant host, thus facilitating host evolutionary novelty.
Project description:Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is a bullet-shaped rhabdovirus and a model system of negative-strand RNA viruses. Through direct visualization by means of cryo-electron microscopy, we show that each virion contains two nested, left-handed helices: an outer helix of matrix protein M and an inner helix of nucleoprotein N and RNA. M has a hub domain with four contact sites that link to neighboring M and N subunits, providing rigidity by clamping adjacent turns of the nucleocapsid. Side-by-side interactions between neighboring N subunits are critical for the nucleocapsid to form a bullet shape, and structure-based mutagenesis results support this description. Together, our data suggest a mechanism of VSV assembly in which the nucleocapsid spirals from the tip to become the helical trunk, both subsequently framed and rigidified by the M layer.
Project description:The coat protein of positive-stranded RNA viruses often contains a positively charged tail that extends toward the center of the capsid and interacts with the viral genome. Electrostatic interaction between the tail and the RNA has been postulated as a major force in virus assembly and stabilization. The goal of this work is to examine the correlation between electrostatic interaction and amount of RNA packaged in the tripartite Brome Mosaic Virus (BMV). Nanoindentation experiment using atomic force microscopy showed that the stiffness of BMV virions with different RNAs varied by a range that is 10-fold higher than that would be predicted by electrostatics. BMV mutants with decreased positive charges encapsidated lower amounts of RNA while mutants with increased positive charges packaged additional RNAs up to ?900 nt. However, the extra RNAs included truncated BMV RNAs, an additional copy of RNA4, potential cellular RNAs, or a combination of the three, indicating that change in the charge of the capsid could result in several different outcomes in RNA encapsidation. In addition, mutant with specific arginines changed to lysines in the capsid also exhibited defects in the specific encapsidation of BMV RNA4. The experimental results indicate that electrostatics is a major component in RNA encapsidation but was unable to account for all of the observed effects on RNA encapsidation. Thermodynamic modeling incorporating the electrostatics was able to predict the approximate length of the RNA to be encapsidated for the majority of mutant virions, but not for a mutant with extreme clustered positive charges. Cryo-electron microscopy of virions that encapsidated an additional copy of RNA4 revealed that, despite the increase in RNA encapsidated, the capsid structure was minimally changed. These results experimentally demonstrated the impact of electrostatics and additional restraints in the encapsidation of BMV RNAs, which could be applicable to other viruses.
Project description:The vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) RNA-dependent RNA polymerase consists of two viral proteins; the large (L) protein is the main catalytic subunit, and the phosphoprotein (P) is an essential cofactor for polymerase function. The P protein interacts with the L protein and the N-RNA template, thus connecting the polymerase to the template. P protein also binds to free N protein to maintain it in a soluble, encapsidation-competent form. Previously, five sites of phosphorylation were identified on the P protein and these sites were reported to be differentially important for mRNA synthesis or genomic replication. The previous studies were carried out by biochemical analysis of portions of the authentic viral P protein or by analysis of bacterium-expressed, exogenously phosphorylated P protein by mutagenesis. However, there has been no systematic biochemical search for phosphorylation sites on authentic, virus-expressed P protein. In this study, we analyzed the P protein isolated from VSV-infected cells for sites of phosphorylation by mass spectrometry. We report the identification of Tyr14 as a previously unidentified phosphorylation site of VSV P and show that it is essential for viral transcription and replication. However, our mass spectral analysis failed to observe the phosphorylation of previously reported C-terminal residues Ser226 and Ser227 and mutagenic analyses did not demonstrate a role for these sites in RNA synthesis.