Mildly Acidic pH Triggers an Irreversible Conformational Change in the Fusion Domain of Herpes Simplex Virus 1 Glycoprotein B and Inactivation of Viral Entry.
ABSTRACT: Herpes simplex virus (HSV) entry into a subset of cells requires endocytosis and endosomal low pH. Preexposure of isolated virions to mildly acidic pH of 5 to 6 partially inactivates HSV infectivity in an irreversible manner. Acid inactivation is a hallmark of viruses that enter via low-pH pathways; this occurs by pretriggering conformational changes essential for fusion. The target and mechanism(s) of low-pH inactivation of HSV are unclear. Here, low-pH-treated HSV-1 was defective in fusion activity and yet retained normal levels of attachment to cell surface heparan sulfate and binding to nectin-1 receptor. Low-pH-triggered conformational changes in gB reported to date are reversible, despite irreversible low-pH inactivation. gB conformational changes and their reversibility were measured by antigenic analysis with a panel of monoclonal antibodies and by detecting changes in oligomeric conformation. Three-hour treatment of HSV-1 virions with pH 5 or multiple sequential treatments at pH 5 followed by neutral pH caused an irreversible >2.5 log infectivity reduction. While changes in several gB antigenic sites were reversible, alteration of the H126 epitope was irreversible. gB oligomeric conformational change remained reversible under all conditions tested. Altogether, our results reveal that oligomeric alterations and fusion domain changes represent distinct conformational changes in gB, and the latter correlates with irreversible low-pH inactivation of HSV. We propose that conformational change in the gB fusion domain is important for activation of membrane fusion during viral entry and that in the absence of a host target membrane, this change results in irreversible inactivation of virions.IMPORTANCE HSV-1 is an important pathogen with a high seroprevalence throughout the human population. HSV infects cells via multiple pathways, including a low-pH route into epithelial cells, the primary portal into the host. HSV is inactivated by low-pH preexposure, and gB, a class III fusion protein, undergoes reversible conformational changes in response to low-pH exposure. Here, we show that low-pH inactivation of HSV is irreversible and due to a defect in virion fusion activity. We identified an irreversible change in the fusion domain of gB following multiple sequential low-pH exposures or following prolonged low-pH treatment. This change appears to be separable from the alteration in gB quaternary structure. Together, the results are consistent with a model by which low pH can have an activating or inactivating effect on HSV depending on the presence of a target membrane.
Project description:Herpesviruses enter cells by membrane fusion either at the plasma membrane or in endosomes, depending on the cell type. Glycoprotein B (gB) is a conserved component of the multiprotein herpesvirus fusion machinery and functions as a fusion protein, with two internal fusion loops, FL1 and FL2. We determined the crystal structures of the ectodomains of two FL1 mutants of herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) gB to clarify whether their fusion-null phenotypes were due to global or local effects of the mutations on the structure of the gB ectodomain. Each mutant has a single point mutation of a hydrophobic residue in FL1 that eliminates the hydrophobic side chain. We found that neither mutation affected the conformation of FL1, although one mutation slightly altered the conformation of FL2, and we conclude that the fusion-null phenotype is due to the absence of a hydrophobic side chain at the mutated position. Because the ectodomains of the wild-type and the mutant forms of gB crystallized at both low and neutral pH, we were able to determine the effect of pH on gB conformation at the atomic level. For viruses that enter cells by endocytosis, the low pH of the endosome effects major conformational changes in their fusion proteins, thereby promoting fusion of the viral envelope with the endosomal membrane. We show here that upon exposure of gB to low pH, FL2 undergoes a major relocation, probably driven by protonation of a key histidine residue. Relocation of FL2, as well as additional small conformational changes in the gB ectodomain, helps explain previously noted changes in its antigenic and biochemical properties. However, no global pH-dependent changes in gB structure were detected in either the wild-type or the mutant forms of gB. Thus, low pH causes local conformational changes in gB that are very different from the large-scale fusogenic conformational changes in other viral fusion proteins. We propose that these conformational changes, albeit modest, play an important functional role during endocytic entry of HSV.
Project description:The Ebola virus (EBOV) envelope glycoprotein (GP) is a membrane fusion machine required for virus entry into cells. Following endocytosis of EBOV, the GP1 domain is cleaved by cellular cathepsins in acidic endosomes, removing the glycan cap and exposing a binding site for the Niemann-Pick C1 (NPC1) receptor. NPC1 binding to cleaved GP1 is required for entry. How this interaction translates to GP2 domain-mediated fusion of viral and endosomal membranes is not known. Here, using a bulk fluorescence dequenching assay and single-molecule Förster resonance energy transfer (smFRET)-imaging, we found that acidic pH, Ca2+, and NPC1 binding synergistically induce conformational changes in GP2 and permit virus-liposome lipid mixing. Acidic pH and Ca2+ shifted the GP2 conformational equilibrium in favor of an intermediate state primed for NPC1 binding. Glycan cap cleavage on GP1 enabled GP2 to transition from a reversible intermediate to an irreversible conformation, suggestive of the postfusion 6-helix bundle; NPC1 binding further promoted transition to the irreversible conformation. Thus, the glycan cap of GP1 may allosterically protect against inactivation of EBOV by premature triggering of GP2.
Project description:Influenza hemagglutinin (HA) is the canonical type I viral envelope glycoprotein and provides a template for the membrane-fusion mechanisms of numerous viruses. The current model of HA-mediated membrane fusion describes a static "spring-loaded" fusion domain (HA2) at neutral pH. Acidic pH triggers a singular irreversible conformational rearrangement in HA2 that fuses viral and cellular membranes. Here, using single-molecule Förster resonance energy transfer (smFRET)-imaging, we directly visualized pH-triggered conformational changes of HA trimers on the viral surface. Our analyses reveal reversible exchange between the pre-fusion and two intermediate conformations of HA2. Acidification of pH and receptor binding shifts the dynamic equilibrium of HA2 in favor of forward progression along the membrane-fusion reaction coordinate. Interaction with the target membrane promotes irreversible transition of HA2 to the post-fusion state. The reversibility of HA2 conformation may protect against transition to the post-fusion state prior to arrival at the target membrane.
Project description:Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is a herpesvirus that is associated with development of malignancies of lymphoid tissue. EBV infections are life-long and occur in >90% of the population. Herpesviruses enter host cells in a process that involves fusion of viral and cellular membranes. The fusion apparatus is comprised of envelope glycoprotein B (gB) and a heterodimeric complex made of glycoproteins H and L. Glycoprotein B is the most conserved envelope glycoprotein in human herpesviruses, and the structure of gB from Herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) is available. Here, we report the crystal structure of the secreted EBV gB ectodomain, which forms 16-nm long spike-like trimers, structurally homologous to the postfusion trimers of the fusion protein G of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV). Comparative structural analyses of EBV gB and VSV G, which has been solved in its pre and postfusion states, shed light on gB residues that may be involved in conformational changes and membrane fusion. Also, the EBV gB structure reveals that, despite the high sequence conservation of gB in herpesviruses, the relative orientations of individual domains, the surface charge distributions, and the structural details of EBV gB differ from the HSV-1 protein, indicating regions and residues that may have important roles in virus-specific entry.
Project description:Membrane fusion induced by herpes simplex virus (HSV) requires the action of four viral membrane glycoproteins (gB, gD, gH, and gL) and the binding of gD to one of its receptors, such as the herpesvirus entry mediator or nectin-1. The related animal herpesvirus, pseudorabies virus (PRV), encodes a homologous set of glycoproteins and its gD can also use nectin-1 as an entry receptor. We show here that PRV gD, when coexpressed with HSV gB, gH, and gL, cannot substitute for HSV gD in inducing fusion with target cells expressing nectin-1. Chimeric gD molecules composed of HSV and PRV sequences can substitute, provided the first 285 aa are from HSV gD. Because the first 261 aa were sufficient for receptor binding, this suggested that amino acids 262-285 contain a region required for cell fusion but not for receptor binding. Deletions from amino acids 250-299 failed to identify a specific subregion critical for cell fusion, except possibly for amino acids 250-255, which also influenced receptor binding. Instead, presence of a flexible stalk between the membrane and receptor-binding domain appears to be required, perhaps to enable conformational changes in gD on receptor binding and subsequent interactions of undefined regions of gD with the other glycoproteins required for membrane fusion.
Project description:Membrane fusion is not spontaneous. Therefore, enveloped viruses have evolved membrane-fusion mediating glycoproteins that, once activated, refold, and release energy that fuses viral and cellular membranes. The influenza A virus hemagglutinin (HA) protein is a prototypic structural class I viral fusion glycoprotein that, once primed by proteolytic cleavage, is activated by endosomal low pH to form a fusogenic "leash-in-grooves" hairpin structure. Low-pH induced HA protein refolding is an irreversible process, so acid exposure in the absence of a target membrane leads to virus inactivation. The HA proteins of diverse influenza virus subtypes isolated from a variety of species differ in their acid stabilities, or pH values at which irreversible HA protein conformational changes are triggered. Recently, efficient replication of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses such as H5N1 in avian species has been associated with a relatively high HA activation pH. In contrast, a decrease in H5N1 HA activation pH has been shown to enhance replication and airborne transmission in mammals. Mutations that alter the acid stabilities of H1 and H3 HA proteins have also been discovered that influence the amantadine susceptibilities, replication rates, and pathogenicities of human influenza viruses. An understanding of the role of HA acid stability in influenza virus biology is expected to aid in identifying emerging viruses with increased pandemic potential and assist in developing live attenuated virus vaccines. Acid-induced HA protein activation, which has provided a paradigm for protein-mediated membrane fusion, is now identified as a novel determinant of influenza virus biology.
Project description:Membrane fusion mediated by the influenza-virus fusion protein is activated by low pH via a cascade of reactions. Some processes among them are irreversible, such as helix hairpin formation of the ectodomain, whereas others are reversible, such as exposure of the fusion peptide. Using this property, we attempted to dissect, in temporal order, different stages of the fusion reaction involving the fusion peptide by an acidic-neutral-acidic pH cycle. The fluorescence-quenching data indicated that both insertion depth and self-assembly are pH-reversible. In addition, lipid mixing assay was demonstrated to be arrested by neutral pH. By contrast, membrane leakage was shown to be irreversible with respect to pH. Our results, along with those from other studies on the pH-dependence of membrane fusion, are used to build a model for the virus-mediated fusion event from the perspective of pH-reversibility.
Project description:All enveloped viruses, including herpesviruses, must fuse their envelope with the host membrane to deliver their genomes into target cells, making this essential step subject to interference by antibodies and drugs. Viral fusion is mediated by a viral surface protein that transits from an initial prefusion conformation to a final postfusion conformation. Strikingly, the prefusion conformation of the herpesvirus fusion protein, gB, is poorly understood. Herpes simplex virus (HSV), a model system for herpesviruses, causes diseases ranging from mild skin lesions to serious encephalitis and neonatal infections. Using cryo-electron tomography and subtomogram averaging, we have characterized the structure of the prefusion conformation and fusion intermediates of HSV-1 gB. To this end, we have set up a system that generates microvesicles displaying full-length gB on their envelope. We confirmed proper folding of gB by nondenaturing electrophoresis-Western blotting with a panel of monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) covering all gB domains. To elucidate the arrangement of gB domains, we labeled them by using (i) mutagenesis to insert fluorescent proteins at specific positions, (ii) coexpression of gB with Fabs for a neutralizing MAb with known binding sites, and (iii) incubation of gB with an antibody directed against the fusion loops. Our results show that gB starts in a compact prefusion conformation with the fusion loops pointing toward the viral membrane and suggest, for the first time, a model for gB's conformational rearrangements during fusion. These experiments further illustrate how neutralizing antibodies can interfere with the essential gB structural transitions that mediate viral entry and therefore infectivity.IMPORTANCE The herpesvirus family includes herpes simplex virus (HSV) and other human viruses that cause lifelong infections and a variety of diseases, like skin lesions, encephalitis, and cancers. As enveloped viruses, herpesviruses must fuse their envelope with the host membrane to start an infection. This process is mediated by a viral surface protein that transitions from an initial conformation (prefusion) to a final, more stable, conformation (postfusion). However, the prefusion conformation of the herpesvirus fusion protein (gB) is poorly understood. To elucidate the structure of the prefusion conformation of HSV type 1 gB, we have employed cryo-electron microscopy to study gB molecules expressed on the surface of vesicles. Using different approaches to label gB's domains allowed us to model the structures of the prefusion and intermediate conformations of gB. Overall, our findings enhance our understanding of HSV fusion and lay the groundwork for the development of new ways to prevent and block HSV infection.
Project description:Entry of herpes simplex virus (HSV) into a target cell requires complex interactions and conformational changes by viral glycoproteins gD, gH/gL, and gB. During viral entry, gB transitions from a prefusion to a postfusion conformation, driving fusion of the viral envelope with the host cell membrane. While the structure of postfusion gB is known, the prefusion conformation of gB remains elusive. As the prefusion conformation of gB is a critical target for neutralizing antibodies, we set out to describe its structure by making genetic insertions of fluorescent proteins (FP) throughout the gB ectodomain. We created gB constructs with FP insertions in each of the three globular domains of gB. Among 21 FP insertion constructs, we found 8 that allowed gB to remain membrane fusion competent. Due to the size of an FP, regions in gB that tolerate FP insertion must be solvent exposed. Two FP insertion mutants were cell-surface expressed but non-functional, while FP insertions located in the crown were not surface expressed. This is the first report of placing a fluorescent protein insertion within a structural domain of a functional viral fusion protein, and our results are consistent with a model of prefusion HSV gB constructed from the prefusion VSV G crystal structure. Additionally, we found that functional FP insertions from two different structural domains could be combined to create a functional form of gB labeled with both CFP and YFP. FRET was measured with this construct, and we found that when co-expressed with gH/gL, the FRET signal from gB was significantly different from the construct containing CFP alone, as well as gB found in syncytia, indicating that this construct and others of similar design are likely to be powerful tools to monitor the conformation of gB in any model system accessible to light microscopy.
Project description:Cell entry of enveloped viruses requires specialized viral proteins that mediate fusion with the host membrane by substantial structural rearrangements from a metastable pre- to a stable postfusion conformation. This metastability renders the herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1) fusion glycoprotein B (gB) highly unstable such that it readily converts into the postfusion form, thereby precluding structural elucidation of the pharmacologically relevant prefusion conformation. By identification of conserved sequence signatures and molecular dynamics simulations, we devised a mutation that stabilized this form. Functionally locking gB allowed the structural determination of its membrane-embedded prefusion conformation at sub-nanometer resolution and enabled the unambiguous fit of all ectodomains. The resulting pseudo-atomic model reveals a notable conservation of conformational domain rearrangements during fusion between HSV-1 gB and the vesicular stomatitis virus glycoprotein G, despite their very distant phylogeny. In combination with our comparative sequence-structure analysis, these findings suggest common fusogenic domain rearrangements in all class III viral fusion proteins.