Correlative iPALM and SEM resolves virus cavity and Gag lattice defects in HIV virions.
ABSTRACT: Interferometric Photo-Activation-Localization-Microscopy (iPALM) localizes single fluorescent molecules with 20 nm lateral and 10 nm axial resolution. We present a method utilizing glass coverslip lithography for correlative imaging between iPALM and scanning electron microscopy (SEM). Using iPALM on HIV Gag-Dendra virus-like particles (VLPs) we localized the position of HIV Gag proteins. Based on these localizations we reconstructed the central cavity of the VLPs along with imperfections within the HIV Gag lattice. The SEM images and iPALM images overlap and show imaging from single VLPs immobilized on glass coverslips. The localization of many HIV proteins including accessory proteins and Gag-Pol remains unknown, we discuss how the specificity of iPALM coupled with SEM has the potential for resolving more of HIV proteins.
Project description:Immature human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) virions have a lattice of Gag and Gag-Pol proteins anchored to the lumen of their envelope. Using electron microscopy, we demonstrate that HIV virus-like particles (VLPs) assembled by the viral protein Gag and tagged at its C-terminus with the fluorescent protein Dendra2 have the same morphology and size as the VLPs assembled using only HIV Gag. We characterize the photophysical properties of Dendra2 and demonstrate that 60% of Dendra2 molecules can be photoswitched and reliably counted in our interferometric photoactivated localization microscopy (iPALM) setup. We further perform iPALM imaging on immobilized HIV Gag-Dendra2 VLPs and demonstrate that we can localize and count 900-1600 Dendra2 molecules within each immobilized VLP with a single-molecule localization precision better than (10 nm)3. Our molecular counts correspond to 1400-2400 Gag-Dendra2 proteins incorporated within each VLP. We further calculate temporal correlation functions of localization data, which we present as localization correlation analysis, and show dynamics within the lattice of immobilized VLPs in the timescale of 10-100 s. We further use our localization data to reconstruct time-lapse iPALM images of the Gag-Dendra2 lattice within the lumen of immobilized VLPs. The iPALM time-lapse images show significant lattice dynamics within the lumen of VLPs. Addition of disuccinimidyl suberate to the VLPs completely abrogated these dynamics as observed in both localization correlation analysis and time-lapse iPALM. In a complementary approach, we utilized HaXS8 cross-linking reactions between Halo and SNAP proteins and verified lattice dynamics in purified VLPs incorporating 10% Gag-SNAP, 10% Gag-Halo, and 80% Gag proteins. The HIV Gag lattice, along with the structural lattice of other enveloped viruses, has been mostly considered static. Our study provides an important tool to investigate the dynamics within these enveloped viruses.
Project description:We have used correlated scanning EM (SEM) and multiphoton fluorescence microscopy to visualize budding of virus-like particles (VLPs) of Rous sarcoma virus (RSV) and HIV type 1 (HIV-1). When the Gag structural protein was expressed alone as a GFP fusion, most budding particles appeared morphologically aberrant, but normal assembly could be rescued by coexpression of untagged Gag protein. Imaging of live cells allowed budding to be seen in real time as the disappearance of fluorescent spots from the dorsal cell surface. The disappearance of very bright spots containing clusters of VLPs often occurred in a stepwise fashion. Even after imaging times >1 h, only a minority of the spots disappeared, suggesting that some might be budding-incompetent complexes. On individual cells, we enumerated both the fluorescent puncta and the budding structures visible by SEM and compared these numbers for WT Gag proteins and for Gag proteins that were blocked at the last step in budding by a late domain mutation. For the mutant HIV-1 and RSV proteins, almost all of the fluorescent spots corresponded to budding structures. For WT RSV, the dorsal side of cells showed 3-fold more fluorescent spots than budding structures, suggesting that formation of the polymerized Gag shell precedes bulging out of the membrane. For WT HIV-1, most fluorescent spots corresponded with budding structures, consistent with the slower budding rate of this virus. Combining these two types of microscopy will allow innovative approaches for elucidating the mechanism of retrovirus budding.
Project description:It is now well accepted that the structural protein Pr55(Gag) is sufficient by itself to produce HIV-1 virus-like particles (VLPs). This polyprotein precursor contains different domains including matrix, capsid, SP1, nucleocapsid, SP2 and p6. In the present study, we wanted to determine by mutagenesis which region(s) is essential to the production of VLPs when Pr55(Gag) is inserted in a mammalian expression vector, which allows studying the protein of interest in the absence of other viral proteins. To do so, we first studied a minimal Pr55(Gag) sequence called Gag min that was used previously. We found that Gag min fails to produce VLPs when expressed in an expression vector instead of within a molecular clone. This failure occurs early in the cell at the assembly of viral proteins. We then generated a series of deletion and substitution mutants, and examined their ability to produce VLPs by combining biochemical and microscopic approaches. We demonstrate that the matrix region is not necessary, but that the efficiency of VLP production depends strongly on the presence of its basic region. Moreover, the presence of the N-terminal domain of capsid is required for VLP production when Gag is expressed alone. These findings, combined with previous observations indicating that HIV-1 Pr55(Gag)-derived VLPs act as potent stimulators of innate and acquired immunity, make the use of this strategy worth considering for vaccine development.
Project description:Fluorescence fluctuation spectroscopy determines the brightness, size, and concentration of fluorescent particles from the intensity bursts generated by individual particles passing through a small observation volume. Brightness provides a measure of the number of fluorescently labeled proteins within a complex and has been used previously to determine the stoichiometry of small oligomers in cells. We extend brightness analysis to large macromolecular protein complexes containing thousands of proteins and determine their stoichiometry. This study investigates viral-like particles (VLP) formed from human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Gag protein expressed in COS-1 cells using fluorescence fluctuation spectroscopy to determine the stoichiometry of HIV-1 Gag within the particles. Control experiments establish that the stoichiometry and size of VLPs are not influenced by labeling of HIV-1 Gag with a fluorescent protein. The experiments further show that the brightness scales linearly with the amount of labeled Gag within the particle. Brightness analysis shows that the Gag stoichiometry of VLPs formed in COS-1 cells is not constant, but varies with the amount of transfected DNA plasmid. We observed HIV-1 Gag stoichiometries ranging from approximately 750 to approximately 2500, whereas the size of the VLPs remains unchanged. This result indicates that large areas of the VLP membrane are void of Gag protein. Therefore, a closed layer of HIV-1 Gag at the membrane is not required for VLP production. This study shows that brightness analysis has the potential to become an important tool for investigating large molecular complexes by providing quantitative information about their size and composition.
Project description:It is widely anticipated that a prophylactic vaccine may be needed to control the HIV/AIDS epidemic worldwide. Despite over two decades of research, a vaccine against HIV-1 remains elusive, although a recent clinical trial has shown promising results. Recent studies have focused on highly conserved domains within HIV-1 such as the membrane proximal external region (MPER) of the envelope glycoprotein, gp41. MPER has been shown to play critical roles in mucosal transmission of HIV-1, though this peptide is poorly immunogenic on its own. Here we provide evidence that plant-produced HIV-1 enveloped virus-like particles (VLPs) consisting of Gag and a deconstructed form of gp41 comprising the MPER, transmembrane, and cytoplasmic domains (Dgp41) provides an effective platform to display MPER for use as an HIV vaccine candidate. Prime-boost strategies combining systemic and mucosal priming with systemic boosting using two different vaccine candidates (VLPs and CTB-MPR--a fusion of MPER and the B-subunit of cholera toxin) were investigated in BALB/c mice. Serum antibody responses against both the Gag and gp41 antigens were elicited when systemically primed with VLPs. These responses could be recalled following systemic boosting with VLPs. In addition, mucosal priming with VLPs allowed for a boosting response against Gag and gp41 when boosted with either candidate. Importantly, the VLPs also induced Gag-specific CD4 and CD8 T-cell responses. This report on the immunogenicity of plant-based Gag/Dgp41 VLPs may represent an important milestone on the road towards a broadly efficacious and inexpensive subunit vaccine against HIV-1.
Project description:Newcastle disease virus (NDV) avirulent strain LaSota was used to coexpress gp160 Env and p55 Gag from a single vector to enhance both Env-specific and Gag-specific immune responses. The optimal transcription position for both Env and Gag genes in the NDV genome was determined by generating recombinant NDV (rNDV)-Env-Gag (gp160 located between the P and M genes and Gag between the HN and L genes), rNDV-Gag-Env (Gag located between the P and M genes and gp160 between the HN and L genes), rNDV-Env/Gag (gp160 followed by Gag located between the P and M genes), and rNDV-Gag/Env (Gag followed by gp160 located between the P and M genes). All the recombinant viruses replicated at levels similar to those seen with parental NDV in embryonated chicken eggs and in chicken fibroblast cells. Both gp160 and Gag proteins were expressed at high levels in cell culture, with gp160 found to be incorporated into the envelope of NDV. The Gag and Env proteins expressed by all the recombinants except rNDV-Env-Gag self-assembled into human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) virus-like particles (VLPs). Immunization of guinea pigs by the intranasal route with these rNDVs produced long-lasting Env- and Gag-specific humoral immune responses. The Env-specific humoral and mucosal immune responses and Gag-specific humoral immune responses were higher in rNDV-Gag/Env and rNDV-Env/Gag than in the other recombinants. rNDV-Gag/Env and rNDV-Env/Gag were also more efficient in inducing cellular as well as protective immune responses to challenge with vaccinia viruses expressing HIV-1 Env and Gag in mice. These results suggest that vaccination with a single rNDV coexpressing Env and Gag represents a promising strategy to enhance immunogenicity and protective efficacy against HIV.A safe and effective vaccine that can induce both systemic and mucosal immune responses is needed to control HIV-1. In this study, we showed that coexpression of Env and Gag proteins of HIV-1 performed using a single Newcastle disease virus (NDV) vector led to the formation of HIV-1 virus-like particles (VLPs). Immunization of guinea pigs with recombinant NDVs (rNDVs) elicited potent long-lasting systemic and mucosal immune responses to HIV. Additionally, the rNDVs were efficient in inducing cellular immune responses to HIV and protective immunity to challenge with vaccinia viruses expressing HIV Env and Gag in mice. These results suggest that the use of a single NDV expressing Env and Gag proteins simultaneously is a novel strategy to develop a safe and effective vaccine against HIV.
Project description:Actin and actin-binding proteins are incorporated into HIV-1 particles, and F-actin has been suggested to bind the NC domain in HIV-1 Gag. Furthermore, F-actin has been frequently observed in the vicinity of HIV-1 budding sites by cryo-electron tomography (cET). Filamentous structures emanating from viral buds and suggested to correspond to actin filaments have been observed by atomic force microscopy. To determine whether the NC domain of Gag is required for actin association with viral buds and for actin incorporation into HIV-1, we performed comparative analyses of virus-like particles (VLPs) obtained by expression of wild-type HIV-1 Gag or a Gag variant where the entire NC domain had been replaced by a dimerizing leucine zipper [Gag(LZ)]. The latter protein yielded efficient production of VLPs with near-wild-type assembly kinetics and size and exhibited a regular immature Gag lattice. Typical HIV-1 budding sites were detected by using cET in cells expressing either Gag or Gag(LZ), and no difference was observed regarding the association of buds with the F-actin network. Furthermore, actin was equally incorporated into wild-type HIV-1 and Gag- or Gag(LZ)-derived VLPs, with less actin per particle observed than had been reported previously. Incorporation appeared to correlate with the relative intracellular actin concentration, suggesting an uptake of cytosol rather than a specific recruitment of actin. Thus, the NC domain in HIV-1 Gag does not appear to have a role in actin recruitment or actin incorporation into HIV-1 particles. Importance: HIV-1 particles bud from the plasma membrane, which is lined by a network of actin filaments. Actin was found to interact with the nucleocapsid domain of the viral structural protein Gag and is incorporated in significant amounts into HIV-1 particles, suggesting that it may play an active role in virus release. Using electron microscopy techniques, we previously observed bundles of actin filaments near HIV-1 buds, often seemingly in contact with the Gag layer. Here, we show that this spatial association is observed independently of the proposed actin-binding domain of HIV-1. The absence of this domain also did not affect actin incorporation and had a minor effect on the viral assembly rate. Furthermore, actin was not enriched in the virus compared to the average levels in the respective producing cell. Our data argue against a specific recruitment of actin to HIV-1 budding sites by the nucleocapsid domain of Gag.
Project description:The Gag protein of avian sarcoma virus (ASV) lacks an N-myristoyl (myr) group, but contains structural domains similar to those of HIV-1 Gag. Similarly to HIV-1, ASV Gag accumulates on the plasma membrane (PM) before egress; however, it is unclear whether the phospholipid PI(4,5)P2 binds directly to the matrix (MA) domain of ASV Gag, as is the case for HIV-1 Gag. Moreover, the role of PI(4,5)P2 in ASV Gag localization and budding has been controversial. Here, we report that substitution of residues that define the PI(4,5)P2-binding site in the ASV MA domain (reported in an accompanying paper) interfere with Gag localization to the cell periphery and inhibit the production of virus-like particles (VLPs). We show that co-expression of Sprouty2 (Spry2) or the pleckstrin homology domain of phospholipase C? (PH-PLC), two proteins that bind PI(4,5)P2, affects ASV Gag trafficking to the PM and budding. Replacement of the N-terminal 32 residues of HIV-1 MA, which encode its N-terminal myr signal and its PI(4,5)P2-binding site, with the structurally equivalent N-terminal 24 residues of ASV MA created a chimera that localized at the PM and produced VLPs. In contrast, the homologous PI(4,5)P2-binding signal in ASV MA could target HIV-1 Gag to the PM when substituted, but did not support budding. Collectively, these findings reveal a basic patch in both ASV and HIV-1 Gag capable of mediating PM binding and budding for ASV but not for HIV-1 Gag. We conclude that PI(4,5)P2 is a strong determinant of ASV Gag targeting to the PM and budding.
Project description:HIV Gag polymerizes on the plasma membrane to form virus like particles (VLPs) that have similar diameters to wild-type viruses. We use multicolor, dual-penetration depth, total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy, which corrects for azimuthal movement, to image the assembly of individual VLPs from the time of nucleation to the recruitment of VPS4 (a component of the endosomal sorting complexes required for transport, and which marks the final stage of VLP assembly). Using a mathematical model for assembly and maximum-likelihood comparison of fits both with and without pauses, we detect pauses during Gag polymerization in 60% of VLPs. Pauses range from 2 to 20 min, with an exponentially distributed duration that is independent of cytosolic Gag concentration. VLPs assembled with late domain mutants of Gag (which do not recruit the key endosomal sorting complexes required for transport proteins Alix or TSG101) exhibit similar pause distributions. These pauses indicate that a single rate-limiting event is required for continuation of assembly. We suggest that pauses are either related to incorporation of defects in the hexagonal Gag lattice during VLP assembly or are caused by shortcomings in interactions of Gag with essential and still undefined cellular components during formation of curvature on the plasma membrane.
Project description:The Gag protein is the main retroviral structural protein, and its expression alone is usually sufficient for production of virus-like particles (VLPs). In this study, we sought to investigate-in parallel comparative analyses-Gag cellular distribution, VLP size, and basic morphological features using Gag expression constructs (Gag or Gag-YFP, where YFP is yellow fluorescent protein) created from all representative retroviral genera: Alpharetrovirus, Betaretrovirus, Deltaretrovirus, Epsilonretrovirus, Gammaretrovirus, Lentivirus, and Spumavirus. We analyzed Gag cellular distribution by confocal microscopy, VLP budding by thin-section transmission electron microscopy (TEM), and general morphological features of the VLPs by cryogenic transmission electron microscopy (cryo-TEM). Punctate Gag was observed near the plasma membrane for all Gag constructs tested except for the representative Beta- and Epsilonretrovirus Gag proteins. This is the first report of Epsilonretrovirus Gag localizing to the nucleus of HeLa cells. While VLPs were not produced by the representative Beta- and Epsilonretrovirus Gag proteins, the other Gag proteins produced VLPs as confirmed by TEM, and morphological differences were observed by cryo-TEM. In particular, we observed Deltaretrovirus-like particles with flat regions of electron density that did not follow viral membrane curvature, Lentivirus-like particles with a narrow range and consistent electron density, suggesting a tightly packed Gag lattice, and Spumavirus-like particles with large envelope protein spikes and no visible electron density associated with a Gag lattice. Taken together, these parallel comparative analyses demonstrate for the first time the distinct morphological features that exist among retrovirus-like particles. Investigation of these differences will provide greater insights into the retroviral assembly pathway.Comparative analysis among retroviruses has been critically important in enhancing our understanding of retroviral replication and pathogenesis, including that of important human pathogens such as human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) and HIV-1. In this study, parallel comparative analyses have been used to study Gag expression and virus-like particle morphology among representative retroviruses in the known retroviral genera. Distinct differences were observed, which enhances current knowledge of the retroviral assembly pathway.