E1 and E2 (E1E2), the fusion proteins of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV), are unlike that of any other virus yet described, and the detailed molecular mechanisms of HCV entry/fusion remain unknown. Hypervariable region-1 (HVR-1) of E2 is a putative intrinsically disordered protein tail. Here, we demonstrate that HVR-1 has an autoinhibitory function that suppresses the activity of E1E2 on free virions; this is dependent on its conformational entropy. Thus, HVR-1 is akin to a safety catch that prevents premature triggering of E1E2 activity. Crucially, this mechanism is turned off by host receptor interactions at the cell surface to allow entry. Mutations that reduce conformational entropy in HVR-1, or genetic deletion of HVR-1, turn off the safety catch to generate hyper-reactive HCV that exhibits enhanced virus entry but is thermally unstable and acutely sensitive to neutralising antibodies. Therefore, the HVR-1 safety catch controls the efficiency of virus entry and maintains resistance to neutralising antibodies. This discovery provides an explanation for the ability of HCV to persist in the face of continual immune assault and represents a novel regulatory mechanism that is likely to be found in other viral fusion machinery.
The underlying data for this manuscript are provided as a Source Data file. Full molecular dynamic simulation trajectories are available here: https://zenodo.org/record/4309544
- Joe Grove
- Joe Grove
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Human subjects: Fully consented blood samples (for IgG isolation) were collected from HCV+ patients under ethical approval: "Characterising and modifying immune responses in chronic viral hepatitis"; IRAS Number 43993; REC number 11/LO/0421.
- Glenn Randall
© 2022, Stejskal et al.
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Microsporidia are eukaryotic, obligate intracellular parasites that infect a wide range of hosts, leading to health and economic burdens worldwide. Microsporidia use an unusual invasion organelle called the polar tube (PT), which is ejected from a dormant spore at ultra-fast speeds, to infect host cells. The mechanics of PT ejection are impressive. Anncaliia algerae microsporidia spores (3–4 μm in size) shoot out a 100-nm-wide PT at a speed of 300 μm/s, creating a shear rate of 3000 s-1. The infectious cargo, which contains two nuclei, is shot through this narrow tube for a distance of ∼60–140 μm (Jaroenlak et al, 2020) and into the host cell. Considering the large hydraulic resistance in an extremely thin tube and the low-Reynolds-number nature of the process, it is not known how microsporidia can achieve this ultrafast event. In this study, we use Serial Block-Face Scanning Electron Microscopy to capture 3-dimensional snapshots of A. algerae spores in different states of the PT ejection process. Grounded in these data, we propose a theoretical framework starting with a systematic exploration of possible topological connectivity amongst organelles, and assess the energy requirements of the resulting models. We perform PT firing experiments in media of varying viscosity, and use the results to rank our proposed hypotheses based on their predicted energy requirement. We also present a possible mechanism for cargo translocation, and quantitatively compare our predictions to experimental observations. Our study provides a comprehensive biophysical analysis of the energy dissipation of microsporidian infection process and demonstrates the extreme limits of cellular hydraulics.
Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is a major cell entry receptor for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The induction of ACE2 expression may serve as a strategy by SARS-CoV-2 to facilitate its propagation. However, the regulatory mechanisms of ACE2 expression after viral infection remain largely unknown. Using 45 different luciferase reporters, the transcription factors SP1 and HNF4α were found to positively and negatively regulate ACE2 expression, respectively, at the transcriptional level in human lung epithelial cells (HPAEpiCs). SARS-CoV-2 infection increased the transcriptional activity of SP1 while inhibiting that of HNF4α. The PI3K/AKT signaling pathway, activated by SARS-CoV-2 infection, served as a crucial regulatory node, inducing ACE2 expression by enhancing SP1 phosphorylation—a marker of its activity—and reducing the nuclear localization of HNF4α. However, colchicine treatment inhibited the PI3K/AKT signaling pathway, thereby suppressing ACE2 expression. In Syrian hamsters (Mesocricetus auratus) infected with SARS-CoV-2, inhibition of SP1 by either mithramycin A or colchicine resulted in reduced viral replication and tissue injury. In summary, our study uncovers a novel function of SP1 in the regulation of ACE2 expression and identifies SP1 as a potential target to reduce SARS-CoV-2 infection.