[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The clinical course of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) infection is highly variable between infected individual hosts: up to 80% of acutely HCV infected patients develop a chronic infection while 20% clear infection spontaneously. Spontaneous clearance of HCV infection can be predicted by several factors, including symptomatic acute infection, favorable IFNL3 polymorphisms and gender. In our study, we explored the possibility that variants in HCV cell entry factors might be involved in resistance to HCV infection. In a same case patient highly exposed but not infected by HCV, we previously identified one mutation in claudin-6 (CLDN6) and a rare variant in occludin (OCLN), two tight junction proteins involved in HCV entry into hepatocytes. Here, we conducted an extensive functional study to characterize the ability of these two natural variants to prevent HCV entry. We used lentiviral vectors to express Wildtype or mutated CLDN6 and OCLN in different cell lines and primary human hepatocytes. HCV infection was then investigated using cell culture produced HCV particles (HCVcc) as well as HCV pseudoparticles (HCVpp) expressing envelope proteins from different genotypes. Our results show that variants of CLDN6 and OCLN expressed separately or in combination did not affect HCV infection nor cell-to-cell transmission. Hence, our study highlights the complexity of HCV resistance mechanisms supporting the fact that this process probably not primarily involves HCV entry factors and that other unknown host factors may be implicated.
PLoS ONE 11/2015; 10(11). DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0142539 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Despite the validation of direct-acting antivirals for hepatitis C treatment, the discovery of new compounds with different modes of action may still be of importance for the treatment of special patient populations. We recently identified a natural molecule, epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), as an inhibitor of hepatitis C virus (HCV) targeting the viral particle. The aim of this work was to discover new natural compounds with higher anti-HCV activity than that of EGCG and determine their mode of action. Eight natural molecules with structure similarity to EGCG were selected. HCV JFH1 in cell culture and HCV pseudoparticle systems were used to determine the antiviral activity and mechanism of action of the compounds. We identified delphinidin, a polyphenol belonging to the anthocyanidin family, as a new inhibitor of HCV entry. Delphinidin inhibits HCV entry in a pangenotypic manner by acting directly on the viral particle and impairing its attachment to the cell surface. Importantly, it is also active against HCV in primary human hepatocytes, with no apparent cytotoxicity and in combination with interferon and boceprevir in cell culture. Different approaches showed that neither aggregation nor destruction of the particle occurred. Cryo-transmission electron microscopy observations of HCV pseudoparticles treated with delphinidin or EGCG showed a bulge on particles that was not observed under control conditions. In conclusion, EGCG and delphinidin inhibit HCV entry by a new mechanism, i.e., alteration of the viral particle structure that impairs its attachment to the cell surface.
Journal of Virology 07/2015; 89(19). DOI:10.1128/JVI.01473-15 · 4.44 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In our study, we characterized the effect of monensin, an ionophore that is known to raise the intracellular pH, on the hepatitis C virus (HCV) life cycle. We showed that monensin inhibits HCV entry in a pangenotypic and dose-dependent manner. Monensin induces an alkalization of intracellular organelles, leading to an inhibition of the fusion step between viral and cellular membranes. Interestingly, we demonstrated that HCV cell-to-cell transmission is dependent on the vesicular pH. Using the selective pressure of monensin, we selected a monensin-resistant virus which has evolved to use a new entry route that is partially pH and clathrin independent. Characterization of this mutant led to the identification of two mutations in envelope proteins, the Y297H mutation in E1 and the I399T mutation in hypervariable region 1 (HVR1) of E2, which confer resistance to monensin and thus allow HCV to use a pH-independent entry route. Interestingly, the I399T mutation introduces an N-glycosylation site within HVR1 and increases the density of virions and their sensitivity to neutralization with anti-apolipoprotein E (anti-ApoE) antibodies, suggesting that this mutation likely induces conformational changes in HVR1 that in turn modulate the association with ApoE. Strikingly, the I399T mutation dramatically reduces HCV cell-to-cell spread. In summary, we identified a mutation in HVR1 that overcomes the vesicular pH dependence, modifies the biophysical properties of particles, and drastically reduces cellto- cell transmission, indicating that the regulation by HVR1 of particle association with ApoE might control the pH dependence of cell-free and cell-to-cell transmission. Thus, HVR1 and ApoE are critical regulators of HCV propagation.
Journal of Virology 06/2015; 89(16). DOI:10.1128/JVI.00192-15 · 4.44 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Unlabelled:
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) entry involves binding to cell surface heparan sulfate (HS) structures. However, due to the lipoprotein-like structure of HCV, the exact contribution of virion components to this interaction remains controversial. Here, we investigated the relative contribution of HCV envelope proteins and apolipoprotein E in the HS-binding step. Deletion of hypervariable region 1, a region previously proposed to be involved in HS binding, did not alter HCV virion binding to HS, indicating that this region is not involved in this interaction in the context of a viral infection. Patient sera and monoclonal antibodies recognizing different regions of HCV envelope glycoproteins were also used in a pulldown assay with beads coated with heparin, a close HS structural homologue. Although isolated HCV envelope glycoproteins could interact with heparin, none of these antibodies was able to interfere with the virion-heparin interaction, strongly suggesting that at the virion surface, HCV envelope glycoproteins are not accessible for HS binding. In contrast, results from kinetic studies, heparin pulldown experiments, and inhibition experiments with anti-apolipoprotein E antibodies indicated that this apolipoprotein plays a major role in HCV-HS interaction. Finally, characterization of the HS structural determinants required for HCV infection by silencing of the enzymes involved in the HS biosynthesis pathway and by competition with modified heparin indicated that N- and 6-O-sulfation but not 2-O-sulfation is required for HCV infection and that the minimum HS oligosaccharide length required for HCV infection is a decasaccharide. Together, these data indicate that HCV hijacks apolipoprotein E to initiate its interaction with specific HS structures.
Hepatitis C is a global health problem. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infects approximately 130 million individuals worldwide, with the majority of cases remaining undiagnosed and untreated. In most infected individuals, the virus evades the immune system and establishes a chronic infection. As a consequence, hepatitis C is the leading cause of cirrhosis, end-stage liver disease, hepatocellular carcinoma, and liver transplantation. Virus infection is initiated by entry of the virus into the host cell. In this study, we provide new insights into the viral and cellular determinants involved in the first step of HCV entry, the binding of the virus to host cells. We show that apolipoprotein E is likely responsible for virus binding to heparan sulfate and that N- and 6-O-sulfation of the heparan sulfate proteoglycans is required for HCV infection. In addition, the minimal HS length unit required for HCV infection is a decasaccharide.
Journal of Virology 01/2015; 89(7). DOI:10.1128/JVI.03647-14 · 4.44 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Core plays a critical role during HCV assembly, not only as a structural component of the virion, but also as a regulator of the formation of assembly sites. In this study, we observed that core is expressed later than other HCV proteins in a single viral cycle assay, resulting in a relative increase of core expression during a late step of the viral life cycle. This delayed core expression results from an increase of core half-life, indicating that core is initially degraded and is stabilized at a late step of the HCV life cycle. A stabilization-mediated delayed kinetics of core expression was also observed using heterologous expression systems. Core stabilization did not depend on its interaction with non-structural proteins or lipid droplets but was correlated to its expression levels and its oligomerization status. Therefore in the course of a HCV infection, core stabilization likely occurs when the prior amplification of the viral genome during an initial replication step allows core to be synthesized at higher levels as a stable protein during the assembly step of the viral life cycle.
Journal of General Virology 10/2014; 96(Pt_2). DOI:10.1099/vir.0.070433-0 · 3.18 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Unlabelled:
Hepatitis C virus (HCV)-induced endstage liver disease is currently a major indication for liver transplantation. After transplantation the donor liver inevitably becomes infected with the circulating virus. Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) against the HCV coreceptor scavenger receptor class B type I (SR-BI) inhibit HCV infection of different genotypes, both in cell culture and in humanized mice. Anti-SR-BI mAb therapy is successful even when initiated several days after HCV exposure, supporting its potential applicability to prevent HCV reinfection of liver allografts. However, HCV variants with reduced SR-BI dependency have been described in the literature, which could potentially limit the use of SR-BI targeting therapy. In this study we show, both in a preventative and postexposure setting, that humanized mice infected with HCV variants exhibiting increased in vitro resistance to SR-BI-targeting molecules remain responsive to anti-SR-BI mAb therapy in vivo. A 2-week antibody therapy readily cleared HCV RNA from the circulation of infected humanized mice. We found no evidence supporting increased SR-BI-receptor dependency of viral particles isolated from humanized mice compared to cell culture-produced virus. However, we observed that, unlike wild-type virus, the in vitro infectivity of the resistant variants was inhibited by both human high density lipoprotein (HDL) and very low density lipoprotein (VLDL). The combination of mAb1671 with these lipoproteins further increased the antiviral effect.
HCV variants that are less dependent on SR-BI in vitro can still be efficiently blocked by an anti-SR-BI mAb in humanized mice. Since these variants are also more susceptible to neutralization by anti-HCV envelope antibodies, their chance of emerging during anti-SR-BI therapy is severely reduced. Our data indicate that anti-SR-BI receptor therapy could be an effective way to prevent HCV infection in a liver transplant setting.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The target cell tropism of enveloped viruses is regulated by interactions between viral proteins and cellular receptors determining susceptibility at a host cell, tissue or species level. However, a number of additional cell-surface moieties can also bind viral envelope glycoproteins and could act as capture receptors, serving as attachment factors to concentrate virus particles on the cell surface, or to disseminate the virus infection to target organs or susceptible cells within the host. Here, we used Junín virus (JUNV) or JUNV glycoprotein complex (GPC)-pseudotyped particles to study their ability to be internalized by the human C-type lectins hDC- or hL-SIGN. Our results provide evidence that hDC- and hL-SIGN can mediate the entry of Junín virus into cells, and may play an important role in virus infection and dissemination in the host.
Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications 10/2013; 441(3). DOI:10.1016/j.bbrc.2013.10.106 · 2.30 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent reports indicate that the replication of hepatitis C virus (HCV) depends on the GBF1-Arf1-COP-I pathway. We generated Huh-7-derived cell lines resistant to brefeldin A (BFA), which is an inhibitor of this pathway. The resistant cell lines could be sorted into two phenotypes regarding BFA-induced toxicity, inhibition of albumin secretion, and inhibition of HCV infection. Two cell lines were more than 100 times more resistant to BFA than the parental Huh-7 cells in these 3 assays. This resistant phenotype was correlated with the presence of a point mutation in the Sec7 domain of GBF1, which is known to impair the binding of BFA. Surprisingly, the morphology of the cis-Golgi of these cells remained sensitive to BFA at concentrations of the drug that allowed albumin secretion, indicating a dichotomy between the phenotypes of secretion and Golgi morphology. Cells of the second group were about 10 times more resistant than parental Huh-7 cells to the BFA-induced toxicity. The EC50 for albumin secretion was only 1.5-1.8 fold higher in these cells than in Huh-7 cells. However their level of secretion in the presence of inhibitory doses of BFA was 5 to 15 times higher. Despite this partially effective secretory pathway in the presence of BFA, the HCV infection was almost as sensitive to BFA as in Huh-7 cells. This suggests that the function of GBF1 in HCV replication does not simply reflect its role of regulator of the secretory pathway of the host cell. Thus, our results confirm the involvement of GBF1 in HCV replication, and suggest that GBF1 might fulfill another function, in addition to the regulation of the secretory pathway, during HCV replication.
PLoS ONE 09/2013; 8(9):e74491. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0074491 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Significant progress has been made in Hepatitis C virus (HCV) culture since the JFH1 strain cloning. However, developing efficient and physiologically relevant culture systems for all viral genotypes remains an important goal. In this work, we aimed at producing a high titer JFH1 derived virus to test different hepatic cells' permissivity. To this end, we performed successive infections and obtained a JFH1 derived virus reaching high titers. Six potential adaptive mutations were identified (I599V in E2, R1373Q and M1611T in NS3, S2364P and C2441S in NS5A and R2523K in NS5B) and the effect of these mutations on HCV replication and infectious particle production was investigated. This cell culture adapted virus enabled us to efficiently infect primary human hepatocytes, as demonstrated using the RFP-NLS-IPS reporter protein and intracellular HCV RNA quantification. However, the induction of a strong type III interferon response in these cells was responsible for HCV inhibition. The disruption of this innate immune response led to a strong infection enhancement and permitted the detection of viral protein expression by western blotting as well as progeny virus production. This cell culture adapted virus also enabled us to easily compare the permissivity of seven hepatoma cell lines. In particular, we demonstrated that HuH-7, HepG2-CD81, PLC/PRF/5 and Hep3B cells were permissive to HCV entry, replication and secretion even if the efficiency was very low in PLC/PRF/5 and Hep3B cells. In contrast, we did not observe any infection of SNU-182, SNU-398 and SNU-449 hepatoma cells. Using iodixanol density gradients, we also demonstrated that the density profiles of HCV particles produced by PLC/PRF/5 and Hep3B cells were different from that of HuH-7 and HepG2-CD81 derived virions. These results will help the development of a physiologically relevant culture system for HCV patient isolates.
PLoS ONE 08/2013; 8(8):e70809. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0070809 · 3.23 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Unlabelled:
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major cause of chronic liver disease. Despite recent success in improving anti-HCV therapy, additional progress is still needed to develop cheaper and interferon (IFN)-free treatments. Here, we report that ferroquine (FQ), an antimalarial ferrocenic analog of chloroquine, is a novel inhibitor of HCV. FQ potently inhibited HCV infection of hepatoma cell lines by affecting an early step of the viral life cycle. The antiviral activity of FQ on HCV entry was confirmed with pseudoparticles expressing HCV envelope glycoproteins E1 and E2 from six different genotypes. In addition to its effect on HCV entry, FQ also inhibited HCV RNA replication, albeit at a higher concentration. We also showed that FQ has no effect on viral assembly and virion secretion. Using a binding assay at 4°C, we showed that FQ does not prevent attachment of the virus to the cell surface. Furthermore, virus internalization was not affected by FQ, whereas the fusion process was impaired in the presence of FQ as shown in a cell-cell fusion assay. Finally, virus with resistance to FQ was selected by sequential passage in the presence of the drug, and resistance was shown to be conferred by a single mutation in E1 glycoprotein (S327A). By inhibiting cell-free virus transmission using a neutralizing antibody, we also showed that FQ inhibits HCV cell-to-cell spread between neighboring cells. Combinations of FQ with IFN, or an inhibitor of HCV NS3/4A protease, also resulted in additive to synergistic activity.
FQ is a novel, interesting anti-HCV molecule that could be used in combination with other direct-acting antivirals.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Coronaviruses are enveloped positive-stranded RNA viruses that replicate in the cytoplasm. To deliver their nucleocapsid into the host cell, they rely on the fusion of their envelope with the host cell membrane. The spike glycoprotein (S) mediates virus entry and is a primary determinant of cell tropism and pathogenesis. It is classified as a class I fusion protein, and is responsible for binding to the receptor on the host cell as well as mediating the fusion of host and viral membranes-A process driven by major conformational changes of the S protein. This review discusses coronavirus entry mechanisms focusing on the different triggers used by coronaviruses to initiate the conformational change of the S protein: receptor binding, low pH exposure and proteolytic activation. We also highlight commonalities between coronavirus S proteins and other class I viral fusion proteins, as well as distinctive features that confer distinct tropism, pathogenicity and host interspecies transmission characteristics to coronaviruses.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) particles are known to be in complex with lipoproteins. As a result of this interaction, the low-density lipoprotein (LDL) receptor (LDLR) has been proposed as a potential entry factor for HCV; however, its implication in virus entry remains unclear. Here, we reinvestigated the role of the LDLR in the HCV life cycle by comparing virus entry to the mechanism of lipoprotein uptake. A small interfering RNA targeting the LDLR in Huh-7 cells reduced HCV infectivity, confirming that this receptor plays a role in the life cycle of HCV generated in cell culture. However, kinetics of internalization were much faster for lipoproteins than for infectious HCV particles. Furthermore, a decrease in HCV RNA replication was observed by blocking the LDLR with a specific antibody, and this was associated with an increase in the ratio of phosphatidylethanolamine to phosphatidylcholine in host cells. Nevertheless, a soluble form of the LDLR inhibited both HCV entry into the hepatocytes and its binding to the LDLR expressed on Chinese hamster ovary cells, suggesting a direct interaction between the HCV particle and the LDLR. Finally, we showed that modification of HCV particles by lipoprotein lipase (LPL) reduces HCV infectivity and increases HCV binding to LDLR. Importantly, LPL treatment also induced an increase in RNA internalization, suggesting that LDLR, at least in some conditions, leads to nonproductive internalization of HCV. Conclusion: The LDLR is not essential for infectious HCV particle entry, whereas the physiological function of this receptor is important for optimal replication of the HCV genome.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Here, we identify (-)-epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) as a new inhibitor of hepatitis C virus (HCV) entry. EGCG is a flavonoid present in green tea extract belonging to the subclass of catechins, which has many properties. Particularly, EGCG possesses antiviral activity and impairs cellular lipid metabolism. Because of close links between HCV life cycle and lipid metabolism, we postulated that EGCG may interfere with HCV infection. We demonstrate that a concentration of 50 μM of EGCG inhibits HCV infectivity by more than 90% at an early step of the viral life cycle, most likely the entry step. This inhibition was not observed with other members of the Flaviviridae family tested. The antiviral activity of EGCG on HCV entry was confirmed with pseudoparticles expressing HCV envelope glycoproteins E1 and E2 from six different genotypes. In addition, using binding assays at 4°C, we demonstrate that EGCG prevents attachment of the virus to the cell surface, probably by acting directly on the particle. We also show that EGCG has no effect on viral replication and virion secretion. By inhibiting cell-free virus transmission using agarose or neutralizing antibodies, we show that EGCG inhibits HCV cell-to-cell spread. Finally, by successive inoculation of naïve cells with supernatant of HCV-infected cells in the presence of EGCG, we observed that EGCG leads to undetectable levels of infection after four passages. CONCLUSION: EGCG is a new, interesting anti-HCV molecule that could be used in combination with other direct-acting antivirals. Furthermore, it is a novel tool to further dissect the mechanisms of HCV entry into the hepatocyte.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a small enveloped virus with a positive stranded RNA genome belonging to the Flaviviridae family. The virion has the unique ability of forming a complex with lipoproteins, which is known as the lipoviroparticle. Lipoprotein components as well as the envelope proteins, E1 and E2, play a key role in virus entry into the hepatocyte. HCV entry is a complex multistep process involving sequential interactions with several cell surface proteins. The virus relies on glycosaminoglycans and possibly the low-density lipoprotein receptors to attach to cells. Furthermore, four specific entry factors are involved in the following steps which lead to virus internalization and fusion in early endosomes. These molecules are the scavenger receptor SRB1, tetraspanin CD81 and two tight junction proteins, Claudin-1 and Occludin. Although they are essential to HCV entry, the precise role of these molecules is not completely understood. Finally, hepatocytes are highly polarized cells and which likely affects the entry process. Our current knowledge on HCV entry is summarized in this review.
Central European Journal of Biology 12/2011; 6(6). DOI:10.2478/s11535-011-0076-y · 0.71 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infected patients undergoing liver transplantation universally experience rapid reinfection of their new liver graft. Current treatment protocols do not prevent graft reinfection and, in addition, an accelerated disease progression is observed. In the present study, we have evaluated a novel strategy to prevent HCV infection using a lectin, griffithsin (GRFT) that specifically binds N-linked high-mannose oligosaccharides that are present on the viral envelope. The antiviral effect of GRFT was evaluated in vitro using the HCV pseudoparticle (HCVpp) and HCV cell culture (HCVcc) systems. We show here that preincubation of HCVpp and HCVcc with GRFT prevents infection of Huh-7 hepatoma cells. Furthermore, GRFT interferes with direct cell-to-cell transmission of HCV. GRFT acts at an early phase of the viral life cycle by interfering in a genotype-independent fashion with the interaction between the viral envelope proteins and the viral receptor CD81. The capacity of GRFT to prevent infection in vivo was evaluated using uPA(+/+)-SCID mice (uPA stands for urokinase-type plasminogen activator) that harbor human primary hepatocytes in their liver (chimeric mice). In this proof-of-concept trial, we demonstrated that GRFT can mitigate HCV infection of chimeric mice. Treated animals that did become infected demonstrated a considerable delay in the kinetics of the viral infection. Our data demonstrate that GRFT can prevent HCV infection in vitro and mitigate HCV infection in vivo. GRFT treatment of chronically infected HCV patients undergoing liver transplantation may be a suitable strategy to prevent infection of the liver allograft.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Endospanin-1 is a negative regulator of the cell surface expression of leptin receptor (OB-R), and endospanin-2 is a homologue of unknown function. We investigated the mechanism for endospanin-1 action in regulating OB-R cell surface expression. Here we show that endospanin-1 and -2 are small integral membrane proteins that localize in endosomes and the trans-Golgi network. Antibody uptake experiments showed that both endospanins are transported to the plasma membrane and then internalized into early endosomes but do not recycle back to the trans-Golgi network. Overexpression of endospanin-1 or endospanin-2 led to a decrease of OB-R cell surface expression, whereas shRNA-mediated depletion of each protein increased OB-R cell surface expression. This increased cell surface expression was not observed with OB-Ra mutants defective in endocytosis or with transferrin and EGF receptors. Endospanin-1 or endospanin-2 depletion did not change the internalization rate of OB-Ra but slowed down its lysosomal degradation. Thus, both endospanins are regulators of postinternalization membrane traffic of the endocytic pathway of OB-R.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Proteolytic priming is a common method of controlling the activation of membrane fusion mediated by viral glycoproteins. The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus spike protein (SARS-CoV S) can be primed by a variety of host cell proteases, with proteolytic cleavage occurring both as the S1/S2 boundary and adjacent to a fusion peptide in the S2 domain. Here, we studied the priming of SARS-CoV S by elastase and show an important role for residue Thr(795) in the S2 domain. A series of alanine mutants were generated in the vicinity of the S2 cleavage site, with the goal of examining elastase-mediated cleavage within S2. Both proteolytic cleavage and fusion activation were modulated by altering the cleavage site position. We propose a novel mechanism whereby SARS-CoV fusion protein function can be controlled by spatial regulation of the proteolytic priming site, with important implications for viral pathogenesis.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The S2 domain of the coronavirus spike (S) protein is known to be responsible for mediating membrane fusion. In addition to a well-recognized cleavage site at the S1-S2 boundary, a second proteolytic cleavage site has been identified in the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) S2 domain (R797). C-terminal to this S2 cleavage site is a conserved region flanked by cysteine residues C822 and C833. Here, we investigated the importance of this well conserved region for SARS-CoV S-mediated fusion activation. We show that the residues between C822-C833 are well conserved across all coronaviruses. Mutagenic analysis of SARS-CoV S, combined with cell-cell fusion and pseudotyped virion infectivity assays, showed a critical role for the core-conserved residues C822, D830, L831, and C833. Based on available predictive models, we propose that the conserved domain flanked by cysteines 822 and 833 forms a loop structure that interacts with components of the SARS-CoV S trimer to control the activation of membrane fusion.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Many viral fusion proteins are primed by proteolytic cleavage near their fusion peptides. While the coronavirus (CoV) spike
(S) protein is known to be cleaved at the S1/S2 boundary, this cleavage site is not closely linked to a fusion peptide. However,
a second cleavage site has been identified in the severe acute respiratory syndrome CoV (SARS-CoV) S2 domain (R797). Here,
we investigated whether this internal cleavage of S2 exposes a viral fusion peptide. We show that the residues immediately
C-terminal to the SARS-CoV S2 cleavage site SFIEDLLFNKVTLADAGF are very highly conserved across all CoVs. Mutagenesis studies
of these residues in SARS-CoV S, followed by cell-cell fusion and pseudotyped virion infectivity assays, showed a critical
role for residues L803, L804, and F805 in membrane fusion. Mutation of the most N-terminal residue (S798) had little or no
effect on membrane fusion. Biochemical analyses of synthetic peptides corresponding to the proposed S2 fusion peptide also
showed an important role for this region in membrane fusion and indicated the presence of α-helical structure. We propose
that proteolytic cleavage within S2 exposes a novel internal fusion peptide for SARS-CoV S, which may be conserved across
Journal of Virology 06/2009; 83(15):7411-21. DOI:10.1128/JVI.00079-09 · 4.44 Impact Factor