Qinghong Zeng

Universiteit Utrecht, Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands

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Publications (4)34.47 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: [This corrects the article on p. e1002492 in vol. 8.].
    No preview · Article · Feb 2012 · PLoS Pathogens
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    ABSTRACT: The hemagglutinin-esterases (HEs), envelope glycoproteins of corona-, toro- and orthomyxoviruses, mediate reversible virion attachment to O-acetylated sialic acids (O-Ac-Sias). They do so through concerted action of distinct receptor-binding ("lectin") and receptor-destroying sialate O-acetylesterase ("esterase") domains. Most HEs target 9-O-acetylated Sias. In one lineage of murine coronaviruses, however, HE esterase substrate and lectin ligand specificity changed dramatically as these viruses evolved to use 4-O-acetylated Sias instead. Here we present the crystal structure of the lectin domain of mouse hepatitis virus (MHV) strain S HE, resolved both in its native state and in complex with a receptor analogue. The data show that the shift from 9-O- to 4-O-Ac-Sia receptor usage primarily entailed a change in ligand binding topology and, surprisingly, only modest changes in receptor-binding site architecture. Our findings illustrate the ease with which viruses can change receptor-binding specificity with potential consequences for host-, organ and/or cell tropism, and for pathogenesis.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2012 · PLoS Pathogens
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    ABSTRACT: Hemagglutinin esterases (HEs), closely related envelope glycoproteins in influenza C and corona- and toroviruses, mediate reversible attachment to O-acetylated sialic acids (Sias). They do so by acting both as lectins and as receptor-destroying enzymes, functions exerted by separate protein domains. HE divergence was accompanied by changes in quaternary structure and in receptor and substrate specificity. The selective forces underlying HE diversity and the molecular basis for Sia specificity are poorly understood. Here we present crystal structures of porcine and bovine torovirus HEs in complex with receptor analogs. Torovirus HEs form homodimers with sialate-O-acetylesterase domains almost identical to corresponding domains in orthomyxo- and coronavirus HEs, but with unique lectin sites. Structure-guided biochemical analysis of the esterase domains revealed that a functionally, but not structurally conserved arginine-Sia carboxylate interaction is critical for the binding and positioning of glycosidically bound Sias in the catalytic pocket. Although essential for efficient de-O-acetylation of Sias, this interaction is not required for catalysis nor does it affect substrate specificity. In fact, the distinct preference of the porcine torovirus enzyme for 9-mono- over 7,9-di-O-acetylated Sias can be explained from a single-residue difference with HEs of more promiscuous specificity. Apparently, esterase and lectin pockets coevolved; also the porcine torovirus HE receptor-binding site seems to have been designed to use 9-mono- and exclude di-O-acetylated Sias, possibly as an adaptation to replication in swine. Our findings shed light on HE evolution and provide fundamental insight into mechanisms of substrate binding, substrate recognition, and receptor selection in this important class of virion proteins.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2009 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
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    ABSTRACT: The hemagglutinin-esterases (HEs) are a family of viral envelope glycoproteins that mediate reversible attachment to O-acetylated sialic acids by acting both as lectins and as receptor-destroying enzymes (RDEs). Related HEs occur in influenza C, toro-, and coronaviruses, apparently as a result of relatively recent lateral gene transfer events. Here, we report the crystal structure of a coronavirus (CoV) HE in complex with its receptor. We show that CoV HE arose from an influenza C-like HE fusion protein (HEF). In the process, HE was transformed from a trimer into a dimer, whereas remnants of the fusion domain were adapted to establish novel monomer-monomer contacts. Whereas the structural design of the RDE-acetylesterase domain remained unaltered, the HE receptor-binding domain underwent remodeling to such extent that the ligand is now bound in opposite orientation. This is surprising, because the architecture of the HEF site was preserved in influenza A HA over a much larger evolutionary distance, a switch in receptor specificity and extensive antigenic variation notwithstanding. Apparently, HA and HEF are under more stringent selective constraints than HE, limiting their exploration of alternative binding-site topologies. We attribute the plasticity of the CoV HE receptor-binding site to evolutionary flexibility conferred by functional redundancy between HE and its companion spike protein S. Our findings offer unique insights into the structural and functional consequences of independent protein evolution after interviral gene exchange and open potential avenues to broad-spectrum antiviral drug design.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2008 · Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

Publication Stats

92 Citations
34.47 Total Impact Points


  • 2008-2012
    • Universiteit Utrecht
      • Division of Crystal and Structural Chemistry
      Utrecht, Utrecht, Netherlands