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1.
Cells ; 11(7)2022 04 02.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1785537

ABSTRACT

The global burden of malaria and toxoplasmosis has been limited by the use of efficacious anti-parasitic agents, however, emerging resistance in Plasmodium species and Toxoplasma gondii threatens disease control worldwide, implying that new agents/therapeutic targets are urgently needed. Nuclear localization signal (NLS)-dependent transport into the nucleus, mediated by members of the importin (IMP) superfamily of nuclear transporters, has shown potential as a target for intervention to limit viral infection. Here, we show for the first time that IMPα from P. falciparum and T. gondii have promise as targets for small molecule inhibitors. We use high-throughput screening to identify agents able to inhibit P. falciparum IMPα binding to a P. falciparum NLS, identifying a number of compounds that inhibit binding in the µM-nM range, through direct binding to P. falciparum IMPα, as shown in thermostability assays. Of these, BAY 11-7085 is shown to be a specific inhibitor of P. falciparum IMPα-NLS recognition. Importantly, a number of the inhibitors limited growth by both P. falciparum and T. gondii. The results strengthen the hypothesis that apicomplexan IMPα proteins have potential as therapeutic targets to aid in identifying novel agents for two important, yet neglected, parasitic diseases.


Subject(s)
Plasmodium falciparum , alpha Karyopherins , High-Throughput Screening Assays , Nuclear Localization Signals/metabolism , Plasmodium falciparum/drug effects , Plasmodium falciparum/metabolism , Protein Binding , alpha Karyopherins/antagonists & inhibitors
2.
J Virol ; 95(16): e0018721, 2021 07 26.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1486048

ABSTRACT

Subversion of the host cell cycle to facilitate viral replication is a common feature of coronavirus infections. Coronavirus nucleocapsid (N) protein can modulate the host cell cycle, but the mechanistic details remain largely unknown. Here, we investigated the effects of manipulation of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) N protein on the cell cycle and the influence on viral replication. Results indicated that PEDV N induced Vero E6 cell cycle arrest at S-phase, which promoted viral replication (P < 0.05). S-phase arrest was dependent on the N protein nuclear localization signal S71NWHFYYLGTGPHADLRYRT90 and the interaction between N protein and p53. In the nucleus, the binding of N protein to p53 maintained consistently high-level expression of p53, which activated the p53-DREAM pathway. The key domain of the N protein interacting with p53 was revealed to be S171RGNSQNRGNNQGRGASQNRGGNN194 (NS171-N194), in which G183RG185 are core residues. NS171-N194 and G183RG185 were essential for N-induced S-phase arrest. Moreover, small molecular drugs targeting the NS171-N194 domain of the PEDV N protein were screened through molecular docking. Hyperoside could antagonize N protein-induced S-phase arrest by interfering with interaction between N protein and p53 and inhibit viral replication (P < 0.05). The above-described experiments were also validated in porcine intestinal cells, and data were in line with results in Vero E6 cells. Therefore, these results reveal the PEDV N protein interacts with p53 to activate the p53-DREAM pathway, and subsequently induces S-phase arrest to create a favorable environment for virus replication. These findings provide new insight into the PEDV-host interaction and the design of novel antiviral strategies against PEDV. IMPORTANCE Many viruses subvert the host cell cycle to create a cellular environment that promotes viral growth. PEDV, an emerging and reemerging coronavirus, has led to substantial economic loss in the global swine industry. Our study is the first to demonstrate that PEDV N-induced cell cycle arrest during the S-phase promotes viral replication. We identified a novel mechanism of PEDV N-induced S-phase arrest, where the binding of PEDV N protein to p53 maintains consistently high levels of p53 expression in the nucleus to mediate S-phase arrest by activating the p53-DREAM pathway. Furthermore, a small molecular compound, hyperoside, targeted the PEDV N protein, interfering with the interaction between the N protein and p53 and, importantly, inhibited PEDV replication by antagonizing cell cycle arrest. This study reveals a new mechanism of PEDV-host interaction and also provides a novel antiviral strategy for PEDV. These data provide a foundation for further research into coronavirus-host interactions.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/chemistry , Host-Pathogen Interactions/drug effects , Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus/drug effects , Quercetin/analogs & derivatives , Tumor Suppressor Protein p53/chemistry , Amino Acid Sequence , Animals , Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Binding Sites , Cell Line , Chlorocebus aethiops , Coronavirus Infections/drug therapy , Coronavirus Infections/genetics , Coronavirus Infections/metabolism , Coronavirus Infections/virology , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/antagonists & inhibitors , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/genetics , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/metabolism , Epithelial Cells/drug effects , Epithelial Cells/virology , Gene Expression Regulation , High-Throughput Screening Assays , Host-Pathogen Interactions/genetics , Molecular Docking Simulation , Nuclear Localization Signals , Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus/genetics , Porcine epidemic diarrhea virus/metabolism , Protein Binding , Protein Conformation , Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs , Quercetin/chemistry , Quercetin/pharmacology , S Phase Cell Cycle Checkpoints/drug effects , S Phase Cell Cycle Checkpoints/genetics , Signal Transduction , Swine , Swine Diseases/drug therapy , Swine Diseases/genetics , Swine Diseases/metabolism , Swine Diseases/virology , Tumor Suppressor Protein p53/antagonists & inhibitors , Tumor Suppressor Protein p53/genetics , Tumor Suppressor Protein p53/metabolism , Vero Cells , Virus Replication/drug effects
3.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 118(29)2021 07 20.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1307383

ABSTRACT

Understanding the trends in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) evolution is paramount to control the COVID-19 pandemic. We analyzed more than 300,000 high-quality genome sequences of SARS-CoV-2 variants available as of January 2021. The results show that the ongoing evolution of SARS-CoV-2 during the pandemic is characterized primarily by purifying selection, but a small set of sites appear to evolve under positive selection. The receptor-binding domain of the spike protein and the region of the nucleocapsid protein associated with nuclear localization signals (NLS) are enriched with positively selected amino acid replacements. These replacements form a strongly connected network of apparent epistatic interactions and are signatures of major partitions in the SARS-CoV-2 phylogeny. Virus diversity within each geographic region has been steadily growing for the entirety of the pandemic, but analysis of the phylogenetic distances between pairs of regions reveals four distinct periods based on global partitioning of the tree and the emergence of key mutations. The initial period of rapid diversification into region-specific phylogenies that ended in February 2020 was followed by a major extinction event and global homogenization concomitant with the spread of D614G in the spike protein, ending in March 2020. The NLS-associated variants across multiple partitions rose to global prominence in March to July, during a period of stasis in terms of interregional diversity. Finally, beginning in July 2020, multiple mutations, some of which have since been demonstrated to enable antibody evasion, began to emerge associated with ongoing regional diversification, which might be indicative of speciation.


Subject(s)
Adaptation, Physiological/genetics , Evolution, Molecular , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , Amino Acid Substitution , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/prevention & control , COVID-19/virology , COVID-19 Testing , Coronavirus Nucleocapsid Proteins/genetics , Epistasis, Genetic , Genome, Viral/genetics , Humans , Immune Evasion/genetics , Mutation , Nuclear Localization Signals/genetics , Phosphoproteins/genetics , Phylogeny , Protein Interaction Domains and Motifs/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/classification , Selection, Genetic , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Vaccination
4.
Pharmacol Res Perspect ; 9(4): e00798, 2021 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1269136

ABSTRACT

Therapeutic regimens for the COVID-19 pandemics remain unmet. In this line, repurposing of existing drugs against known or predicted SARS-CoV-2 protein actions have been advanced, while natural products have also been tested. Here, we propose that p-cymene, a natural monoterpene, can act as a potential novel agent for the treatment of SARS-CoV-2-induced COVID-19 and other RNA-virus-induced diseases (influenza, rabies, Ebola). We show by extensive molecular simulations that SARS-CoV-2 C-terminal structured domain contains a nuclear localization signal (NLS), like SARS-CoV, on which p-cymene binds with low micromolar affinity, impairing nuclear translocation of this protein and inhibiting viral replication, as verified by preliminary in vitro experiments. A similar mechanism may occur in other RNA-viruses (influenza, rabies and Ebola), also verified in vitro for influenza, by interaction of p-cymene with viral nucleoproteins, and structural modification of their NLS site, weakening its interaction with importin A. This common mechanism of action renders therefore p-cymene as a possible antiviral, alone, or in combination with other agents, in a broad spectrum of RNA viruses, from SARS-CoV-2 to influenza A infections.


Subject(s)
Antiviral Agents/pharmacology , Cymenes/pharmacology , Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype/physiology , Nucleocapsid Proteins/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/physiology , Animals , Antiviral Agents/chemistry , Cell Nucleus/metabolism , Cell Nucleus/virology , Chlorocebus aethiops , Cymenes/chemistry , Dogs , Humans , Influenza A Virus, H1N1 Subtype/drug effects , Madin Darby Canine Kidney Cells , Models, Molecular , Molecular Dynamics Simulation , Nuclear Localization Signals , Nucleocapsid Proteins/chemistry , Protein Conformation , Protein Domains , Protein Transport , SARS-CoV-2/drug effects , Vero Cells , Virus Replication/drug effects
5.
J Virol ; 95(4)2021 01 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1117221

ABSTRACT

Positive-strand RNA viruses have been the etiological agents in several major disease outbreaks over the last few decades. Examples of this include flaviviruses, such as dengue virus and Zika virus, which cause millions of yearly infections around the globe, and coronaviruses, such as SARS-CoV-2, the source of the current pandemic. The severity of outbreaks caused by these viruses stresses the importance of research aimed at determining methods to limit virus spread and to curb disease severity. Such studies require molecular tools to decipher virus-host interactions and to develop effective treatments. Here, we describe the generation and characterization of a reporter system that can be used to visualize and identify cells infected with dengue virus or SARS-CoV-2. This system is based on viral protease activity that mediates cleavage and nuclear translocation of an engineered fluorescent protein stably expressed in cells. We show the suitability of this system for live cell imaging, for visualization of single infected cells, and for screening and testing of antiviral compounds. With the integrated modular building blocks, this system is easy to manipulate and can be adapted to any virus encoding a protease, thus offering a high degree of flexibility.IMPORTANCE Reporter systems are useful tools for fast and quantitative visualization of virus-infected cells within a host cell population. Here, we describe a reporter system that takes advantage of virus-encoded proteases expressed in infected cells to cleave an ER-anchored fluorescent protein fused to a nuclear localization sequence. Upon cleavage, the GFP moiety translocates to the nucleus, allowing for rapid detection of the infected cells. Using this system, we demonstrate reliable reporting activity for two major human pathogens from the Flaviviridae and the Coronaviridae families: dengue virus and SARS-CoV-2. We apply this reporter system to live cell imaging and use it for proof-of-concept to validate antiviral activity of a nucleoside analogue. This reporter system is not only an invaluable tool for the characterization of viral replication, but also for the discovery and development of antivirals that are urgently needed to halt the spread of these viruses.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/virology , Dengue Virus/isolation & purification , Dengue/virology , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , A549 Cells , Animals , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/metabolism , COVID-19/pathology , Cell Line , Chlorocebus aethiops , Dengue/diagnosis , Dengue/metabolism , Dengue/pathology , Dengue Virus/genetics , Dengue Virus/metabolism , Genes, Reporter , Green Fluorescent Proteins/metabolism , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Nuclear Localization Signals/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Vero Cells , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/metabolism , Virus Replication
6.
J Virol ; 95(4)2021 01 28.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-952556

ABSTRACT

Positive-strand RNA viruses have been the etiological agents in several major disease outbreaks over the last few decades. Examples of this include flaviviruses, such as dengue virus and Zika virus, which cause millions of yearly infections around the globe, and coronaviruses, such as SARS-CoV-2, the source of the current pandemic. The severity of outbreaks caused by these viruses stresses the importance of research aimed at determining methods to limit virus spread and to curb disease severity. Such studies require molecular tools to decipher virus-host interactions and to develop effective treatments. Here, we describe the generation and characterization of a reporter system that can be used to visualize and identify cells infected with dengue virus or SARS-CoV-2. This system is based on viral protease activity that mediates cleavage and nuclear translocation of an engineered fluorescent protein stably expressed in cells. We show the suitability of this system for live cell imaging, for visualization of single infected cells, and for screening and testing of antiviral compounds. With the integrated modular building blocks, this system is easy to manipulate and can be adapted to any virus encoding a protease, thus offering a high degree of flexibility.IMPORTANCE Reporter systems are useful tools for fast and quantitative visualization of virus-infected cells within a host cell population. Here, we describe a reporter system that takes advantage of virus-encoded proteases expressed in infected cells to cleave an ER-anchored fluorescent protein fused to a nuclear localization sequence. Upon cleavage, the GFP moiety translocates to the nucleus, allowing for rapid detection of the infected cells. Using this system, we demonstrate reliable reporting activity for two major human pathogens from the Flaviviridae and the Coronaviridae families: dengue virus and SARS-CoV-2. We apply this reporter system to live cell imaging and use it for proof-of-concept to validate antiviral activity of a nucleoside analogue. This reporter system is not only an invaluable tool for the characterization of viral replication, but also for the discovery and development of antivirals that are urgently needed to halt the spread of these viruses.


Subject(s)
COVID-19/virology , Dengue Virus/isolation & purification , Dengue/virology , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , A549 Cells , Animals , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/metabolism , COVID-19/pathology , Cell Line , Chlorocebus aethiops , Dengue/diagnosis , Dengue/metabolism , Dengue/pathology , Dengue Virus/genetics , Dengue Virus/metabolism , Genes, Reporter , Green Fluorescent Proteins/metabolism , HEK293 Cells , Humans , Nuclear Localization Signals/metabolism , SARS-CoV-2/genetics , SARS-CoV-2/metabolism , Vero Cells , Viral Nonstructural Proteins/metabolism , Virus Replication
7.
J Virol ; 95(3)2021 01 13.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-920894

ABSTRACT

Torovirus (ToV) has recently been classified into the new family Tobaniviridae, although historically, it belonged to the Coronavirus (CoV) family. The nucleocapsid (N) proteins of CoVs are predominantly localized in the cytoplasm, where the viruses replicate, but in some cases the proteins are partially located in the nucleolus. Many studies have investigated the subcellular localization and nucleocytoplasmic trafficking signals of the CoV N proteins, but little is known about ToV N proteins. Here, we studied the subcellular localization of the bovine ToV (BToV) N protein (BToN) and characterized its nucleocytoplasmic trafficking signals. Unlike other CoVs, BToN in infected cells was transported mainly to the nucleolus during early infection but was distributed predominantly in the nucleoplasm rather than in the nucleolus during late infection. Interestingly, a small quantity of BToN was detected in the cytoplasm during infection. Examination of a comprehensive set of substitution or deletion mutants of BToN fused with enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) revealed that clusters of arginine (R) residues comprise nuclear/nucleolar localization signals (NLS/NoLS), and the C-terminal region served as a chromosomal maintenance 1 (CRM1)-independent nuclear export signal (NES). Moreover, recombinant viruses with mutations in the NLS/NoLS, but retaining nuclear accumulation, were successfully rescued and showed slightly reduced growth ability, while the virus that lost the NLS/NoLS-mediated nuclear accumulation of BToN was not rescued. These results indicate that BToN uniquely accumulates mainly in nuclear compartments during infection, regulated by an R-rich NLS/NoLS and a CRM1-independent NES, and that the BToN accumulation in the nuclear compartment driven by NLS/NoLS is important for virus growth.IMPORTANCE ToVs are diarrhea-causing pathogens detected in many species, including humans. BToV has spread worldwide, leading to economic loss, and there is currently no treatment or vaccine available. Positive-stranded RNA viruses, including ToVs, replicate in the cytoplasm, and their structural proteins generally accumulate in the cytoplasm. Interestingly, BToN accumulated predominantly in the nucleus/nucleolus during all infectious processes, with only a small fraction accumulating in the cytoplasm despite being a major structural protein. Furthermore, we identified unique nucleocytoplasmic trafficking signals and demonstrated the importance of NLS/NoLS for virus growth. This study is the first to undertake an in-depth investigation of the subcellular localization and intracellular trafficking signals of BToN. Our findings additionally suggest that the NLS/NoLS-mediated nuclear accumulation of BToN is important for virus replication. An understanding of the unique features of BToV may provide novel insights into the assembly mechanisms of not only ToVs but also other positive-stranded RNA viruses.


Subject(s)
Cell Nucleus/metabolism , Nucleocapsid Proteins/chemistry , Nucleocapsid Proteins/metabolism , Torovirus/physiology , Amino Acid Sequence , Animals , Cell Line , Cell Nucleolus/metabolism , Cytoplasm/metabolism , Humans , Mutation , Nuclear Export Signals , Nuclear Localization Signals , Nucleocapsid Proteins/genetics , Recombinant Fusion Proteins/chemistry , Recombinant Fusion Proteins/genetics , Recombinant Fusion Proteins/metabolism , Torovirus/growth & development , Torovirus/metabolism , Virus Replication/genetics
8.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A ; 117(26): 15193-15199, 2020 06 30.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-595720

ABSTRACT

Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) poses an immediate, major threat to public health across the globe. Here we report an in-depth molecular analysis to reconstruct the evolutionary origins of the enhanced pathogenicity of SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses that are severe human pathogens. Using integrated comparative genomics and machine learning techniques, we identify key genomic features that differentiate SARS-CoV-2 and the viruses behind the two previous deadly coronavirus outbreaks, SARS-CoV and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), from less pathogenic coronaviruses. These features include enhancement of the nuclear localization signals in the nucleocapsid protein and distinct inserts in the spike glycoprotein that appear to be associated with high case fatality rate of these coronaviruses as well as the host switch from animals to humans. The identified features could be crucial contributors to coronavirus pathogenicity and possible targets for diagnostics, prognostication, and interventions.


Subject(s)
Betacoronavirus/genetics , Evolution, Molecular , Genome, Viral , Nucleocapsid Proteins/genetics , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/genetics , Animals , Betacoronavirus/classification , Betacoronavirus/pathogenicity , Host Specificity , Humans , Machine Learning , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/classification , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/genetics , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/pathogenicity , Mutagenesis, Insertional , Nuclear Localization Signals/genetics , Nucleocapsid Proteins/chemistry , Phylogeny , SARS-CoV-2 , Sequence Homology , Spike Glycoprotein, Coronavirus/chemistry , Virulence/genetics
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