Bachelor of Science, University of California Berkeley (2005)
Doctor of Philosophy, University of California Berkeley (2011)
Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is an alphaherpesvirus that causes varicella and herpes zoster. Membrane fusion is essential for VZV entry and the distinctive syncytium formation in VZV-infected skin and neuronal tissue. Herpesvirus fusion is mediated by a complex of glycoproteins gB and gH-gL, which are necessary and sufficient for VZV to induce membrane fusion. However, the cellular requirements of fusion are poorly understood. Integrins have been implicated to facilitate entry of several human herpesviruses, but their role in VZV entry has not yet been explored. To determine the involvement of integrins in VZV fusion, a quantitative cell-cell fusion assay was developed using a VZV-permissive melanoma cell line. The cells constitutively expressed a reporter protein and short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) to knock down the expression of integrin subunits shown to be expressed in these cells by RNA sequencing. The αV integrin subunit was identified as mediating VZV gB/gH-gL fusion, as its knockdown by shRNAs reduced fusion levels to 60% of that of control cells. A comparable reduction in fusion levels was observed when an anti-αV antibody specific to its extracellular domain was tested in the fusion assay, confirming that the domain was important for VZV fusion. In addition, reduced spread was observed in αV knockdown cells infected with the VZV pOka strain relative to that of the control cells. This was demonstrated by reductions in plaque size, replication kinetics, and virion entry in the αV subunit knockdown cells. Thus, the αV integrin subunit is important for VZV gB/gH-gL fusion and infection.Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is a highly infectious pathogen that causes chickenpox and shingles. A common complication of shingles is the excruciating condition called postherpetic neuralgia, which has proven difficult to treat. While a vaccine is now available, it is not recommended for immunocompromised individuals and its efficacy decreases with the recipient's age. These limitations highlight the need for new therapies. This study examines the role of integrins in membrane fusion mediated by VZV glycoproteins gB and gH-gL, a required process for VZV infection. This knowledge will further the understanding of VZV entry and provide insight into the development of better therapies.
View details for DOI 10.1128/JVI.00792-16
View details for PubMedID 27279620
Varicella-zoster virus (VZV), of the family Alphaherpesvirinae, causes varicella in children and young adults, potentially leading to herpes zoster later in life on reactivation from latency. The conserved herpesvirus glycoprotein gB and the heterodimer gHgL mediate virion envelope fusion with cell membranes during virus entry. Naturally occurring neutralizing antibodies against herpesviruses target these entry proteins. To determine the molecular basis for VZV neutralization, crystal structures of gHgL were determined in complex with fragments of antigen binding (Fabs) from two human monoclonal antibodies, IgG-94 and IgG-RC, isolated from seropositive subjects. These structures reveal that the antibodies target the same site, composed of residues from both gH and gL, distinct from two other neutralizing epitopes identified by negative-stain electron microscopy and mutational analysis. Inhibition of gB/gHgL-mediated membrane fusion and structural comparisons with herpesvirus homologs suggest that the IgG-RC/94 epitope is in proximity to the site on VZV gHgL that activates gB. Immunization studies proved that the anti-gHgL IgG-RC/94 epitope is a critical target for antibodies that neutralize VZV. Thus, the gHgL/Fab structures delineate a site of herpesvirus vulnerability targeted by natural immunity.
View details for DOI 10.1073/pnas.1501176112
View details for Web of Science ID 000354390600062
View details for PubMedID 25918416