Publications by authors named "Thomas Pietschmann"

168 Publications

Impaired immune response mediated by prostaglandin E2 promotes severe COVID-19 disease.

PLoS One 2021 4;16(8):e0255335. Epub 2021 Aug 4.

Department of Cardiology and Angiology, Hannover Medical School, Hanover, Germany.

The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus has led to a pandemic with millions of people affected. The present study finds that risk-factors for severe COVID-19 disease courses, i.e. male sex, older age and sedentary life style are associated with higher prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) serum levels in blood samples from unaffected subjects. In COVID-19 patients, PGE2 blood levels are markedly elevated and correlate positively with disease severity. SARS-CoV-2 induces PGE2 generation and secretion in infected lung epithelial cells by upregulating cyclo-oxygenase (COX)-2 and reducing the PG-degrading enzyme 15-hydroxyprostaglandin-dehydrogenase. Also living human precision cut lung slices (PCLS) infected with SARS-CoV-2 display upregulated COX-2. Regular exercise in aged individuals lowers PGE2 serum levels, which leads to increased Paired-Box-Protein-Pax-5 (PAX5) expression, a master regulator of B-cell survival, proliferation and differentiation also towards long lived memory B-cells, in human pre-B-cell lines. Moreover, PGE2 levels in serum of COVID-19 patients lowers the expression of PAX5 in human pre-B-cell lines. The PGE2 inhibitor Taxifolin reduces SARS-CoV-2-induced PGE2 production. In conclusion, SARS-CoV-2, male sex, old age, and sedentary life style increase PGE2 levels, which may reduce the early anti-viral defense as well as the development of immunity promoting severe disease courses and multiple infections. Regular exercise and Taxifolin treatment may reduce these risks and prevent severe disease courses.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0255335PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8336874PMC
August 2021

A condensate-hardening drug blocks RSV replication in vivo.

Nature 2021 Jul 7;595(7868):596-599. Epub 2021 Jul 7.

Helmholtz International Lab for Anti-Infectives, State Key Laboratory of Microbial Technology, Microbial Technology Institute, Shandong University, Qingdao, P. R. China.

Biomolecular condensates have emerged as an important subcellular organizing principle. Replication of many viruses, including human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), occurs in virus-induced compartments called inclusion bodies (IBs) or viroplasm. IBs of negative-strand RNA viruses were recently shown to be biomolecular condensates that form through phase separation. Here we report that the steroidal alkaloid cyclopamine and its chemical analogue A3E inhibit RSV replication by disorganizing and hardening IB condensates. The actions of cyclopamine and A3E were blocked by a point mutation in the RSV transcription factor M2-1. IB disorganization occurred within minutes, which suggests that these molecules directly act on the liquid properties of the IBs. A3E and cyclopamine inhibit RSV in the lungs of infected mice and are condensate-targeting drug-like small molecules that have in vivo activity. Our data show that condensate-hardening drugs may enable the pharmacological modulation of not only many previously undruggable targets in viral replication but also transcription factors at cancer-driving super-enhancers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41586-021-03703-zDOI Listing
July 2021

Reverse genetics systems for contemporary isolates of respiratory syncytial virus enable rapid evaluation of antibody escape mutants.

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2021 Apr;118(14)

Research Center for Emerging Infections and Zoonoses, University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover, 30559 Hannover, Germany;

Human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the leading cause of acute lower respiratory infection in children under 5 y of age. In the absence of a safe and effective vaccine and with limited options for therapeutic interventions, uncontrolled epidemics of RSV occur annually worldwide. Existing RSV reverse genetics systems have been predominantly based on older laboratory-adapted strains such as A2 or Long. These strains are not representative of currently circulating genotypes and have a convoluted passage history, complicating their use in studies on molecular determinants of viral pathogenesis and intervention strategies. In this study, we have generated reverse genetics systems for clinical isolates of RSV-A (ON1, 0594 strain) and RSV-B (BA9, 9671 strain) in which the full-length complementary DNA (cDNA) copy of the viral antigenome is cloned into a bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC). Additional recombinant (r) RSVs were rescued expressing enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP), mScarlet, or NanoLuc luciferase from an additional transcription unit inserted between the P and M genes. Mutations in antigenic site II of the F protein conferring escape from palivizumab neutralization (K272E, K272Q, S275L) were investigated using quantitative cell-fusion assays and rRSVs via the use of BAC recombineering protocols. These mutations enabled RSV-A and -B to escape palivizumab neutralization but had differential impacts on cell-to-cell fusion, as the S275L mutation resulted in an almost-complete ablation of syncytium formation. These reverse genetics systems will facilitate future cross-validation efficacy studies of novel RSV therapeutic intervention strategies and investigations into viral and host factors necessary for virus entry and cell-to-cell spread.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2026558118DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8040649PMC
April 2021

Initial HCV infection of adult hepatocytes triggers a temporally structured transcriptional program containing diverse pro- and anti-viral elements.

J Virol 2021 Mar 3. Epub 2021 Mar 3.

Division of Veterinary Medicine, Paul Ehrlich Institute, Langen, Germany

Transcriptional profiling provides global snapshots of virus-mediated cellular reprogramming, which can simultaneously encompass pro- and antiviral components. To determine early transcriptional signatures associated with HCV infection of authentic target cells, we performed ex vivo infections of adult primary human hepatocytes (PHHs) from seven donors. Longitudinal sampling identified minimal gene dysregulation at six hours post infection (hpi). In contrast, at 72 hpi, massive increases in the breadth and magnitude of HCV-induced gene dysregulation were apparent, affecting gene classes associated with diverse biological processes. Comparison with HCV-induced transcriptional dysregulation in Huh-7.5 cells identified limited overlap between the two systems. Of note, in PHHs, HCV infection initiated broad upregulation of canonical interferon (IFN)-mediated defense programs, limiting viral RNA replication and abrogating virion release. We further find that constitutive expression of in PHHs maintains a steady-state antiviral program in the absence of infection, which can additionally reduce HCV RNA translation and replication. We also detected infection-induced downregulation of ∼90 genes encoding components of the EIF2 translation initiation complex and ribosomal subunits in PHHs, consistent with a signature of translational shutoff. As HCV polyprotein translation occurs independently of the EIF2 complex, this process is likely pro-viral: only translation initiation of host transcripts is arrested. The combination of antiviral intrinsic and inducible immunity, balanced against pro-viral programs, including translational arrest, maintains HCV replication at a low-level in PHHs. This may ultimately keep HCV under the radar of extra-hepatocyte immune surveillance while initial infection is established, promoting tolerance, preventing clearance and facilitating progression to chronicity.Acute HCV infections are often asymptomatic and therefore frequently undiagnosed. We endeavored to recreate this understudied phase of HCV infection using explanted PHHs and monitored host responses to initial infection. We detected temporally distinct virus-induced perturbations in the transcriptional landscape, which were initially narrow but massively amplified in breadth and magnitude over time. At 72 hpi, we detected dysregulation of diverse gene programs, concurrently promoting both virus clearance and virus persistence. On the one hand, baseline expression of combined with infection-induced upregulation of IFN-mediated effector genes suppresses virus propagation. On the other, we detect transcriptional signatures of host translational inhibition, which likely reduces processing of IFN-regulated gene transcripts and facilitates virus survival. Together, our data provide important insights into constitutive and virus-induced transcriptional programs in PHHs, and identifies simultaneous antagonistic dysregulation of pro-and anti-viral programs which may facilitate host tolerance and promote viral persistence.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.00245-21DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8139656PMC
March 2021

Hepatitis C reference viruses highlight potent antibody responses and diverse viral functional interactions with neutralising antibodies.

Gut 2021 Sep 15;70(9):1734-1745. Epub 2020 Dec 15.

Experimental Virology, TWINCORE Center of Experimental and Clinical Infection Research, Hannover, Germany

Objective: Neutralising antibodies are key effectors of infection-induced and vaccine-induced immunity. Quantification of antibodies' breadth and potency is critical for understanding the mechanisms of protection and for prioritisation of vaccines. Here, we used a unique collection of human specimens and HCV strains to develop HCV reference viruses for quantification of neutralising antibodies, and to investigate viral functional diversity.

Design: We profiled neutralisation potency of polyclonal immunoglobulins from 104 patients infected with HCV genotype (GT) 1-6 across 13 HCV strains representing five viral GTs. Using metric multidimensional scaling, we plotted HCV neutralisation onto neutralisation maps. We employed K-means clustering to guide virus clustering and selecting representative strains.

Results: Viruses differed greatly in neutralisation sensitivity, with J6 (GT2a) being most resistant and SA13 (GT5a) being most sensitive. They mapped to six distinct neutralisation clusters, in part composed of viruses from different GTs. There was no correlation between viral neutralisation and genetic distance, indicating functional neutralisation clustering differs from sequence-based clustering. Calibrating reference viruses representing these clusters against purified antibodies from 496 patients infected by GT1 to GT6 viruses readily identified individuals with extraordinary potent and broadly neutralising antibodies. It revealed comparable antibody cross-neutralisation and diversity between specimens from diverse viral GTs, confirming well-balanced reporting of HCV cross-neutralisation across highly diverse human samples.

Conclusion: Representative isolates from six neutralisation clusters broadly reconstruct the functional HCV neutralisation space. They enable high resolution profiling of HCV neutralisation and they may reflect viral functional and antigenic properties important to consider in HCV vaccine design.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/gutjnl-2020-321190DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8355883PMC
September 2021

Liver-expressed and limit hepatitis C virus cross-species transmission to mice.

Sci Adv 2020 Nov 4;6(45). Epub 2020 Nov 4.

School of Life Sciences, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) has no animal reservoir, infecting only humans. To investigate species barrier determinants limiting infection of rodents, murine liver complementary DNA library screening was performed, identifying transmembrane proteins Cd302 and Cr1l as potent restrictors of HCV propagation. Combined ectopic expression in human hepatoma cells impeded HCV uptake and cooperatively mediated transcriptional dysregulation of a noncanonical program of immunity genes. Murine hepatocyte expression of both factors was constitutive and not interferon inducible, while differences in liver expression and the ability to restrict HCV were observed between the murine orthologs and their human counterparts. Genetic ablation of endogenous expression in human HCV entry factor transgenic mice increased hepatocyte permissiveness for an adapted HCV strain and dysregulated expression of metabolic process and host defense genes. These findings highlight human-mouse differences in liver-intrinsic antiviral immunity and facilitate the development of next-generation murine models for preclinical testing of HCV vaccine candidates.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/sciadv.abd3233DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7673688PMC
November 2020

OCIAD1 is a host mitochondrial substrate of the hepatitis C virus NS3-4A protease.

PLoS One 2020 22;15(7):e0236447. Epub 2020 Jul 22.

Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Lausanne University Hospital and University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland.

The hepatitis C virus (HCV) nonstructural protein 3-4A (NS3-4A) protease is a key component of the viral replication complex and the target of protease inhibitors used in current clinical practice. By cleaving and thereby inactivating selected host factors it also plays a role in the persistence and pathogenesis of hepatitis C. Here, we describe ovarian cancer immunoreactive antigen domain containing protein 1 (OCIAD1) as a novel cellular substrate of the HCV NS3-4A protease. OCIAD1 was identified by quantitative proteomics involving stable isotopic labeling using amino acids in cell culture coupled with mass spectrometry. It is a poorly characterized membrane protein believed to be involved in cancer development. OCIAD1 is cleaved by the NS3-4A protease at Cys 38, close to a predicted transmembrane segment. Cleavage was observed in heterologous expression systems, the replicon and cell culture-derived HCV systems, as well as in liver biopsies from patients with chronic hepatitis C. NS3-4A proteases from diverse hepacivirus species efficiently cleaved OCIAD1. The subcellular localization of OCIAD1 on mitochondria was not altered by NS3-4A-mediated cleavage. Interestingly, OCIAD2, a homolog of OCIAD1 with a cysteine residue in a similar position and identical subcellular localization, was not cleaved by NS3-4A. Domain swapping experiments revealed that the sequence surrounding the cleavage site as well as the predicted transmembrane segment contribute to substrate selectivity. Overexpression as well as knock down and rescue experiments did not affect the HCV life cycle in vitro, raising the possibility that OCIAD1 may be involved in the pathogenesis of hepatitis C in vivo.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0236447PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7375614PMC
September 2020

Controlled Functional Zonation of Hepatocytes by Engineering of Wnt Signaling.

ACS Synth Biol 2020 07 6;9(7):1638-1649. Epub 2020 Jul 6.

Model Systems for Infection and Immunity, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, 38124 Braunschweig, Germany.

Key liver functions, including protein synthesis, carbohydrate metabolism, and detoxification, are performed by specific populations of hepatocytes that are defined by their relative positions within the liver lobules. On a molecular level, the functional heterogeneity with periportal and pericentral phenotypes, so-called metabolic liver zonation, is mainly established by a gradient of canonical Wnt signaling activity. Since the relevant physiological cues are missing in liver models, they fail to reflect the functional heterogeneity and thus lack many liver functions. We synthetically re-engineered Wnt signaling in murine and human hepatocytes using a doxycycline-dependent cassette for externally controlled digital expression of stabilized β-catenin. Thereby, we achieved adjustable mosaic-like activation of Wnt signaling in -cultured hepatocytes that was resistant to negative-feedback loops. This allowed the establishment of long-term-stable periportal-like and pericentral-like phenotypes that mimic the heterogeneity observed . The -zonated hepatocytes show differential expression of drug-metabolizing enzymes and associated differential toxicity and higher levels of autophagy. Furthermore, recombinant adeno-associated virus and hepatitis C virus preferentially transduce the pericentral-like zonation phenotype, suggesting a bias of these viruses that has been unappreciated to date. These tightly controlled -like systems will be important for studies evaluating aspects of liver zonation and for the assessment of drug toxicity for mouse and man.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acssynbio.9b00435DOI Listing
July 2020

The ATGL lipase cooperates with ABHD5 to mobilize lipids for hepatitis C virus assembly.

PLoS Pathog 2020 06 15;16(6):e1008554. Epub 2020 Jun 15.

Institute of Experimental Virology, TWINCORE, Centre for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research; a joint venture between the Medical School Hannover (MHH) and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI), Hannover, Germany.

Lipid droplets are essential cellular organelles for storage of fatty acids and triglycerides. The hepatitis C virus (HCV) translocates several of its proteins onto their surface and uses them for production of infectious progeny. We recently reported that the lipid droplet-associated α/β hydrolase domain-containing protein 5 (ABHD5/CGI-58) participates in HCV assembly by mobilizing lipid droplet-associated lipids. However, ABHD5 itself has no lipase activity and it remained unclear how ABHD5 mediates lipolysis critical for HCV assembly. Here, we identify adipose triglyceride lipase (ATGL) as ABHD5 effector and new host factor involved in the hepatic lipid droplet degradation as well as in HCV and lipoprotein morphogenesis. Modulation of ATGL protein expression and lipase activity controlled lipid droplet lipolysis and virus production. ABHD4 is a paralog of ABHD5 unable to activate ATGL or support HCV assembly and lipid droplet lipolysis. Grafting ABHD5 residues critical for activation of ATGL onto ABHD4 restored the interaction between lipase and co-lipase and bestowed the pro-viral and lipolytic functions onto the engineered protein. Congruently, mutation of the predicted ABHD5 protein interface to ATGL ablated ABHD5 functions in lipid droplet lipolysis and HCV assembly. Interestingly, minor alleles of ABHD5 and ATGL associated with neutral lipid storage diseases in human, are also impaired in lipid droplet lipolysis and their pro-viral functions. Collectively, these results show that ABHD5 cooperates with ATGL to mobilize triglycerides for HCV infectious virus production. Moreover, viral manipulation of lipid droplet homeostasis via the ABHD5-ATGL axis, akin to natural genetic variation in these proteins, emerges as a possible mechanism by which chronic HCV infection causes liver steatosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1008554DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7316345PMC
June 2020

Filovirus Antiviral Activity of Cationic Amphiphilic Drugs Is Associated with Lipophilicity and Ability To Induce Phospholipidosis.

Antimicrob Agents Chemother 2020 07 22;64(8). Epub 2020 Jul 22.

Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endocrinology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany

Several cationic amphiphilic drugs (CADs) have been found to inhibit cell entry of filoviruses and other enveloped viruses. Structurally unrelated CADs may have antiviral activity, yet the underlying common mechanism and structure-activity relationship are incompletely understood. We aimed to understand how widespread antiviral activity is among CADs and which structural and physico-chemical properties are linked to entry inhibition. We measured inhibition of Marburg virus pseudoparticle (MARVpp) cell entry by 45 heterogeneous and mostly FDA-approved CADs and cytotoxicity in EA.hy926 cells. We analyzed correlation of antiviral activity with four chemical properties: pKa, hydrophobicity (octanol/water partitioning coefficient; ClogP), molecular weight, and distance between the basic group and hydrophobic ring structures. Additionally, we quantified drug-induced phospholipidosis (DIPL) of a CAD subset by flow cytometry. Structurally similar compounds (derivatives) and those with similar chemical properties but unrelated structures (analogues) to those of strong inhibitors were obtained by two similarity search approaches and tested for antiviral activity. Overall, 11 out of 45 (24%) CADs inhibited MARVpp by 40% or more. The strongest antiviral compounds were dronedarone, triparanol, and quinacrine. Structure-activity relationship studies revealed highly significant correlations between antiviral activity, hydrophobicity (ClogP > 4), and DIPL. Moreover, pKa and intramolecular distance between hydrophobic and hydrophilic moieties correlated with antiviral activity but to a lesser extent. We also showed that in contrast to analogues, derivatives had antiviral activity similar to that of the seed compound dronedarone. Overall, one-quarter of CADs inhibit MARVpp entry , and antiviral activity of CADs mostly relies on their hydrophobicity yet is promoted by the individual structure.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AAC.00143-20DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7526846PMC
July 2020

Single-nucleotide variants in human CD81 influence hepatitis C virus infection of hepatoma cells.

Med Microbiol Immunol 2020 Aug 22;209(4):499-514. Epub 2020 Apr 22.

Institute for Experimental Virology, TWINCORE, Centre for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research, a joint venture between the Medical School Hannover and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Feodor-Lynen-Straße 7, 30625, Hannover, Germany.

An estimated number of 71 million people are living with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection worldwide and 400,000 annual deaths are related to the infection. HCV entry into the hepatocytes is complex and involves several host factors. The tetraspanin human CD81 (hCD81) is one of the four essential entry factors and is composed of one large extracellular loop, one small extracellular loop, four transmembrane domains, one intracellular loop and two intracellular tails. The large extracellular loop interacts with the E2 glycoprotein of HCV. Regions outside the large extracellular loop (backbone) of hCD81 have a critical role in post-binding entry steps and determine susceptibility of hepatocytes to HCV. Here, we investigated the effect of five non-synonymous single-nucleotide variants in the backbone of hCD81 on HCV susceptibility. We generated cell lines that stably express the hCD81 variants and infected the cells using HCV pseudoparticles and cell culture-derived HCV. Our results show that all the tested hCD81 variants support HCV pseudoparticle entry with similar efficiency as wild-type hCD81. In contrast, variants A54V, V211M and M220I are less supportive to cell culture-derived HCV infection. This altered susceptibility is HCV genotype dependent and specifically affected the cell entry step. Our findings identify three hCD81 genetic variants that are impaired in their function as HCV host factors for specific viral genotypes. This study provides additional evidence that genetic host variation contributes to inter-individual differences in HCV infection and outcome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00430-020-00675-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7176029PMC
August 2020

C19orf66 is an interferon-induced inhibitor of HCV replication that restricts formation of the viral replication organelle.

J Hepatol 2020 09 12;73(3):549-558. Epub 2020 Apr 12.

Institute of Experimental Virology, TWINCORE Centre for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research, a joint venture between the Medical School Hannover (MHH) and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI), Hannover, Germany; Faculty of Medicine, Department for Molecular and Medical Virology, Ruhr University Bochum, Bochum, Germany. Electronic address:

Background & Aims: HCV is a positive-strand RNA virus that primarily infects human hepatocytes. Recent studies have reported that C19orf66 is expressed as an interferon (IFN)-stimulated gene; however, the intrinsic regulation of this gene within the liver as well as its antiviral effects against HCV remain elusive.

Methods: Expression of C19orf66 was quantified in both liver biopsies and primary human hepatocytes, with or without HCV infection. Mechanistic studies of the potent anti-HCV phenotype mediated by C19orf66 were conducted using state-of-the-art virological, biochemical and genetic approaches, as well as correlative light and electron microscopy and transcriptome and proteome analysis.

Results: Upregulation of C19orf66 mRNA was observed in both primary human hepatocytes upon HCV infection and in the livers of patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC). In addition, pegIFNα/ribavirin therapy induced C19orf66 expression in patients with CHC. Transcriptomic profiling and whole cell proteomics of hepatoma cells ectopically expressing C19orf66 revealed no induction of other antiviral genes. Expression of C19orf66 restricted HCV infection, whereas CRIPSPR/Cas9 mediated knockout of C19orf66 attenuated IFN-mediated suppression of HCV replication. Co-immunoprecipitation followed by mass spectrometry identified a stress granule protein-dominated interactome of C19orf66. Studies with subgenomic HCV replicons and an expression system revealed that C19orf66 expression impairs HCV-induced elevation of phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate, alters the morphology of the viral replication organelle (termed the membranous web) and thereby targets viral RNA replication.

Conclusion: C19orf66 is an IFN-stimulated gene, which is upregulated in hepatocytes within the first hours post IFN treatment or HCV infection in vivo. The encoded protein possesses specific antiviral activity against HCV and targets the formation of the membranous web. Our study identifies C19orf66 as an IFN-inducible restriction factor with a novel antiviral mechanism that specifically targets HCV replication.

Lay Summary: Interferon-stimulated genes are thought to be important to for antiviral immune responses to HCV. Herein, we analysed C19orf66, an interferon-stimulated gene, which appears to inhibit HCV replication. It prevents the HCV-induced elevation of phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate and alters the morphology of HCV's replication organelle.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhep.2020.03.047DOI Listing
September 2020

Labyrinthopeptins as virolytic inhibitors of respiratory syncytial virus cell entry.

Antiviral Res 2020 05 18;177:104774. Epub 2020 Mar 18.

Institute for Experimental Virology, TWINCORE, Centre for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research, Hannover, Germany; German Centre of Infection Research (DZIF), Partner Site Hannover-Braunschweig, Germany; Cluster of Excellence RESIST (EXC 2155), Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany. Electronic address:

Acute lower respiratory tract infections (ALRI) caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) are associated with a severe disease burden among infants and elderly patients. Treatment options are limited. While numerous drug candidates with different viral targets are under development, the utility of RSV entry inhibitors is challenged by a low resistance barrier and by single mutations causing cross-resistance against a wide spectrum of fusion inhibitor chemotypes. We developed a cell-based screening assay for discovery of compounds inhibiting infection with primary RSV isolates. Using this system, we identified labyrinthopeptin A1 and A2 (Laby A1/A2), lantibiotics isolated from Actinomadura namibiensis, as effective RSV cell entry inhibitors with ICs of 0.39 μM and 4.97 μM, respectively, and with favourable therapeutic index (>200 and > 20, respectively). Both molecules were active against multiple RSV strains including primary isolates and their antiviral activity against RSV was confirmed in primary human airway cells ex vivo and a murine model in vivo. Laby A1/A2 were antiviral in prophylactic and therapeutic treatment regimens and displayed synergistic activity when applied in combination with each other. Mechanistic studies showed that Laby A1/A2 exert virolytic activity likely by binding to phosphatidylethanolamine moieties within the viral membrane and by disrupting virus particle membrane integrity. Probably due to its specific mode of action, Laby A1/A2 antiviral activity was not affected by common resistance mutations to known RSV entry inhibitors. Taken together, Laby A1/A2 represent promising candidates for development as RSV inhibitors. Moreover, the cell-based screening system with primary RSV isolates described here should be useful to identify further antiviral agents.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.antiviral.2020.104774DOI Listing
May 2020

Efficient acute and chronic infection of stem cell-derived hepatocytes by hepatitis C virus.

Gut 2020 09 29;69(9):1659-1666. Epub 2020 Feb 29.

Institute of Experimental Virology, Twincore, Hannover, Germany

Objective And Design: Human stem cell-derived hepatocyte-like cells (HLCs) have shown high potential as authentic model for dissection of the HCV life cycle and virus-induced pathogenesis. However, modest HCV replication, possibly due to robust innate immune responses, limits their broader use. To overcome these limitations and to dissect the mechanisms responsible for control of HCV, we analysed expression of key components of the interferon (IFN) system in HLCs, assessed permissiveness for different HCV strains and blocked innate immune signalling by pharmacological intervention.

Results: Transcriptional profiling revealed that HLCs constitutively express messenger RNA of RLRs, and members of the IFN pathway. Moreover, HLCs upregulated IFNs and canonical interferon-regulated genes (IRGs) upon transfection with the double-stranded RNA mimic poly(I:C). Infection of HLCs with Jc1-HCVcc produced only limited viral progeny. In contrast, infection with p100, a Jc1-derived virus population with enhanced replication fitness and partial resistance to IFN, resulted in robust yet transient viraemia. Viral titres declined concomitant with a peak of IRG induction. Addition of ruxolitinib, a JAK/STAT inhibitor, permitted chronic infection and raised p100 infectious virus titres to 1×10 FFU/mL. IRGs expression profiling in infected HLCs revealed a landscape of HCV-dependent transcriptional changes similar to HCV-infected primary human hepatocytes, but distinct from Huh-7.5 cells. Withdrawal of ruxolitinib restored innate immune responses and resulted in HCV clearance.

Conclusion: This authentic human cell model is well suited to examine acute and chronic host-HCV interactions, particularly IFN-triggered antiviral effector functions and mechanisms of innate immune control of HCV infection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/gutjnl-2019-319354DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7456736PMC
September 2020

Protecting-Group-Mediated Diastereoselective Synthesis of C4'-Methylated Uridine Analogs and Their Activity against the Human Respiratory Syncytial Virus.

J Org Chem 2020 03 26;85(6):4267-4278. Epub 2020 Feb 26.

Technische Universität Braunschweig, Institute for Organic Chemistry, Hagenring 30, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany.

Adjusting the protecting group strategy, from an alkyl ether to a bidentate ketal at the carbohydrate backbone of uridine, facilitates a switchable diastereoselective α- or β-C4'/C5'-spirocyclopropanation. Using these spirocyclopropanated nucleosides as key intermediates, we synthesized a variety of C4'-methylated d-ribose and l-lyxose-configured uridine derivatives by a base-mediated ring-opening of the spirocyclopropanol moiety. Investigations of antiviral activity against the human respiratory syncytial virus were carried out for selected derivatives, showing moderate activity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.joc.9b03425DOI Listing
March 2020

Labyrinthopeptins Exert Broad-Spectrum Antiviral Activity through Lipid-Binding-Mediated Virolysis.

J Virol 2020 01 6;94(2). Epub 2020 Jan 6.

Department of Chemical Biology, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Braunschweig, Germany

To counteract the serious health threat posed by known and novel viral pathogens, drugs that target a variety of viruses through a common mechanism have attracted recent attention due to their potential in treating (re)emerging infections, for which direct-acting antivirals are not available. We found that labyrinthopeptins A1 and A2, the prototype congeners of carbacyclic lanthipeptides, inhibit the proliferation of diverse enveloped viruses, including dengue virus, Zika virus, West Nile virus, hepatitis C virus, chikungunya virus, Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus, cytomegalovirus, and herpes simplex virus, in the low micromolar to nanomolar range. Mechanistic studies on viral particles revealed that labyrinthopeptins induce a virolytic effect through binding to the viral membrane lipid phosphatidylethanolamine (PE). These effects are enhanced by a combined equimolar application of both labyrinthopeptins, and a clear synergism was observed across a concentration range corresponding to 10% to 90% inhibitory concentrations of the compounds. Time-resolved experiments with large unilamellar vesicles (LUVs) reveal that membrane lipid raft compositions (phosphatidylcholine [PC]/PE/cholesterol/sphingomyelin at 17:10:33:40) are particularly sensitive to labyrinthopeptins in comparison to PC/PE (90:10) LUVs, even though the overall PE amount remains constant. Labyrinthopeptins exhibited low cytotoxicity and had favorable pharmacokinetic properties in mice (half-life [ ] = 10.0 h), which designates them promising antiviral compounds acting by an unusual viral lipid targeting mechanism. For many viral infections, current treatment options are insufficient. Because the development of each antiviral drug is time-consuming and expensive, the prospect of finding broad-spectrum antivirals that can fight multiple, diverse viruses-well-known viruses as well as (re)emerging species-has gained attention, especially for the treatment of viral coinfections. While most known broad-spectrum agents address processes in the host cell, we found that targeting lipids of the free virus outside the host cell with the natural products labyrinthopeptin A1 and A2 is a viable strategy to inhibit the proliferation of a broad range of viruses from different families, including chikungunya virus, dengue virus, Zika virus, Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus, and cytomegalovirus. Labyrinthopeptins bind to viral phosphatidylethanolamine and induce virolysis without exerting cytotoxicity on host cells. This represents a novel and unusual mechanism to tackle medically relevant viral infections.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/JVI.01471-19DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6955271PMC
January 2020

Physicochemical Properties Govern the Activity of Potent Antiviral Flavones.

ACS Omega 2019 Mar 5;4(3):4871-4887. Epub 2019 Mar 5.

Université de Strasbourg, Université de Haute-Alsace, CNRS, LIMA, UMR 7042, Equipe Chimie Bioorganique et Médicinale, ECPM, 25 Rue Becquerel, 67000 Strasbourg, France.

Ladanein (i.e., 5,6,7-trihydroxylated flavone) was demonstrated to act as a powerful virucidal agent toward a broad range of enveloped virus particles. Fe(III) coordination and pH are indeed among the key parameters that might favor both bioactivation of the flavone and consequent host cell entry inhibition. In this present work, the impact of fluorinated groups on the physicochemical and antiviral properties of the flavone was investigated, thus allowing a deeper understanding of the antiviral mode of action. The improved synthesis of ladanein allowed accessing a broad range of analogues, some of them being significantly more active than the former ladanein lead compound. We first determined the acido-basic properties of this homogenous series of compounds and then investigated their electrochemical behavior. Fe(III) coordination properties (stability, spectral behavior, and kinetics) of ladanein and its analogues were then examined (quasiphysiological conditions) and provided key information of their stability and reactivity. Using the determined physicochemical parameters, the critical impact of the iron complexation and medium acidity was confirmed on hepatitis C virus (HCV) particles (pre)treated with ladanein. Finally, a preliminary structure-HCV entry inhibition relationship study evidenced the superior antiviral activity of the ladanein analogues bearing an electron-withdrawing group in para position ( > > > > ) on the B cycle in comparison with the parent ladanein itself.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acsomega.8b03332DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6648324PMC
March 2019

Synthesis of 4'/5'-Spirocyclopropanated Uridine and d-Xylouridine Derivatives and Their Activity against the Human Respiratory Syncytial Virus.

Org Lett 2019 09 21;21(17):6966-6971. Epub 2019 Aug 21.

Institute for Experimental Virology, TWINCORE, Centre for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research; a Joint Venture Between the Medical School Hannover (MHH) and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI), Hannover, Feodor-Lynen-Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany.

The Simmons-Smith-Furukawa reaction was used to generate 4'/5'-spirocyclopropanated uridine analogs from electron-rich exocyclic enol esters. During synthesis, the native hydroxylation pattern of the nucleoside is preserved and offers the possibility for a late stage 5'-phosphorylation at the spirocyclopropanol moiety. All synthesized spirocyclopropanated uridine derivatives, including the corresponding 5'-monophosphate (cpUMP), were evaluated with respect to their antiviral activity in an HRSV assay showing moderate, but promising activity.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1021/acs.orglett.9b02555DOI Listing
September 2019

Hepatitis C Virus Entry: Protein Interactions and Fusion Determinants Governing Productive Hepatocyte Invasion.

Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med 2020 02 3;10(2). Epub 2020 Feb 3.

TWINCORE, Center for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research, Institute for Experimental Virology, 30625 Hannover, Germany.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) entry is among the best-studied uptake processes for human pathogenic viruses. Uptake follows a spatially and temporally tightly controlled program. Numerous host factors including proteins, lipids, and glycans promote productive uptake of HCV particles into human liver cells. The virus initially attaches to surface proteoglycans, lipid receptors such as the scavenger receptor BI (SR-BI), and to the tetraspanin CD81. After lateral translocation of virions to tight junctions, claudin-1 (CLDN1) and occludin (OCLN) are essential for entry. Clathrin-mediated endocytosis engulfs HCV particles, which fuse with endosomal membranes after pH drop. Uncoating of the viral RNA genome in the cytoplasm completes the entry process. Here we systematically review and classify HCV entry factors by their mechanistic role, relevance, and level of evidence. Finally, we report on more recent knowledge on determinants of membrane fusion and close with an outlook on future implications of HCV entry research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1101/cshperspect.a036830DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6996445PMC
February 2020

Identification of Keratin 23 as a Hepatitis C Virus-Induced Host Factor in the Human Liver.

Cells 2019 06 18;8(6). Epub 2019 Jun 18.

Ruhr University Bochum, Faculty of Medicine, Department for Molecular and Medical Virology, 44801 Bochum, Germany.

Keratin proteins form intermediate filaments, which provide structural support for many tissues. Multiple keratin family members are reported to be associated with the progression of liver disease of multiple etiologies. For example, keratin 23 (KRT23) was reported as a stress-inducible protein, whose expression levels correlate with the severity of liver disease. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a human pathogen that causes chronic liver diseases including fibrosis, cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. However, a link between KRT23 and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection has not been reported previously. In this study, we investigated KRT23 mRNA levels in datasets from liver biopsies of chronic hepatitis C (CHC) patients and in primary human hepatocytes experimentally infected with HCV, in addition to hepatoma cells. Interestingly, in each of these specimens, we observed an HCV-dependent increase of mRNA levels. Importantly, the KRT23 protein levels in patient plasma decreased upon viral clearance. Ectopic expression of KRT23 enhanced HCV infection; however, CRIPSPR/Cas9-mediated knockout did not show altered replication efficiency. Taken together, our study identifies KRT23 as a novel, virus-induced host-factor for hepatitis C virus.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cells8060610DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6628310PMC
June 2019

Characterization of the Filovirus-Resistant Cell Line SH-SY5Y Reveals Redundant Role of Cell Surface Entry Factors.

Viruses 2019 03 19;11(3). Epub 2019 Mar 19.

Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endocrinology, Hannover Medical School, 30625 Hannover, Germany.

Filoviruses infect a wide range of cell types with the exception of lymphocytes. The intracellular proteins cathepsin B and L, two-pore channel 1 and 2, and bona fide receptor Niemann⁻Pick Disease C1 (NPC1) are essential for the endosomal phase of cell entry. However, earlier steps of filoviral infection remain poorly characterized. Numerous plasma membrane proteins have been implicated in attachment but it is still unclear which ones are sufficient for productive entry. To define a minimal set of host factors required for filoviral glycoprotein-driven cell entry, we screened twelve cell lines and identified the nonlymphocytic cell line SH-SY5Y to be specifically resistant to filovirus infection. Heterokaryons of SH-SY5Y cells fused to susceptible cells were susceptible to filoviruses, indicating that SH-SY5Y cells do not express a restriction factor but lack an enabling factor critical for filovirus entry. However, all tested cell lines expressed functional intracellular factors. Global gene expression profiling of known cell surface entry factors and protein expression levels of analyzed attachment factors did not reveal any correlation between susceptibility and expression of a specific host factor. Using binding assays with recombinant filovirus glycoprotein, we identified cell attachment as the step impaired in filovirus entry in SH-SY5Y cells. Individual overexpression of attachment factors T-cell immunoglobulin and mucin domain 1 (TIM-1), Axl, Mer, or dendritic cell-specific intercellular adhesion molecule-3-grabbing non-integrin (DC-SIGN) rendered SH-SY5Y cells susceptible to filovirus glycoprotein-driven transduction. Our study reveals that a lack of attachment factors limits filovirus entry and provides direct experimental support for a model of filoviral cell attachment where host factor usage at the cell surface is highly promiscuous.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/v11030275DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6466046PMC
March 2019

HCV Pit Stop at the Lipid Droplet: Refuel Lipids and Put on a Lipoprotein Coat before Exit.

Cells 2019 03 12;8(3). Epub 2019 Mar 12.

Institute of Experimental Virology, TWINCORE, Centre for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research, a Joint Venture between the Medical School Hannover (MHH) and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI), 30625 Hannover, Germany.

The replication cycle of the liver-tropic hepatitis C virus (HCV) is tightly connected to the host lipid metabolism, during the virus entry, replication, assembly and egress stages, but also while the virus circulates in the bloodstream. This interplay coins viral particle properties, governs viral cell tropism, and facilitates immune evasion. This review summarizes our knowledge of these interactions focusing on the late steps of the virus replication cycle. It builds on our understanding of the cell biology of lipid droplets and the biosynthesis of liver lipoproteins and attempts to explain how HCV hijacks these organelles and pathways to assemble its lipo-viro-particles. In particular, this review describes (i) the mechanisms of viral protein translocation to and from the lipid droplet surface and the orchestration of an interface between replication and assembly complexes, (ii) the importance of the triglyceride mobilization from the lipid droplets for HCV assembly, (iii) the interplay between HCV and the lipoprotein synthesis pathway including the role played by apolipoproteins in virion assembly, and finally (iv) the consequences of these complex virus⁻host interactions on the virion composition and its biophysical properties. The wealth of data accumulated in the past years on the role of the lipid metabolism in HCV assembly and its imprint on the virion properties will guide vaccine design efforts and reinforce our understanding of the hepatic lipid metabolism in health and disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cells8030233DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6468556PMC
March 2019

A central hydrophobic E1 region controls the pH range of hepatitis C virus membrane fusion and susceptibility to fusion inhibitors.

J Hepatol 2019 06 13;70(6):1082-1092. Epub 2019 Feb 13.

Institute of Experimental Virology, TWINCORE, Centre for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research, a joint venture between the Medical School Hannover (MHH) and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI), Feodor-Lynen-Str. 7, 30625 Hannover, Germany; German Center for Infection Research (DZIF), Partner Site Hannover-Braunschweig, 30625 Hannover, Germany. Electronic address:

Background & Aims: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection causes chronic liver disease. Antivirals have been developed and cure infection. However, resistance can emerge and salvage therapies with alternative modes of action could be useful. Several licensed drugs have emerged as HCV entry inhibitors and are thus candidates for drug repurposing. We aimed to dissect their mode of action, identify improved derivatives and determine their viral targets.

Methods: HCV entry inhibition was tested for a panel of structurally related compounds, using chimeric viruses representing diverse genotypes, in addition to viruses containing previously determined resistance mutations. Chemical modeling and synthesis identified improved derivatives, while generation of susceptible and non-susceptible chimeric viruses pinpointed E1 determinants of compound sensitivity.

Results: Molecules of the diphenylpiperazine, diphenylpiperidine, phenothiazine, thioxanthene, and cycloheptenepiperidine chemotypes inhibit HCV infection by interfering with membrane fusion. These molecules and a novel p-methoxy-flunarizine derivative with improved efficacy preferentially inhibit genotype 2 viral strains. Viral residues within a central hydrophobic region of E1 (residues 290-312) control susceptibility. At the same time, viral features in this region also govern pH-dependence of viral membrane fusion.

Conclusions: Small molecules from different chemotypes related to flunarizine preferentially inhibit HCV genotype 2 membrane fusion. A hydrophobic region proximal to the putative fusion loop controls sensitivity to these drugs and the pH range of membrane fusion. An algorithm considering viral features in this region predicts viral sensitivity to membrane fusion inhibitors. Resistance to flunarizine correlates with more relaxed pH requirements for fusion.

Lay Summary: This study describes diverse compounds that act as HCV membrane fusion inhibitors. It defines viral properties that determine sensitivity to these molecules and thus provides information to identify patients that may benefit from treatment with membrane fusion inhibitors.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhep.2019.01.033DOI Listing
June 2019

Hepatitis C Virus.

Trends Microbiol 2019 04 29;27(4):379-380. Epub 2019 Jan 29.

Division of Experimental Virology, Twincore Center for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research, Feodor-Lynen-Straße 7-9, 30625 Hannover, Germany.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an enveloped, RNA virus transmitted through blood-to-blood contact. It infects humans only and primarily targets liver cells. HCV evades innate and adaptive immunity and establishes chronic infections in 70% of cases. If untreated, 20% of patients develop liver cirrhosis, and a fraction of these progress to hepatocellular carcinoma. Annually, 400000 patients die globally due to HCV infection. Direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) are licensed and target three viral proteins: the NS3-4A protease needed for processing the viral polyprotein, the NS5A phosphoprotein that regulates RNA replication and virus assembly, and the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (NS5B) that catalyzes genome replication. Combination therapies cure more than 95% of treated patients. Approximately 71 million people are chronically infected and 1.7 million new infections occur annually. Treatment-induced cure does not protect from viral reinfection. A prophylactic vaccine is under development.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tim.2019.01.001DOI Listing
April 2019

Functional and immunogenic characterization of diverse HCV glycoprotein E2 variants.

J Hepatol 2019 04 13;70(4):593-602. Epub 2018 Nov 13.

Institute of Experimental Virology, TWINCORE, Centre for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research; a Joint Venture between the Medical School Hannover (MHH) and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI), Hannover, Germany; German Centre for Infection Research (DZIF), partner site Hannover-Braunschweig, Germany. Electronic address:

Background & Aims: Induction of cross-reactive antibodies targeting conserved epitopes of the envelope proteins E1E2 is a key requirement for an hepatitis C virus vaccine. Conserved epitopes like the viral CD81-binding site are targeted by rare broadly neutralizing antibodies. However, these viral segments are occluded by variable regions and glycans. We aimed to identify antigens exposing conserved epitopes and to characterize their immunogenicity.

Methods: We created hepatitis C virus variants with mutated glycosylation sites and/or hypervariable region 1 (HVR1). Exposure of the CD81 binding site and conserved epitopes was quantified by soluble CD81 and antibody interaction and neutralization assays. E2 or E1-E2 heterodimers with mutations causing epitope exposure were used to immunize mice. Vaccine-induced antibodies were examined and compared with patient-derived antibodies.

Results: Mutant viruses bound soluble CD81 and antibodies targeting the CD81 binding site with enhanced efficacy. Mice immunized with E2 or E1E2 heterodimers incorporating these modifications mounted strong, cross-binding, and non-interfering antibodies. E2-induced antibodies neutralized the autologous virus but they were not cross-neutralizing.

Conclusions: Viruses lacking the HVR1 and selected glycosylation sites expose the CD81 binding site and cross-neutralization antibody epitopes. Recombinant E2 proteins carrying these modifications induce strong cross-binding but not cross-neutralizing antibodies.

Lay Summary: Conserved viral epitopes can be made considerably more accessible for binding of potently neutralizing antibodies by deletion of hypervariable region 1 and selected glycosylation sites. Recombinant E2 proteins carrying these mutations are unable to elicit cross-neutralizing antibodies suggesting that exposure of conserved epitopes is not sufficient to focus antibody responses on production of cross-neutralizing antibodies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhep.2018.11.003DOI Listing
April 2019

The Small-Compound Inhibitor K22 Displays Broad Antiviral Activity against Different Members of the Family Flaviviridae and Offers Potential as a Panviral Inhibitor.

Antimicrob Agents Chemother 2018 11 24;62(11). Epub 2018 Oct 24.

Institute of Virology and Immunology, Bern and Mittelhäusern, Switzerland

The virus family encompasses several viruses, including (re)emerging viruses which cause widespread morbidity and mortality throughout the world. Members of this virus family are positive-strand RNA viruses and replicate their genome in close association with reorganized intracellular host cell membrane compartments. This evolutionarily conserved strategy facilitates efficient viral genome replication and contributes to evasion from host cell cytosolic defense mechanisms. We have previously described the identification of a small-compound inhibitor, K22, which exerts a potent antiviral activity against a broad range of coronaviruses by targeting membrane-bound viral RNA replication. To analyze the antiviral spectrum of this inhibitor, we assessed the inhibitory potential of K22 against several members of the family, including the reemerging Zika virus (ZIKV). We show that ZIKV is strongly affected by K22. Time-of-addition experiments revealed that K22 acts during a postentry phase of the ZIKV life cycle, and combination regimens of K22 together with ribavirin (RBV) or interferon alpha (IFN-α) further increased the extent of viral inhibition. Ultrastructural electron microscopy studies revealed severe alterations of ZIKV-induced intracellular replication compartments upon infection of K22-treated cells. Importantly, the antiviral activity of K22 was demonstrated against several other members of the family. It is tempting to speculate that K22 exerts its broad antiviral activity against several positive-strand RNA viruses via a similar mechanism and thereby represents an attractive candidate for development as a panviral inhibitor.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/AAC.01206-18DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6201103PMC
November 2018

Hepatitis C virus enters liver cells using the CD81 receptor complex proteins calpain-5 and CBLB.

PLoS Pathog 2018 07 19;14(7):e1007111. Epub 2018 Jul 19.

Insitute for Experimental Virology, TWINCORE, Centre for Experimental and Clinical Infection Research, a joint venture between the Medical School Hannover and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research, Hannover, Germany.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and the malaria parasite Plasmodium use the membrane protein CD81 to invade human liver cells. Here we mapped 33 host protein interactions of CD81 in primary human liver and hepatoma cells using high-resolution quantitative proteomics. In the CD81 protein network, we identified five proteins which are HCV entry factors or facilitators including epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Notably, we discovered calpain-5 (CAPN5) and the ubiquitin ligase Casitas B-lineage lymphoma proto-oncogene B (CBLB) to form a complex with CD81 and support HCV entry. CAPN5 and CBLB were required for a post-binding and pre-replication step in the HCV life cycle. Knockout of CAPN5 and CBLB reduced susceptibility to all tested HCV genotypes, but not to other enveloped viruses such as vesicular stomatitis virus and human coronavirus. Furthermore, Plasmodium sporozoites relied on a distinct set of CD81 interaction partners for liver cell entry. Our findings reveal a comprehensive CD81 network in human liver cells and show that HCV and Plasmodium highjack selective CD81 interactions, including CAPN5 and CBLB for HCV, to invade cells.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1007111DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6053247PMC
July 2018
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