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      Comprehensive Functional Analysis of N-Linked Glycans on Ebola Virus GP1


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          Ebola virus (EBOV) entry requires the virion surface-associated glycoprotein (GP) that is composed of a trimer of heterodimers (GP1/GP2). The GP1 subunit contains two heavily glycosylated domains, the glycan cap and the mucin-like domain (MLD). The glycan cap contains only N-linked glycans, whereas the MLD contains both N- and O-linked glycans. Site-directed mutagenesis was performed on EBOV GP1 to systematically disrupt N-linked glycan sites to gain an understanding of their role in GP structure and function. All 15 N-glycosylation sites of EBOV GP1 could be removed without compromising the expression of GP. The loss of these 15 glycosylation sites significantly enhanced pseudovirion transduction in Vero cells, which correlated with an increase in protease sensitivity. Interestingly, exposing the receptor-binding domain (RBD) by removing the glycan shield did not allow interaction with the endosomal receptor, NPC1, indicating that the glycan cap/MLD domains mask RBD residues required for binding. The effects of the loss of GP1 N-linked glycans on Ca 2+-dependent (C-type) lectin (CLEC)-dependent transduction were complex, and the effect was unique for each of the CLECs tested. Surprisingly, EBOV entry into murine peritoneal macrophages was independent of GP1 N-glycans, suggesting that CLEC-GP1 N-glycan interactions are not required for entry into this important primary cell. Finally, the removal of all GP1 N-glycans outside the MLD enhanced antiserum and antibody sensitivity. In total, our results provide evidence that the conserved N-linked glycans on the EBOV GP1 core protect GP from antibody neutralization despite the negative impact the glycans have on viral entry efficiency.


          Filovirus outbreaks occur sporadically throughout central Africa, causing high fatality rates among the general public and health care workers. These unpredictable hemorrhagic fever outbreaks are caused by multiple species of Ebola viruses, as well as Marburg virus. While filovirus vaccines and therapeutics are being developed, there are no licensed products. The sole viral envelope glycoprotein, which is a principal immunogenic target, contains a heavy shield of glycans surrounding the conserved receptor-binding domain. We find that disruption of this shield through targeted mutagenesis leads to an increase in cell entry, protease sensitivity, and antiserum/antibody sensitivity but is not sufficient to allow virion binding to the intracellular receptor NPC1. Therefore, our studies provide evidence that filoviruses maintain glycoprotein glycosylation to protect against proteases and antibody neutralization at the expense of efficient entry. Our results unveil interesting insights into the unique entry process of filoviruses and potential immune evasion tactics of the virus.

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          Most cited references37

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          Structural basis for distinct ligand-binding and targeting properties of the receptors DC-SIGN and DC-SIGNR.

          Both the dendritic cell receptor DC-SIGN and the closely related endothelial cell receptor DC-SIGNR bind human immunodeficiency virus and enhance infection. However, biochemical and structural comparison of these receptors now reveals that they have very different physiological functions. By screening an extensive glycan array, we demonstrated that DC-SIGN and DC-SIGNR have distinct ligand-binding properties. Our structural and mutagenesis data explain how both receptors bind high-mannose oligosaccharides on enveloped viruses and why only DC-SIGN binds blood group antigens, including those present on microorganisms. DC-SIGN mediates endocytosis, trafficking as a recycling receptor and releasing ligand at endosomal pH, whereas DC-SIGNR does not release ligand at low pH or mediate endocytosis. Thus, whereas DC-SIGN has dual ligand-binding properties and functions both in adhesion and in endocytosis of pathogens, DC-SIGNR binds a restricted set of ligands and has only the properties of an adhesion receptor.
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            Structural basis for selective recognition of oligosaccharides by DC-SIGN and DC-SIGNR.

            Dendritic cell specific intracellular adhesion molecule-3 (ICAM-3) grabbing nonintegrin (DC-SIGN), a C-type lectin present on the surface of dendritic cells, mediates the initial interaction of dendritic cells with T cells by binding to ICAM-3. DC-SIGN and DC-SIGNR, a related receptor found on the endothelium of liver sinusoids, placental capillaries, and lymph nodes, bind to oligosaccharides that are present on the envelope of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), an interaction that strongly promotes viral infection of T cells. Crystal structures of carbohydrate-recognition domains of DC-SIGN and of DC-SIGNR bound to oligosaccharide, in combination with binding studies, reveal that these receptors selectively recognize endogenous high-mannose oligosaccharides and may represent a new avenue for developing HIV prophylactics.
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              Role of endosomal cathepsins in entry mediated by the Ebola virus glycoprotein.

              Using chemical inhibitors and small interfering RNA (siRNA), we have confirmed roles for cathepsin B (CatB) and cathepsin L (CatL) in Ebola virus glycoprotein (GP)-mediated infection. Treatment of Ebola virus GP pseudovirions with CatB and CatL converts GP1 from a 130-kDa to a 19-kDa species. Virus with 19-kDa GP1 displays significantly enhanced infection and is largely resistant to the effects of the CatB inhibitor and siRNA, but it still requires a low-pH-dependent endosomal/lysosomal function. These and other results support a model in which CatB and CatL prime GP by generating a 19-kDa intermediate that can be acted upon by an as yet unidentified endosomal/lysosomal enzyme to trigger fusion.

                Author and article information

                American Society of Microbiology (1752 N St., N.W., Washington, DC )
                28 January 2014
                Jan-Feb 2014
                : 5
                : 1
                : e00862-13
                [ a ]Department of Microbiology, University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa, USA
                [ b ]Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York, USA
                [ c ]Special Pathogens Program, National Microbiology Laboratory, Public Health Agency of Canada, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
                Author notes
                Address correspondence to Wendy Maury, wendy-maury@ 123456uiowa.edu .

                Editor Terence Dermody, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine

                Copyright © 2014 Lennemann et al.

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license, which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

                : 12 October 2013
                : 10 December 2013
                Page count
                Pages: 9
                Research Article
                Custom metadata
                January/February 2014

                Life sciences
                Life sciences


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