skip to main content
OSTI.GOV title logo U.S. Department of Energy
Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Title: Furin cleavage of the SARS coronavirus spike glycoprotein enhances cell-cell fusion but does not affect virion entry

Abstract

The fusogenic potential of Class I viral envelope glycoproteins is activated by proteloytic cleavage of the precursor glycoprotein to generate the mature receptor-binding and transmembrane fusion subunits. Although the coronavirus (CoV) S glycoproteins share membership in this class of envelope glycoproteins, cleavage to generate the respective S1 and S2 subunits appears absent in a subset of CoV species, including that responsible for the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). To determine whether proteolytic cleavage of the S glycoprotein might be important for the newly emerged SARS-CoV, we introduced a furin recognition site at single basic residues within the putative S1-S2 junctional region. We show that furin cleavage at the modified R667 position generates discrete S1 and S2 subunits and potentiates membrane fusion activity. This effect on the cell-cell fusion activity by the S glycoprotein is not, however, reflected in the infectivity of pseudotyped lentiviruses bearing the cleaved glycoprotein. The lack of effect of furin cleavage on virion infectivity mirrors that observed in the normally cleaved S glycoprotein of the murine coronavirus and highlights an additional level of complexity in coronavirus entry.

Authors:
 [1];  [1];  [2]
  1. Montana Biotechnology Center, Science Complex Room 221, University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812 (United States)
  2. Montana Biotechnology Center, Science Complex Room 221, University of Montana, Missoula, MT 59812 (United States). E-mail: jack.nunberg@umontana.edu
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
20850527
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Virology; Journal Volume: 350; Journal Issue: 2; Other Information: DOI: 10.1016/j.virol.2006.02.003; PII: S0042-6822(06)00090-0; Copyright (c) 2006 Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, Netherlands, All rights reserved; Country of input: International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
60 APPLIED LIFE SCIENCES; CLEAVAGE; GLYCOPROTEINS; INFECTIVITY; MEMBRANES; MUTAGENESIS; RECEPTORS; VIRAL DISEASES; VIRUSES

Citation Formats

Follis, Kathryn E., York, Joanne, and Nunberg, Jack H. Furin cleavage of the SARS coronavirus spike glycoprotein enhances cell-cell fusion but does not affect virion entry. United States: N. p., 2006. Web. doi:10.1016/j.virol.2006.02.003.
Follis, Kathryn E., York, Joanne, & Nunberg, Jack H. Furin cleavage of the SARS coronavirus spike glycoprotein enhances cell-cell fusion but does not affect virion entry. United States. doi:10.1016/j.virol.2006.02.003.
Follis, Kathryn E., York, Joanne, and Nunberg, Jack H. 2006. "Furin cleavage of the SARS coronavirus spike glycoprotein enhances cell-cell fusion but does not affect virion entry". United States. doi:10.1016/j.virol.2006.02.003.
@article{osti_20850527,
title = {Furin cleavage of the SARS coronavirus spike glycoprotein enhances cell-cell fusion but does not affect virion entry},
author = {Follis, Kathryn E. and York, Joanne and Nunberg, Jack H.},
abstractNote = {The fusogenic potential of Class I viral envelope glycoproteins is activated by proteloytic cleavage of the precursor glycoprotein to generate the mature receptor-binding and transmembrane fusion subunits. Although the coronavirus (CoV) S glycoproteins share membership in this class of envelope glycoproteins, cleavage to generate the respective S1 and S2 subunits appears absent in a subset of CoV species, including that responsible for the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). To determine whether proteolytic cleavage of the S glycoprotein might be important for the newly emerged SARS-CoV, we introduced a furin recognition site at single basic residues within the putative S1-S2 junctional region. We show that furin cleavage at the modified R667 position generates discrete S1 and S2 subunits and potentiates membrane fusion activity. This effect on the cell-cell fusion activity by the S glycoprotein is not, however, reflected in the infectivity of pseudotyped lentiviruses bearing the cleaved glycoprotein. The lack of effect of furin cleavage on virion infectivity mirrors that observed in the normally cleaved S glycoprotein of the murine coronavirus and highlights an additional level of complexity in coronavirus entry.},
doi = {10.1016/j.virol.2006.02.003},
journal = {Virology},
number = 2,
volume = 350,
place = {United States},
year = 2006,
month = 7
}
  • The SARS-coronavirus (SARS-CoV) is the etiological agent of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The SARS-CoV spike (S) glycoprotein mediates membrane fusion events during virus entry and virus-induced cell-to-cell fusion. The cytoplasmic portion of the S glycoprotein contains four cysteine-rich amino acid clusters. Individual cysteine clusters were altered via cysteine-to-alanine amino acid replacement and the modified S glycoproteins were tested for their transport to cell-surfaces and ability to cause cell fusion in transient transfection assays. Mutagenesis of the cysteine cluster I, located immediately proximal to the predicted transmembrane, domain did not appreciably reduce cell-surface expression, although S-mediated cell fusion wasmore » reduced by more than 50% in comparison to the wild-type S. Similarly, mutagenesis of the cysteine cluster II located adjacent to cluster I reduced S-mediated cell fusion by more than 60% compared to the wild-type S, while cell-surface expression was reduced by less than 20%. Mutagenesis of cysteine clusters III and IV did not appreciably affect S cell-surface expression or S-mediated cell fusion. The wild-type S was palmitoylated as evidenced by the efficient incorporation of {sup 3}H-palmitic acid in wild-type S molecules. S glycoprotein palmitoylation was significantly reduced for mutant glycoproteins having cluster I and II cysteine changes, but was largely unaffected for cysteine cluster III and IV mutants. These results show that the S cytoplasmic domain is palmitoylated and that palmitoylation of the membrane proximal cysteine clusters I and II may be important for S-mediated cell fusion.« less
  • The coronavirus spike glycoprotein is a class I membrane fusion protein with two characteristic heptad repeat regions (HR1 and HR2) in its ectodomain. Here, we report the X-ray structure of a previously characterized HR1/HR2 complex of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus spike protein. As expected, the HR1 and HR2 segments are organized in antiparallel orientations within a rod-like molecule. The HR1 helices form an exceptionally long (120 A) internal coiled coil stabilized by hydrophobic and polar interactions. A striking arrangement of conserved asparagine and glutamine residues of HR1 propagates from two central chloride ions, providing hydrogen-bonding 'zippers' that stronglymore » constrain the path of the HR2 main chain, forcing it to adopt an extended conformation at either end of a short HR2 {alpha}-helix.« less
  • Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) poses a considerable threat to human health. Activation of the viral spike (S)-protein by host cell proteases is essential for viral infectivity. However, the cleavage sites in SARS-S and the protease(s) activating SARS-S are incompletely defined. We found that R667 was dispensable for SARS-S-driven virus-cell fusion and for SARS-S-activation by trypsin and cathepsin L in a virus-virus fusion assay. Mutation T760R, which optimizes the minimal furin consensus motif 758-RXXR-762, and furin overexpression augmented SARS-S activity, but did not result in detectable SARS-S cleavage. Finally, SARS-S-driven cell-cell fusion was independent of cathepsin L, a proteasemore » essential for virus-cell fusion. Instead, a so far unknown leupeptin-sensitive host cell protease activated cellular SARS-S for fusion with target cells expressing high levels of ACE2. Thus, different host cell proteases activate SARS-S for virus-cell and cell-cell fusion and SARS-S cleavage at R667 and 758-RXXR-762 can be dispensable for SARS-S activation.« less
  • The molecular mechanism of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV, human herpesvirus 8) entry is poorly understood. We tested a broad variety of cell types of diverse species and tissue origin for their ability to function as targets in a quantitative reporter gene assay for KSHV-glycoprotein-mediated cell fusion. Several human, non-human primate, and rabbit cell lines were efficient targets, whereas rodent and all human lymphoblastoid cell lines were weak targets. Parallel findings were obtained with a virion entry assay using a recombinant KSHV encoding a reporter gene. No correlation was observed between target cell activity and surface expression of {alpha}3{beta}1 integrin, amore » proposed KSHV receptor. We hypothesize that target cell permissiveness in both the cell fusion and virion entry assays reflects the presence of a putative KSHV fusion-entry receptor.« less
  • The spike (S) protein of SARS coronavirus (SARS-CoV) has been known to recognize and bind to host receptors, whose conformational changes then facilitate fusion between the viral envelope and host cell membrane, leading to viral entry into target cells. However, other functions of SARS-CoV S protein such as proteolytic cleavage and its implications to viral infection are incompletely understood. In this study, we demonstrated that the infection of SARS-CoV and a pseudovirus bearing the S protein of SARS-CoV was inhibited by a protease inhibitor Ben-HCl. Also, the protease Factor Xa, a target of Ben-HCl abundantly expressed in infected cells, wasmore » able to cleave the recombinant and pseudoviral S protein into S1 and S2 subunits, and the cleavage was inhibited by Ben-HCl. Furthermore, this cleavage correlated with the infectivity of the pseudovirus. Taken together, our study suggests a plausible mechanism by which SARS-CoV cleaves its S protein to facilitate viral infection.« less