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Title: A novel cell-based assay to measure activity of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus nsP2 protease

Abstract

The encephalitic alphaviruses encode nsP2 protease (nsP2pro), which because of its vital role in virus replication, represents an attractive target for therapeutic intervention. To facilitate the discovery of nsP2 inhibitors we have developed a novel assay for quantitative measurement of nsP2pro activity in a cell-based format. The assay is based on a substrate fusion protein consisting of eGFP and Gaussia luciferase (Gluc) linked together by a small peptide containing a VEEV nsp2pro cleavage sequence. The expression of the substrate protein in cells along with recombinant nsP2pro results in cleavage of the substrate protein resulting in extracellular release of free Gluc. The Gluc activity in supernatants corresponds to intracellular nsP2pro-mediated substrate cleavage; thus, providing a simple and convenient way to quantify nsP2pro activity. Here, we demonstrate potential utility of the assay in identification of nsP2pro inhibitors, as well as in investigations related to molecular characterization of nsP2pro. - Highlights: • A novel cell-based assay to measure VEEV nsP2 protease activity was developed. • Assay utility was demonstrated for antiviral screening. • .The assay also proved to be useful in basic mechanistic studies of nsP2 protease.

Authors:
; ; ;
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
22581703
Resource Type:
Journal Article
Resource Relation:
Journal Name: Virology; Journal Volume: 496; Other Information: Copyright (c) 2016 Elsevier Science B.V., Amsterdam, The 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; ENCEPHALITIS; FORMATES; LUCIFERASE; PEPTIDES; SCREENING; SUBSTRATES; VIRUSES

Citation Formats

Campos-Gomez, Javier, Ahmad, Fahim, Rodriguez, Efrain, and Saeed, Mohammad F., E-mail: saeed@southernresearch.org. A novel cell-based assay to measure activity of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus nsP2 protease. United States: N. p., 2016. Web. doi:10.1016/J.VIROL.2016.05.012.
Campos-Gomez, Javier, Ahmad, Fahim, Rodriguez, Efrain, & Saeed, Mohammad F., E-mail: saeed@southernresearch.org. A novel cell-based assay to measure activity of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus nsP2 protease. United States. doi:10.1016/J.VIROL.2016.05.012.
Campos-Gomez, Javier, Ahmad, Fahim, Rodriguez, Efrain, and Saeed, Mohammad F., E-mail: saeed@southernresearch.org. 2016. "A novel cell-based assay to measure activity of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus nsP2 protease". United States. doi:10.1016/J.VIROL.2016.05.012.
@article{osti_22581703,
title = {A novel cell-based assay to measure activity of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus nsP2 protease},
author = {Campos-Gomez, Javier and Ahmad, Fahim and Rodriguez, Efrain and Saeed, Mohammad F., E-mail: saeed@southernresearch.org},
abstractNote = {The encephalitic alphaviruses encode nsP2 protease (nsP2pro), which because of its vital role in virus replication, represents an attractive target for therapeutic intervention. To facilitate the discovery of nsP2 inhibitors we have developed a novel assay for quantitative measurement of nsP2pro activity in a cell-based format. The assay is based on a substrate fusion protein consisting of eGFP and Gaussia luciferase (Gluc) linked together by a small peptide containing a VEEV nsp2pro cleavage sequence. The expression of the substrate protein in cells along with recombinant nsP2pro results in cleavage of the substrate protein resulting in extracellular release of free Gluc. The Gluc activity in supernatants corresponds to intracellular nsP2pro-mediated substrate cleavage; thus, providing a simple and convenient way to quantify nsP2pro activity. Here, we demonstrate potential utility of the assay in identification of nsP2pro inhibitors, as well as in investigations related to molecular characterization of nsP2pro. - Highlights: • A novel cell-based assay to measure VEEV nsP2 protease activity was developed. • Assay utility was demonstrated for antiviral screening. • .The assay also proved to be useful in basic mechanistic studies of nsP2 protease.},
doi = {10.1016/J.VIROL.2016.05.012},
journal = {Virology},
number = ,
volume = 496,
place = {United States},
year = 2016,
month = 9
}
  • The C-terminal protease domain of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) nsP2 has been overexpressed in E. coli, purified and successfully crystallized. Native crystals diffract to beyond 2.5 Å resolution and isomorphous heavy-atom derivatives suitable for phase analysis have been identified. The C-terminal region of Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV) nsP2 is responsible for proteolytic processing of the VEEV polyprotein replication complex. This action regulates the activity of the replication complex and is essential for viral replication, thus making nsP2 a very attractive target for development of VEEV therapeutics. The 338-amino-acid C-terminal region of VEEV nsP2 has been overexpressed in Escherichiamore » coli, purified and crystallized. Crystals diffract to beyond 2.5 Å resolution and belong to the orthorhombic space group P2{sub 1}2{sub 1}2{sub 1}. Isomorphous heavy-atom derivatives suitable for phase analysis have been obtained and work on building a complete structural model is under way.« less
  • Virus envelope proteins determine receptor utilization and host range. The choice of receptor not only permits specific targeting of cells that express it, but also directs the virus into specific endosomal trafficking pathways. Disrupting trafficking can result in loss of virus infectivity due to redirection of virions to non-productive pathways. Identification of the pathway or pathways used by a virus is, thus, important in understanding virus pathogenesis mechanisms and for developing new treatment strategies. Most of our understanding of alphavirus entry has focused on the Old World alphaviruses, such as Sindbis and Semliki Forest virus. In comparison, very little ismore » known about the entry route taken by more pathogenic New World alphaviruses. Here, we use a novel contents mixing assay to identify the cellular requirements for entry of a New World alphavirus, Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV). Expression of dominant negative forms of key endosomal trafficking genes shows that VEEV must access clathrin-dependent endocytic vesicles for membrane fusion to occur. Unexpectedly, the exit point is different from Old World alphaviruses that leave from early endosomes. Instead, VEEV also requires functional late endosomes. Furthermore, unlike the Old World viruses, VEEV entry is insensitive to cholesterol sequestration from cell membranes and may reflect a need to access an endocytic compartment that lacks cholesterol. This indicates fundamental differences in the entry route taken by VEEV compared to Old World alphaviruses.« less
  • Currently there are no licensed antiviral treatments for the Alphaviruses Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus (VEEV), Everglades virus and Mucambo virus. We previously developed a humanised version of the mouse monoclonal antibody 1A3B-7 (Hu1A3B-7) which exhibited a wide range of reactivity in vitro and was able to protect mice from infection with VEEV. Continued work with the humanised antibody has now demonstrated that it has the potential to be a new human therapeutic. Hu1A3B-7 successfully protected mice from infection with multiple Alphaviruses. The effectiveness of the humanisation process was determined by assessing proliferation responses in human T-cells to peptides derived frommore » the murine and humanised versions of the V{sub H} and V{sub L} domains. This analysis showed that the number of human T-cell epitopes within the humanised antibody had been substantially reduced, indicating that Hu1A3B-7 may have reduced immunogenicity in vivo.« less