Myristoylation of the arenavirus envelope glycoprotein stable signal peptide is critical for membrane fusion but dispensable for virion morphogenesis

Joanne York, Jack H. Nunberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Arenaviruses are responsible for severe and often fatal hemorrhagic disease. In the absence of effective antiviral therapies and vaccines, these viruses pose serious threats to public health and biodefense. Arenaviruses enter the host cell by fusion of the viral and endosomal membranes, a process mediated by the virus envelope glycoprotein GPC. Unlike other class I viral fusion proteins, GPC retains its stable signal peptide (SSP) as an essential third subunit in the mature complex. SSP spans the membrane twice and is myristoylated at its cytoplasmic N terminus. Mutations that abolish SSP myristoylation have been shown to reduce pH-induced cell-cell fusion activity of ectopically expressed GPC to ~20% of wild-type levels. In order to examine the role of SSP myristoylation in the context of the intact virus, we used reverse genetics to generate Junín viruses (Candid #1 isolate) in which the critical glycine-2 residue in SSP was either replaced by alanine (G2A) or deleted (ΔG2). These mutant viruses produced smaller foci of infection in Vero cells and showed an ~5-fold reduction in specific infectivity, commensurate with the defect in cell-cell fusion. However, virus assembly and GPC incorporation into budded virions were unaffected. Our findings suggest that the myristate moiety is cryptically disposed in the prefusion GPC complex and may function late in the fusion process to promote merging of the viral and cellular membranes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8341-8350
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Virology
Volume90
Issue number18
DOIs
StatePublished - 2016

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