All Publications

  • Chikungunya virus assembly and budding visualized in situ using cryogenic electron tomography. Nature microbiology Chmielewski, D., Schmid, M. F., Simmons, G., Jin, J., Chiu, W. 2022


    Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is a representative alphavirus causing debilitating arthritogenic disease in humans. Alphavirus particles assemble into two icosahedral layers: the glycoprotein spike shell embedded in a lipid envelope and the inner nucleocapsid (NC) core. In contrast to matrix-driven assembly of some enveloped viruses, the assembly/budding process of two-layered icosahedral particles remains poorly understood. Here we used cryogenic electron tomography (cryo-ET) to capture snapshots of the CHIKV assembly in infected human cells. Subvolume classification of the snapshots revealed 12 intermediates representing different stages of assembly at the plasma membrane. Further subtomogram average structures ranging from subnanometre to nanometre resolutions show that immature non-icosahedral NCs function as rough scaffolds to trigger icosahedral assembly of the spike lattice, which in turn progressively transforms the underlying NCs into icosahedral cores during budding. Further, analysis of CHIKV-infected cells treated with budding-inhibiting antibodies revealed wider spaces between spikes than in icosahedral spike lattice, suggesting that spacing spikes apart to prevent their lateral interactions prevents the plasma membrane from bending around the NC, thus blocking virus budding. These findings provide the molecular mechanisms for alphavirus assembly and antibody-mediated budding inhibition that provide valuable insights for the development of broad therapeutics targeting the assembly of icosahedral enveloped viruses.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41564-022-01164-2

    View details for PubMedID 35773421

  • A 3.4-Å cryo-electron microscopy structure of the human coronavirus spike trimer computationally derived from vitrified NL63 virus particles. QRB discovery Zhang, K., Li, S., Pintilie, G., Chmielewski, D., Schmid, M. F., Simmons, G., Jin, J., Chiu, W. 2020; 1: e11


    Human coronavirus NL63 (HCoV-NL63) is an enveloped pathogen of the family Coronaviridae that spreads worldwide and causes up to 10% of all annual respiratory diseases. HCoV-NL63 is typically associated with mild upper respiratory symptoms in children, elderly and immunocompromised individuals. It has also been shown to cause severe lower respiratory illness. NL63 shares ACE2 as a receptor for viral entry with SARS-CoV-1 and SARS-CoV-2. Here, we present the in situ structure of HCoV-NL63 spike (S) trimer at 3.4-Å resolution by single-particle cryo-EM imaging of vitrified virions without chemical fixative. It is structurally homologous to that obtained previously from the biochemically purified ectodomain of HCoV-NL63 S trimer, which displays a three-fold symmetric trimer in a single conformation. In addition to previously proposed and observed glycosylation sites, our map shows density at other sites, as well as different glycan structures. The domain arrangement within a protomer is strikingly different from that of the SARS-CoV-2 S and may explain their different requirements for activating binding to the receptor. This structure provides the basis for future studies of spike proteins with receptors, antibodies or drugs, in the native state of the coronavirus particles.

    View details for DOI 10.1017/qrd.2020.16

    View details for PubMedID 34192263

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7737156