July 19, 2019  |  

Microplitis demolitor bracovirus proviral loci and clustered replication genes exhibit distinct DNA amplification patterns during replication.

Polydnaviruses are large, double-stranded DNA viruses that are beneficial symbionts of parasitoid wasps. Polydnaviruses in the genus Bracovirus (BVs) persist in wasps as proviruses, and their genomes consist of two functional components referred to as proviral segments and nudivirus-like genes. Prior studies established that the DNA domains where proviral segments reside are amplified during replication and that segments within amplified loci are circularized before packaging into nucleocapsids. One DNA domain where nudivirus-like genes are located is also amplified but never packaged into virions. We recently sequenced the genome of the braconid Microplitis demolitor, which carries M. demolitor bracovirus (MdBV). Here, we took advantage of this resource to characterize the DNAs that are amplified during MdBV replication using a combination of Illumina and Pacific Biosciences sequencing approaches. The results showed that specific nucleotide sites identify the boundaries of amplification for proviral loci. Surprisingly, however, amplification of loci 3, 4, 6, and 8 produced head-to-tail concatemeric intermediates; loci 1, 2, and 5 produced head-to-head/tail-to-tail concatemers; and locus 7 yielded no identified concatemers. Sequence differences at amplification junctions correlated with the types of amplification intermediates the loci produced, while concatemer processing gave rise to the circularized DNAs that are packaged into nucleocapsids. The MdBV nudivirus-like gene cluster was also amplified, albeit more weakly than most proviral loci and with nondiscrete boundaries. Overall, the MdBV genome exhibited three patterns of DNA amplification during replication. Our data also suggest that PacBio sequencing could be useful in studying the replication intermediates produced by other DNA viruses. Polydnaviruses are of fundamental interest because they provide a novel example of viruses evolving into beneficial symbionts. All polydnaviruses are associated with insects called parasitoid wasps, which are of additional applied interest because many are biological control agents of pest insects. Polydnaviruses in the genus Bracovirus (BVs) evolved ~100 million years ago from an ancestor related to the baculovirus-nudivirus lineage but have also established many novelties due to their symbiotic lifestyle. These include the fact that BVs are transmitted only vertically as proviruses and produce replication-defective virions that package only a portion of the viral genome. Here, we studied Microplitis demolitor bracovirus (MdBV) and report that its genome exhibits three distinct patterns of DNA amplification during replication. We also identify several previously unknown features of BV genomes that correlate with these different amplification patterns. Copyright © 2015, American Society for Microbiology. All Rights Reserved.


July 19, 2019  |  

Defective HIV-1 proviruses produce novel protein-coding RNA species in HIV-infected patients on combination antiretroviral therapy.

Despite years of plasma HIV-RNA levels <40 copies per milliliter during combination antiretroviral therapy (cART), the majority of HIV-infected patients exhibit persistent seropositivity to HIV-1 and evidence of immune activation. These patients also show persistence of proviruses of HIV-1 in circulating peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Many of these proviruses have been characterized as defective and thus thought to contribute little to HIV-1 pathogenesis. By combining 5'LTR-to-3'LTR single-genome amplification and direct amplicon sequencing, we have identified the presence of "defective" proviruses capable of transcribing novel unspliced HIV-RNA (usHIV-RNA) species in patients at all stages of HIV-1 infection. Although these novel usHIV-RNA transcripts had exon structures that were different from those of the known spliced HIV-RNA variants, they maintained translationally competent ORFs, involving elements of gag, pol, env, rev, and nef to encode a series of novel HIV-1 chimeric proteins. These novel usHIV-RNAs were detected in five of five patients, including four of four patients with prolonged viral suppression of HIV-RNA levels <40 copies per milliliter for more than 6 y. Our findings suggest that the persistent defective proviruses of HIV-1 are not "silent," but rather may contribute to HIV-1 pathogenesis by stimulating host-defense pathways that target foreign nucleic acids and proteins.


July 19, 2019  |  

Defective HIV-1 proviruses are expressed and can be recognized by cytotoxic T lymphocytes, which shape the proviral landscape.

Despite antiretroviral therapy, HIV-1 persists in memory CD4(+) T cells, creating a barrier to cure. The majority of HIV-1 proviruses are defective and considered clinically irrelevant. Using cells from HIV-1-infected individuals and reconstructed patient-derived defective proviruses, we show that defective proviruses can be transcribed into RNAs that are spliced and translated. Proviruses with defective major splice donors (MSDs) can activate novel splice sites to produce HIV-1 transcripts, and cells with these proviruses can be recognized by HIV-1-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs). Further, cells with proviruses containing lethal mutations upstream of CTL epitopes can also be recognized by CTLs, potentially through aberrant translation. Thus, CTLs may change the landscape of HIV-1 proviruses by preferentially targeting cells with specific types of defective proviruses. Additionally, the expression of defective proviruses will need to be considered in the measurement of HIV-1 latency reversal. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


July 7, 2019  |  

Evolution of coreceptor utilization to escape CCR5 antagonist therapy.

The HIV-1 envelope interacts with coreceptors CCR5 and CXCR4 in a dynamic, multi-step process, its molecular details not clearly delineated. Use of CCR5 antagonists results in tropism shift and therapeutic failure. Here we describe a novel approach using full-length patient-derived gp160 quasispecies libraries cloned into HIV-1 molecular clones, their separation based on phenotypic tropism in vitro, and deep sequencing of the resultant variants for structure-function analyses. Analysis of functionally validated envelope sequences from patients who failed CCR5 antagonist therapy revealed determinants strongly associated with coreceptor specificity, especially at the gp120-gp41 and gp41-gp41 interaction surfaces that invite future research on the roles of subunit interaction and envelope trimer stability in coreceptor usage. This study identifies important structure-function relationships in HIV-1 envelope, and demonstrates proof of concept for a new integrated analysis method that facilitates laboratory discovery of resistant mutants to aid in development of other therapeutic agents. Copyright © 2016 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


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