Category Archives: Publications

Structure of the thermally stable Zika virus

by Victor A. Kostyuchenko, Elisa X. Y. Lim, Shuijun Zhang, Guntur Fibriansah, Thiam-Seng Ng, Justin S. G. Ooi, Jian Shi & Shee-Mei Lok

Nature (2016) doi:10.1038/nature17994  Published online 19 April 2016

Zika virus (ZIKV), formerly a neglected pathogen, has recently been associated with microcephaly in fetuses1, and with Guillian–Barré syndrome in adults2. Here we present the 3.7 Å resolution cryo-electron microscopy structure of ZIKV, and show that the overall architecture of the virus is similar to that of other flaviviruses. Sequence and structural comparisons of the ZIKV envelope (E) protein with other flaviviruses show that parts of the E protein closely resemble the neurovirulent West Nile and Japanese encephalitis viruses, while others are similar to dengue virus (DENV). However, the contribution of the E protein to flavivirus pathobiology is currently not understood. The virus particle was observed to be structurally stable even when incubated at 40 °C, in sharp contrast to the less thermally stable DENV3. This is also reflected in the infectivity of ZIKV compared to DENV serotypes 2 and 4 (DENV2 and DENV4) at different temperatures. The cryo-electron microscopy structure shows a virus with a more compact surface. This structural stability of the virus may help it to survive in the harsh conditions of semen4, saliva5 and urine6. Antibodies or drugs that destabilize the structure may help to reduce the disease outcome or limit the spread of the virus.

Read online: Nature.

Visualization of Assembly Intermediates and Budding Vacuoles of Singapore Grouper Iridovirus in Grouper Embryonic Cells

by Yang Liu, Bich Ngoc Tran, Fan Wang, Puey Ounjai, Jinlu Wu & Choy L. Hew

Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 18696 (2016)
doi:10.1038/srep18696

Iridovirid infection is associated with the catastrophic loss in aquaculture industry and the population decline of wild amphibians and reptiles, but none of the iridovirid life cycles have been well explored. Here, we report the detailed visualization of the life cycle of Singapore grouper iridovirus (SGIV) in grouper cells by cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM) and tomography (ET). EM imaging revealed that SGIV viral particles have an outer capsid layer, and the interaction of this layer with cellular plasma membrane initiates viral entry. Subsequent viral replication leads to formation of a viral assembly site (VAS), where membranous structures emerge as precursors to recruit capsid proteins to form an intermediate, double-shell, crescent-shaped structure, which curves to form icosahedral capsids. Knockdown of the major capsid protein eliminates the formation of viral capsids. As capsid formation progresses, electron-dense materials known to be involved in DNA encapsidation accumulate within the capsid until it is fully occupied. Besides the well-known budding mechanism through the cell periphery, we demonstrate a novel budding process in which viral particles bud into a tubular-like structure within vacuoles. This budding process may denote a new strategy used by SGIV to disseminate viral particles into neighbor cells while evading host immune response.

Read online: Scientific Reports.

Frequency and amplitude control of cortical oscillations by phosphoinositide waves

by Ding Xiong, Shengping Xiao, Su Guo, Qinsong Lin, Fubito Nakatsu & Min Wu

Nature Chemical Biology (2016) doi:10.1038/nchembio.2000
Published online 11 January 2016

Rhythmicity is prevalent in the cortical dynamics of diverse single and multicellular systems. Current models of cortical oscillations focus primarily on cytoskeleton-based feedbacks, but information on signals upstream of the actin cytoskeleton is limited. In addition, inhibitory mechanisms—especially local inhibitory mechanisms, which ensure proper spatial and kinetic controls of activation—are not well understood. Here, we identified two phosphoinositide phosphatases, synaptojanin 2 and SHIP1, that function in periodic traveling waves of rat basophilic leukemia (RBL) mast cells. The local, phase-shifted activation of lipid phosphatases generates sequential waves of phosphoinositides. By acutely perturbing phosphoinositide composition using optogenetic methods, we showed that pulses of PtdIns(4,5)P2 regulate the amplitude of cyclic membrane waves while PtdIns(3,4)P2 sets the frequency. Collectively, these data suggest that the spatiotemporal dynamics of lipid metabolism have a key role in governing cortical oscillations and reveal how phosphatidylinositol 3-kinases (PI3K) activity could be frequency-encoded by a phosphatase-dependent inhibitory reaction.

Read online: Nature Chemical Biology.

Learn more about Wu Min‘s research.