Post-Doctoral Research Associate
Caroline B. Plescia, Emily A. David, Dhabaleswar Patra, Ranjan Sengupta, Souad Amiar, Yuan Su, and Robert V. Stahelin Elsevier BV
Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was first discovered in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, and expeditiously spread across the globe causing a global pandemic. Research on SARS-CoV-2, as well as the closely related SARS-CoV-1 and MERS coronaviruses, is restricted to BSL-3 facilities. Such BSL-3 classification makes SARS-CoV-2 research inaccessible to the majority of functioning research laboratories in the United States; this becomes problematic when the collective scientific effort needs to be focused on such in the face of a pandemic. However, a minimal system capable of recapitulating different steps of the viral life cycle without using the virus’ genetic material could increase accessibility. In this work, we assessed the four structural proteins from SARS-CoV-2 for their ability to form virus-like particles (VLPs) from human cells to form a competent system for BSL-2 studies of SARS-CoV-2. Herein, we provide methods and resources of producing, purifying, fluorescently and APEX2-labeling of SARS-CoV-2 VLPs for the evaluation of mechanisms of viral budding and entry as well as assessment of drug inhibitors under BSL-2 conditions. These systems should be useful to those looking to circumvent BSL-3 work with SARS-CoV-2 yet study the mechanisms by which SARS-CoV-2 enters and exits human cells.
Yuan Su and Robert V. Stahelin MDPI AG
Viral protein 24 (VP24) from Ebola virus (EBOV) was first recognized as a minor matrix protein that associates with cellular membranes. However, more recent studies shed light on its roles in inhibiting viral genome transcription and replication, facilitating nucleocapsid assembly and transport, and interfering with immune responses in host cells through downregulation of interferon (IFN)-activated genes. Thus, whether VP24 is a peripheral protein with lipid-binding ability for matrix layer recruitment has not been explored. Here, we examined the lipid-binding ability of VP24 with a number of lipid-binding assays. The results indicated that VP24 lacked the ability to associate with lipids tested regardless of VP24 posttranslational modifications. We further demonstrate that the presence of the EBOV major matrix protein VP40 did not promote VP24 membrane association in vitro or in cells. Further, no protein–protein interactions between VP24 and VP40 were detected by co-immunoprecipitation. Confocal imaging and cellular membrane fractionation analyses in human cells suggested VP24 did not specifically localize at the plasma membrane inner leaflet. Overall, we provide evidence that EBOV VP24 is not a lipid-binding protein and its presence in the viral matrix layer is likely not dependent on direct lipid interactions.