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Acidic pH-Induced Conformations and LAMP1 Binding of the Lassa Virus Glycoprotein Spike

PLoS Pathog 1st Feb 2016 Li S, Sun Z, Pryce R, Parsy ML, Fehling SK, Schlie K, Siebert CA, Garten W, Bowden TA, Strecker T, Huiskonen JT,
  • Professor Juha T Huiskonen
  • Professor Thomas A. Bowden

Lassa virus is an enveloped, bi-segmented RNA virus and the most prevalent and fatal of all Old World arenaviruses. Virus entry into the host cell is mediated by a tripartite surface spike complex, which is composed of two viral glycoprotein subunits, GP1 and GP2, and the stable signal peptide. Of these, GP1 binds to cellular receptors and GP2 catalyzes fusion between the viral envelope and the host cell membrane during endocytosis. The molecular structure of the spike and conformational rearrangements induced by low pH, prior to fusion, remain poorly understood. Here, we analyzed the three-dimensional ultrastructure of Lassa virus using electron cryotomography. Sub-tomogram averaging yielded a structure of the glycoprotein spike at 14-Å resolution. The spikes are trimeric, cover the virion envelope, and connect to the underlying matrix. Structural changes to the spike, following acidification, support a viral entry mechanism dependent on binding to the lysosome-resident receptor LAMP1 and further dissociation of the membrane-distal GP1 subunits.