Conformational and lipid bilayer-perturbing properties of Marburg virus GP2 segments containing the fusion loop and membrane-proximal external region/transmembrane domain.

Research paper by Nina N Liu, Mark E ME Girvin, Michael M Brenowitz, Jonathan R JR Lai

Indexed on: 02 Jan '20Published on: 01 Jan '20Published in: Heliyon


Fusion of host and viral membranes is a crucial step during infection by enveloped viruses. In the structurally-defined "class I″ viral glycoproteins, the formation of a highly stable α-helical bundle by the ectodomain of the fusion subunit (e.g., GP2 for Marburg virus, MARV) is postulated to provide the energetic driving force to overcome barriers associated with membrane fusion. Upon cell binding, the fusion subunit is proposed to form an extended intermediate that bridges both the viral and host membranes, and collapse of this extended intermediate brings the two membranes into proximity. While there is much high-resolution structural data available for prefusion and post-fusion structures of viral glycoproteins, little information is available about intermediate conformations especially in the context of the fusion loop/peptide (FL or FP) and membrane-proximal external region (MPER)/transmembrane (TM) segments. We present structural and functional studies on segments of MARV GP2 that encompass the FL and MPER/TM in detergent micelles and lipid bicelles. A protein that contains most elements of GP2 ("MGP2-full") is α-helical in membrane-mimicking environments and has pH-dependent membrane lytic activity. MGP2-full is monomeric under such conditions, contrasting with the trimeric species that has been described previously for MARV GP2 ectodomain in aqueous buffer. Variants of MARV GP2 containing the N- and C-terminal halves ("MGP2-FNL" and "MGP2-CMT", respectively) have similar properties. This work provides novel insight into conformational and membrane-perturbing properties of the MARV fusion subunit and how they may relate to viral membrane fusion. © 2019 The Authors.