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Title: Structural and biophysical studies of HIV Rev and HBV e-antigen
Author: DiMattia, Michael A.
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) Rev and Hepatitis B virus (HBV) e-antigen are both viral proteins that have key functions in their respective viral replication cycles. Both have evaded crystallization for decades due to their tendency to aggregate and/or form higher-order species. In this thesis the structure determination of HIV Rev and HBV e-antigen is presented—achieved via complexing with monoclonal antibody Fab fragments—and their structures are analysed. HIV Rev is a small regulatory protein that mediates the nuclear export of viral mRNAs, an essential step in the HIV replication cycle. In this process, Rev cooperatively oligomerises onto a highly structured RNA motif, the Rev response element. The structure of Rev (complexed with Fab), determined to 2.3 Å resolution, reveals a molecular dimer where the ordered portion of each subunit (N-terminal domain; NTD; residues 9-65) contains two coplanar a-helices arranged in hairpin fashion. Rev subunits dimerise via interaction of identical hydrophobic patches that overlap to form a V-shaped assembly. Mating of hydrophobic patches on the outer surface of the dimer promotes higher order interactions. Cryo-electron microscopy and helical image reconstruction of in vitro assembled Rev filaments were performed to better understand higher-order Rev oligomerisation. Reconstructions of Rev filaments were determined to ~13 Å resolution, permitting docking of the Rev NTD structure. Conformational variability of the Rev dimer subunits and use of a third ligomerisation interface engender filaments that can expand and contract. Both characteristics were also observed in the crystal structures of Rev. Surface features of the Rev filaments are altered in different expansion states, which may have implications for the assembled forms that Rev adopts during nuclear export of RNA and subsequent re-import into the nucleus. Various models for Rev oligomerisation onto the viral RNA are proposed. Chronic Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection afflicts millions worldwide with cirrhosis and liver cancer. HBV e-antigen (HBeAg), a clinical marker for disease severity, is a soluble variant of the protein (core antigen, HBcAg) that forms the building-blocks of capsids. HBeAg is not required for virion production, but is implicated in establishing immune tolerance and chronic infection. The crystal structure of HBeAg clarifies how the short N-terminal propeptide of HBeAg induces a radically altered mode of dimerisation relative to HBcAg (~140 rotation), which is locked into place through formation of intramolecular disulfide bridges. This structural switch precludes capsid assembly and engenders a distinct antigenic repertoire, explaining why the two antigens are cross-reactive at the T-cell level (through sequence identity) but not at the B-cell level (through conformation). The structure offers insight into how HBeAg may establish immune tolerance for HBcAg while evading its robust immunogenicity.
Supervisor: Grimes, Jonathan M. ; Stuart, David I. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Biochemistry ; Molecular biophysics (biochemistry) ; Disease prevention ; Immunology ; Infectious diseases ; structural biology ; X-ray crystallography ; cryo-electron microscopy