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Title: Molecular determinants of phleboviral cell entry
Author: Halldorsson, Steinar
ISNI:       0000 0004 7430 5253
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2017
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Phleboviruses are emerging zoonotic pathogens which constitute a global threat to human and animal health. The mosquito-borne Rift Valley fever virus (RVFV) is a widespread problem across the African continent and causes regular deadly outbreaks in ruminants. The recently emerged severe fever with thrombocytopenia syndrome virus (SFTSV) is a serious human public health concern in China which has rapidly spread to Japan and Korea with fatality rates as high as 16-30%. Phleboviral cell entry is mediated by two viral glycoproteins: the class II fusion protein Gc and the lesser known Gn. Initial cell attachment is glycan dependent and the penetration into the cell cytoplasm is mediated by the Gc fusion protein which catalyses viral and cell membrane merger. The entry mechanism is not well understood from a structural perspective which limits mechanistic insights. The purpose of this thesis is to further our understanding of the cell entry process by filling in the missing structural information on the phleboviral glycoprotein layer. To this end, an integrated structural approach using cryo-EM and X-ray crystallography was adopted. The crystal structure of the Gn ectodomain is presented which reveals an unprecedented structural relationship with seemingly unrelated viruses. Single-particle cryo-EM and localized reconstruction reveal the glycoprotein layer of the RVFV and a pseudo-atomic model of the RVFV is presented. The assembly shows the shielding of the Gc fusion protein and suggests that the Gn functions as a fusion chaperone. The post-fusion crystal structure of the Gc protein from SFTSV further consolidates a mechanism of membrane fusion by class II fusion proteins. Finally, preliminary data on receptor binding and mechanism of antibody mediated neutralization are presented. The work presented herein provides a novel platform for studying and understanding entry and assembly of phleboviruses as well as the design of novel therapeutics.
Supervisor: Huiskonen, Juha T. ; Bowden, Thomas A. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Virology ; Structural biology ; phlebovirus ; glycoprotein