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Viral subversion of host cell membrane trafficking



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Muenzner, Julia 


Enveloped viruses acquire their membrane coat from the plasma membrane or intracellular organelles and rely on cellular machinery to facilitate envelopment and egress of virus progeny. This thesis examines egress-related interactions between host cell factors and proteins of two different enveloped viruses: hepatitis D virus (HDV) and herpes simplex virus 1 (HSV-1). HDV is a small RNA virus causing fulminant hepatitis or severely aggravating cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. HSV-1 is a large DNA virus infecting epithelial and neuronal cells. Infection with HSV-1 not only triggers the development of recurring sores on oral or genital mucosa, but can also cause severe disease in neonates and immunocompromised patients.

The interaction between the large antigen of HDV (HDAg-L) and the N-terminal domain (NTD) of clathrin, a protein crucial for endocytosis and intracellular vesicular trafficking, was examined by structural, biochemical and biophysical techniques. Co-crystal structures of NTD bound to HDAg-L peptides derived from different HDV genotypes revealed that HDV interacts with multiple binding sites on NTD promiscuously, prompting re-evaluation of the binding between cellular peptides and NTD. Surprisingly, co-crystal structures and pull-down capture assays showed that cellular peptides containing clathrin-binding motifs can also bind multiple sites on the surface of NTD simultaneously. In addition, the structures of viral and cellular peptides bound to NTD enabled the molecular characterization of the fourth peptide binding site on NTD, the “Royle box”, and led to the identification of a novel binding mode at the “arrestin box” peptide binding site on NTD. The work in this thesis therefore not only identifies the molecular basis of HDV:clathrin interactions, but also furthers our understanding of basic clathrin biology.

Even though many HSV-1 proteins have been implicated in the envelopment and egress of viral particles, only few interactions between HSV-1 and cellular proteins promoting these processes have been described. Therefore, the HSV-1 proteins gE, UL21 and UL56 were selected and characterized bioinformatically and/or biochemically. Cellular proteins interacting with UL56 were identified by yeast two-hybrid screening and quantitative mass spectrometry. Co-immunoprecipitation and pull-down experiments confirmed the Golgi-trafficking protein GOPC, components of the mammalian trafficking protein particle complex, and the ubiquitin ligase NEDD4 as novel binding partners of UL56, thereby suggesting exciting new avenues for the investigation of cellular mechanisms contributing to HSV-1 envelopment and egress.




Graham, Stephen Charles


clathrin, membrane trafficking, herpes simplex virus 1, hepatitis D virus


Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Awarding Institution

University of Cambridge
Wellcome Trust, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine