JOURNAL ARTICLE

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus ORF7a Inhibits Bone Marrow Stromal Antigen 2 Virion Tethering through a Novel Mechanism of Glycosylation Interference

Justin K Taylor, Christopher M Coleman, Sandra Postel, Jeanne M Sisk, John G Bernbaum, Thiagarajan Venkataraman, Eric J Sundberg, Matthew B Frieman
Journal of Virology 2015, 89 (23): 11820-33
26378163

UNLABELLED: Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) emerged in November 2002 as a case of atypical pneumonia in China, and the causative agent of SARS was identified to be a novel coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV). Bone marrow stromal antigen 2 (BST-2; also known as CD317 or tetherin) was initially identified to be a pre-B-cell growth promoter, but it also inhibits the release of virions of the retrovirus human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) by tethering budding virions to the host cell membrane. Further work has shown that BST-2 restricts the release of many other viruses, including the human coronavirus 229E (hCoV-229E), and the genomes of many of these viruses encode BST-2 antagonists to overcome BST-2 restriction. Given the previous studies on BST-2, we aimed to determine if BST-2 has the ability to restrict SARS-CoV and if the SARS-CoV genome encodes any proteins that modulate BST-2's antiviral function. Through an in vitro screen, we identified four potential BST-2 modulators encoded by the SARS-CoV genome: the papain-like protease (PLPro), nonstructural protein 1 (nsp1), ORF6, and ORF7a. As the function of ORF7a in SARS-CoV replication was previously unknown, we focused our study on ORF7a. We found that BST-2 does restrict SARS-CoV, but the loss of ORF7a leads to a much greater restriction, confirming the role of ORF7a as an inhibitor of BST-2. We further characterized the mechanism of BST-2 inhibition by ORF7a and found that ORF7a localization changes when BST-2 is overexpressed and ORF7a binds directly to BST-2. Finally, we also show that SARS-CoV ORF7a blocks the restriction activity of BST-2 by blocking the glycosylation of BST-2.

IMPORTANCE: The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) emerged from zoonotic sources in 2002 and caused over 8,000 infections and 800 deaths in 37 countries around the world. Identifying host factors that regulate SARS-CoV pathogenesis is critical to understanding how this lethal virus causes disease. We have found that BST-2 is capable of restricting SARS-CoV release from cells; however, we also identified a SARS-CoV protein that inhibits BST-2 function. We show that the SARS-CoV protein ORF7a inhibits BST-2 glycosylation, leading to a loss of BST-2's antiviral function.

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