Phosphoinositides and phosphoinositide binding proteins play a critical role in membrane and protein trafficking in eukaryotes. Their critical role in replication of cytoplasmic viruses has just begun to be understood. Poxviruses, a family of large cytoplasmic DNA viruses, rely on the intracellular membranes to develop their envelope, and poxvirus morphogenesis requires enzymes from the cellular phosphoinositide metabolic pathway. However, the role of phosphoinositides in poxvirus replication remains unclear, and no poxvirus proteins show any homology to eukaryotic phosphoinositide binding domains. Recently, a group of poxvirus proteins, termed viral membrane assembly proteins (VMAPs), were identified as essential for poxvirus membrane biogenesis. A key component of VMAPs is the H7 protein. Here we report the crystal structure of the H7 protein from vaccinia virus. The H7 structure displays a novel fold comprised of seven α-helices and a highly curved three-stranded antiparallel β-sheet. We identified a phosphoinositide binding site in H7, comprised of basic residues on a surface patch and the flexible C-terminal tail. These residues were found to be essential for viral replication and for binding of H7 to phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate (PI3P) and phosphatidylinositol-4-phosphate (PI4P). Our studies suggest that phosphoinositide binding by H7 plays an essential role in poxvirus membrane biogenesis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science