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J Virol. 2013 Aug;87(16):9250-9. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01111-13. Epub 2013 Jun 19.

Point mutations in the paramyxovirus F protein that enhance fusion activity shift the mechanism of complement-mediated virus neutralization.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA.


Parainfluenza virus 5 (PIV5) activates and is neutralized by the alternative pathway (AP) in normal human serum (NHS) but not by heat-inactivated (HI) serum. We have tested the relationship between the fusion activity within the PIV5 F protein, the activation of complement pathways, and subsequent complement-mediated virus neutralization. Recombinant PIV5 viruses with enhanced fusion activity were generated by introducing point mutations in the F fusogenic peptide (G3A) or at a distal site near the F transmembrane domain (S443P). In contrast to wild-type (WT) PIV5, the mutant G3A and S443P viruses were neutralized by both NHS and HI serum. Unlike WT PIV5, hyperfusogenic G3A and S443P viruses were potent C4 activators, C4 was deposited on NHS-treated mutant virions, and the mutants were neutralized by factor B-depleted serum but not by C4-depleted serum. Antibodies purified from HI human serum were sufficient to neutralize both G3A and S443P viruses in vitro but were ineffective against WT PIV5. Electron microscopy data showed greater deposition of purified human antibodies on G3A and S443P virions than on WT PIV5 particles. These data indicate that single amino acid changes that enhance the fusion activity of the PIV5 F protein shift the mechanism of complement activation in the context of viral particles or on the surface of virus-infected cells, due to enhanced binding of antibodies. We present general models for the relationship between enhanced fusion activity in the paramyxovirus F protein and increased susceptibility to antibody-mediated neutralization.

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