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Journal Article

Biophysical characterization of the cetacean morbillivirus haemagglutinin glycoprotein


Zinzula,  Luca
Baumeister, Wolfgang / Molecular Structural Biology, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Max Planck Society;


Scholz,  Judith
Scientific Service Groups, Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry, Max Planck Society;

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Zinzula, L., Scholz, J., Nagy, I., Di Guardo, G., & Orsini, M. (2023). Biophysical characterization of the cetacean morbillivirus haemagglutinin glycoprotein. Virus Research, 336: 199231. doi:10.1016/j.virusres.2023.199231.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000D-E733-5
Cetacean morbillivirus (CeMV) is an enveloped, non-segmented, negative-stranded RNA virus that infects marine mammals, spreading across species and causing lethal disease outbreaks worldwide. Among the eight proteins encoded by the CeMV genome, the haemagglutinin (H) glycoprotein is responsible for the virus attachment to host cell receptors. CeMV H represents an attractive target for antiviral and diagnostic research, yet the elucidation of the molecular mechanisms underlying its role in infection and inter-species transmission was hampered thus far due to the unavailability of recombinant versions of the protein. Here we present the cloning, expression and purification of a recombinant CeMV H ectodomain (rH-ecto), providing an initial characterization of its biophysical and structural properties. Sodium dodecyl sulphate - polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) combined to Western blot analysis and periodic acid Schiff assay showed that CeMV rH-ecto is purifiable at homogeneity from insect cells as a secreted, soluble and glycosylated protein. Miniaturized differential scanning fluorimetry, Blue Native PAGE and size exclusion chromatography coupled to multiangle light scattering revealed that CeMV rH-ecto is globularly folded, thermally stable and exists in solution in the oligomeric states of dimer and multiple of dimers. Furthermore, negative stain electron microscopy single particle analysis allowed us to delineate a low-resolution molecular architecture of the CeMV rH-ecto dimer, which recapitulates native assemblies from other morbilliviral H proteins, such as those from measles virus and canine distemper virus. This set of experiments by orthogonal techniques validates the CeMV rH-ecto as an experimental model for future biochemical studies on its structure and functions.