The structure of a virus particle must conform to the mechanism by which it enters and infects a cell. We seek to relate structures of virus particles and viral surface proteins to mechanisms of the steps in cell attachment, uptake and penetration that initiate a productive infection. The proposed experiments take advantage of recent advances in electron cryomicroscopy (cryo-EM) and live-cell imaging to define these mechanisms for both non- enveloped and enveloped viruses, taking rotaviruses and flaviviruses (West Nile and dengue viruses, in particular) as specific examples. Previous live-cell imaging studies defined the cellular entry pathway for rhesus rotavirus (RRV). We can now relate structures we have determined for distinct conformations of the spike-like viral protein 4 (VP4), which mediates cell entry, to stages of plasma-membrane remodeling in the entry pathway. We will extend on-going analyses by cryo-EM of VP4 conformations at the membrane interface, both on cells and in an in vitro-reconstituted system for early steps, to determine how RRV deforms and then disrupts a membrane bilayer. A mechanism for RRV membrane perforation, suggested by preliminary data, may help unify observations made with several other RNA viruses. Proposed experiments will connect high- resolution structures with direct analyses (by electron cryotomography and potentially by high-resolution template matching) of VP4 conformations during cell entry and with sequences of events in time (by lattice- light-sheet microscopy). For the flavivirus fusion protein (the E protein), completing a structure for the postfusion conformation of the intact protein will enable design of experiments to trap fusion intermediates and thus to define the fusion mechanism more completely than hitherto possible. The intended outcomes of the studies, for both rotaviruses and flaviviruses, are structurally and mechanistically accurate molecular movies of viral entry.

Public Health Relevance

The mechanism by which viruses enter cells determines crucial aspects of cell tropism, host range, and ultimately pathogenesis. We combine advanced methods in cryo-EM and live-cell imaging to determine molecular mechanisms of entry for broad classes of viruses, using two groups of major human pathogens -- flaviviruses and rotaviruses -- as models.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Macromolecular Structure and Function C Study Section (MSFC)
Program Officer
Amin, Anowarul
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Boston Children's Hospital
United States
Zip Code
Salgado, Eric N; Garcia Rodriguez, Brian; Narayanaswamy, Nagarjun et al. (2018) Visualization of Calcium Ion Loss from Rotavirus during Cell Entry. J Virol 92:
Chao, Luke H; Jang, Jaebong; Johnson, Adam et al. (2018) How small-molecule inhibitors of dengue-virus infection interfere with viral membrane fusion. Elife 7:
Salgado, Eric N; Upadhyayula, Srigokul; Harrison, Stephen C (2017) Single-particle detection of transcription following rotavirus entry. J Virol :
Harrison, Stephen C (2017) Protein tentacles. J Struct Biol 200:244-247
Kim, Irene S; Jenni, Simon; Stanifer, Megan L et al. (2017) Mechanism of membrane fusion induced by vesicular stomatitis virus G protein. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 114:E28-E36
Harrison, Stephen C (2015) Viral membrane fusion. Virology 479-480:498-507
Mahmutovic, Selma; Clark, Lars; Levis, Silvana C et al. (2015) Molecular Basis for Antibody-Mediated Neutralization of New World Hemorrhagic Fever Mammarenaviruses. Cell Host Microbe 18:705-13
Abdelhakim, Aliaa H; Salgado, Eric N; Fu, Xiaofeng et al. (2014) Structural correlates of rotavirus cell entry. PLoS Pathog 10:e1004355
Chao, Luke H; Klein, Daryl E; Schmidt, Aaron G et al. (2014) Sequential conformational rearrangements in flavivirus membrane fusion. Elife 3:e04389
Estrozi, Leandro F; Settembre, Ethan C; Goret, Gaƫl et al. (2013) Location of the dsRNA-dependent polymerase, VP1, in rotavirus particles. J Mol Biol 425:124-32

Showing the most recent 10 out of 68 publications