Hydrostatic pressure induces the fusion-active state of enveloped viruses

Academic Article


  • Enveloped animal viruses must undergo membrane fusion to deliver their genome into the host cell. We demonstrate that high pressure inactivates two membrane-enveloped viruses, influenza and Sindbis, by trapping the particles in a fusion-intermediate state. The pressure-induced conformational changes in Sindbis and influenza viruses were followed using intrinsic and extrinsic fluorescence spectroscopy, circular dichroism, and fusion, plaque, and hemagglutination assays. Influenza virus subjected to pressure exposes hydrophobic domains as determined by tryptophan fluorescence and by the binding of bis-8-anilino-1-naphthalenesulfonate, a well established marker of the fusogenic state in influenza virus. Pressure also produced an increase in the fusion activity at neutral pH as monitored by fluorescence resonance energy transfer using lipid vesicles labeled with fluorescence probes. Sindbis virus also underwent conformational changes induced by pressure similar to those in influenza virus, and the increase in fusion activity was followed by pyrene excimer fluorescence of the metabolically labeled virus particles. Overall we show that pressure elicits subtle changes in the whole structure of the enveloped viruses triggering a conformational change that is similar to the change triggered by low pH. Our data strengthen the hypothesis that the native conformation of fusion proteins is metastable, and a cycle of pressure leads to a final state, the fusion-active state, of smaller volume.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Gaspar LP; Silva ACB; Gomes AMO; Freitas MS; Ano Bom APD; Schwarcz WD; Mestecky J; Novak MJ; Foguel D; Silva JL
  • Start Page

  • 8433
  • End Page

  • 8439
  • Volume

  • 277
  • Issue

  • 10