The Nairovirus genus of the Bunyaviridae family contains serious human and animal pathogens classified within multiple serogroups and species. Of these serogroups, the Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV) serogroup comprises sole members CCHFV and Hazara virus (HAZV). CCHFV is an emerging zoonotic virus that causes often-fatal hemorrhagic fever in infected humans for which preventative or therapeutic strategies are not available. In contrast, HAZV is nonpathogenic to humans and thus represents an excellent model to study aspects of CCHFV biology under conditions of more-accessible biological containment. The three RNA segments that form the nairovirus genome are encapsidated by the viral nucleocapsid protein (N) to form ribonucleoprotein (RNP) complexes that are substrates for RNA synthesis and packaging into virus particles. We used quantitative proteomics to identify cellular interaction partners of CCHFV N and identified robust interactions with cellular chaperones. These interactions were validated using immunological methods, and the specific interaction between native CCHFV N and cellular chaperones of the HSP70 family was confirmed during live CCHFV infection. Using infectious HAZV, we showed for the first time that the nairovirus N-HSP70 association was maintained within both infected cells and virus particles, where N is assembled as RNPs. Reduction of active HSP70 levels in cells by the use of small-molecule inhibitors significantly reduced HAZV titers, and a model for chaperone function in the context of high genetic variability is proposed. These results suggest that chaperones of the HSP70 family are required for nairovirus replication and thus represent a genetically stable cellular therapeutic target for preventing nairovirus-mediated disease.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
FUNDING INFORMATION This work, including the efforts of Rebecca Surtees, was funded by Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) (BB/F016603/1).
© 2016, American Society for Microbiology.