Plasma membrane association facilitates conformational changes in the Marburg virus protein VP40 dimer

RSC Adv. 2017 Apr 26;7(37):22741-22748. doi: 10.1039/c7ra02940c.


Filovirus infections cause hemorrhagic fever in humans and non-human primates that often results in high fatality rates. The Marburg virus is a lipid-enveloped virus from the Filoviridae family and is closely related to the Ebola virus. The viral matrix layer underneath the lipid envelope is formed by the matrix protein VP40 (VP40), which is also involved in other functions during the viral life-cycle. As in the Ebola virus VP40 (eVP40), the recently determined X-ray crystal structure of the Marburg virus VP40 (mVP40) features loops containing cationic residues that form a lipid binding basic patch. However, the mVP40 basic patch is significantly flatter with a more extended surface than in eVP40, suggesting the possibility of differences in the plasma membrane interactions and phospholipid specificity between the VP40 dimers. In this paper, we report on molecular dynamics simulations that investigate the roles of various residues and lipid types in PM association as well as the conformational changes of the mVP40 dimer facilitated by membrane association. We compared the structural changes of the mVP40 dimer with the mVP40 dimer in both lipid free and membrane associated conditions. Despite the significant structural differences in the crystal structure, the Marburg VP40 dimer is found to adopt a configuration very similar to the Ebola VP40 dimer after associating with the membrane. This conformational rearrangement upon lipid binding allows Marburg VP40 to localize and stabilize at the membrane surface in a manner similar to the Ebola VP40 dimer. Consideration of the structural information in its lipid-interacting condition may be important in targeting mVP40 for novel drugs to inhibit viral budding from the plasma membrane.