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Inactivation mechanisms of influenza A virus under pH conditions encountered in aerosol particles as revealed by whole-virus HDX-MS


David, Shannon C; Vadas, Oscar; Glas, Irina; Schaub, Aline; Luo, Beiping; D'angelo, Giovanni; Montoya, Jonathan Paz; Bluvshtein, Nir; Hugentobler, Walter; Klein, Liviana K; Motos, Ghislain; Pohl, Marie; Violaki, Kalliopi; Nenes, Athanasios; Krieger, Ulrich K; Stertz, Silke; Peter, Thomas; Kohn, Tamar (2023). Inactivation mechanisms of influenza A virus under pH conditions encountered in aerosol particles as revealed by whole-virus HDX-MS. mSphere, 8(5):e0022623.

Abstract

Multiple respiratory viruses, including influenza A virus (IAV), can be transmitted via expiratory aerosol particles, and aerosol pH was recently identified as a major factor influencing airborne virus infectivity. Indoors, small exhaled aerosols undergo rapid acidification to pH ~4. IAV is known to be sensitive to mildly acidic conditions encountered within host endosomes; however, it is unknown whether the same mechanisms could mediate viral inactivation within the more acidic aerosol micro-environment. Here, we identified that transient exposure to pH 4 caused IAV inactivation by a two-stage process, with an initial sharp decline in infectious titers mainly attributed to premature attainment of the post-fusion conformation of viral protein haemagglutinin (HA). Protein changes were observed by hydrogen-deuterium exchange coupled to mass spectrometry (HDX-MS) as early as 10 s post-exposure to acidic conditions. Our HDX-MS data are in agreement with other more labor-intensive structural analysis techniques, such as X-ray crystallography, highlighting the ease and usefulness of whole-virus HDX-MS for multiplexed protein analyses, even within enveloped viruses such as IAV. Additionally, virion integrity was partially but irreversibly affected by acidic conditions, with a progressive unfolding of the internal matrix protein 1 (M1) that aligned with a more gradual decline in viral infectivity with time. In contrast, no acid-mediated changes to the genome or lipid envelope were detected. Improved understanding of respiratory virus fate within exhaled aerosols constitutes a global public health priority, and information gained here could aid the development of novel strategies to control the airborne persistence of seasonal and/or pandemic influenza in the future. IMPORTANCE: It is well established that COVID-19, influenza, and many other respiratory diseases can be transmitted by the inhalation of aerosolized viruses. Many studies have shown that the survival time of these airborne viruses is limited, but it remains an open question as to what drives their infectivity loss. Here, we address this question for influenza A virus by investigating structural protein changes incurred by the virus under conditions relevant to respiratory aerosol particles. From prior work, we know that expelled aerosols can become highly acidic due to equilibration with indoor room air, and our results indicate that two viral proteins are affected by these acidic conditions at multiple sites, leading to virus inactivation. Our findings suggest that the development of air treatments to quicken the speed of aerosol acidification would be a major strategy to control infectious bioburdens in the air.

Abstract

Multiple respiratory viruses, including influenza A virus (IAV), can be transmitted via expiratory aerosol particles, and aerosol pH was recently identified as a major factor influencing airborne virus infectivity. Indoors, small exhaled aerosols undergo rapid acidification to pH ~4. IAV is known to be sensitive to mildly acidic conditions encountered within host endosomes; however, it is unknown whether the same mechanisms could mediate viral inactivation within the more acidic aerosol micro-environment. Here, we identified that transient exposure to pH 4 caused IAV inactivation by a two-stage process, with an initial sharp decline in infectious titers mainly attributed to premature attainment of the post-fusion conformation of viral protein haemagglutinin (HA). Protein changes were observed by hydrogen-deuterium exchange coupled to mass spectrometry (HDX-MS) as early as 10 s post-exposure to acidic conditions. Our HDX-MS data are in agreement with other more labor-intensive structural analysis techniques, such as X-ray crystallography, highlighting the ease and usefulness of whole-virus HDX-MS for multiplexed protein analyses, even within enveloped viruses such as IAV. Additionally, virion integrity was partially but irreversibly affected by acidic conditions, with a progressive unfolding of the internal matrix protein 1 (M1) that aligned with a more gradual decline in viral infectivity with time. In contrast, no acid-mediated changes to the genome or lipid envelope were detected. Improved understanding of respiratory virus fate within exhaled aerosols constitutes a global public health priority, and information gained here could aid the development of novel strategies to control the airborne persistence of seasonal and/or pandemic influenza in the future. IMPORTANCE: It is well established that COVID-19, influenza, and many other respiratory diseases can be transmitted by the inhalation of aerosolized viruses. Many studies have shown that the survival time of these airborne viruses is limited, but it remains an open question as to what drives their infectivity loss. Here, we address this question for influenza A virus by investigating structural protein changes incurred by the virus under conditions relevant to respiratory aerosol particles. From prior work, we know that expelled aerosols can become highly acidic due to equilibration with indoor room air, and our results indicate that two viral proteins are affected by these acidic conditions at multiple sites, leading to virus inactivation. Our findings suggest that the development of air treatments to quicken the speed of aerosol acidification would be a major strategy to control infectious bioburdens in the air.

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Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Institute of Medical Virology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Life Sciences > Microbiology
Life Sciences > Molecular Biology
Uncontrolled Keywords:HDX-MS; aerosols; haemagglutinin; influenza A virus; matrix 1
Language:English
Date:24 October 2023
Deposited On:15 Jan 2024 14:17
Last Modified:30 Jun 2024 01:37
Publisher:American Society for Microbiology
ISSN:2379-5042
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1128/msphere.00226-23
PubMed ID:37594288
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)