• Advanced Hepatitis C Virus Replication PDE Models within a Realistic Intracellular Geometric Environment

      Knodel, Markus; Targett-Adams, Paul; Grillo, Alfio; Herrmann, Eva; Wittum, Gabriel (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, MDPI AG, 2019-02-13) [Article]
      The hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA replication cycle is a dynamic intracellular process occurring in three-dimensional space (3D), which is difficult both to capture experimentally and to visualize conceptually. HCV-generated replication factories are housed within virus-induced intracellular structures termed membranous webs (MW), which are derived from the Endoplasmatic Reticulum (ER). Recently, we published 3D spatiotemporal resolved diffusion–reaction models of the HCV RNA replication cycle by means of surface partial differential equation (sPDE) descriptions. We distinguished between the basic components of the HCV RNA replication cycle, namely HCV RNA, non-structural viral proteins (NSPs), and a host factor. In particular, we evaluated the sPDE models upon realistic reconstructed intracellular compartments (ER/MW). In this paper, we propose a significant extension of the model based upon two additional parameters: different aggregate states of HCV RNA and NSPs, and population dynamics inspired diffusion and reaction coefficients instead of multilinear ones. The combination of both aspects enables realistic modeling of viral replication at all scales. Specifically, we describe a replication complex state consisting of HCV RNA together with a defined amount of NSPs. As a result of the combination of spatial resolution and different aggregate states, the new model mimics a cis requirement for HCV RNA replication. We used heuristic parameters for our simulations, which were run only on a subsection of the ER. Nevertheless, this was sufficient to allow the fitting of core aspects of virus reproduction, at least qualitatively. Our findings should help stimulate new model approaches and experimental directions for virology.
    • Quantitative Analysis of Hepatitis C NS5A Viral Protein Dynamics on the ER Surface

      Knodel, Markus; Nägel, Arne; Reiter, Sebastian; Vogel, Andreas; Targett-Adams, Paul; McLauchlan, John; Herrmann, Eva; Wittum, Gabriel (Viruses, MDPI AG, 2018-01-08) [Article]
      Exploring biophysical properties of virus-encoded components and their requirement for virus replication is an exciting new area of interdisciplinary virological research. To date, spatial resolution has only rarely been analyzed in computational/biophysical descriptions of virus replication dynamics. However, it is widely acknowledged that intracellular spatial dependence is a crucial component of virus life cycles. The hepatitis C virus-encoded NS5A protein is an endoplasmatic reticulum (ER)-anchored viral protein and an essential component of the virus replication machinery. Therefore, we simulate NS5A dynamics on realistic reconstructed, curved ER surfaces by means of surface partial differential equations (sPDE) upon unstructured grids. We match the in silico NS5A diffusion constant such that the NS5A sPDE simulation data reproduce experimental NS5A fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) time series data. This parameter estimation yields the NS5A diffusion constant. Such parameters are needed for spatial models of HCV dynamics, which we are developing in parallel but remain qualitative at this stage. Thus, our present study likely provides the first quantitative biophysical description of the movement of a viral component. Our spatio-temporal resolved ansatz paves new ways for understanding intricate spatial-defined processes central to specfic aspects of virus life cycles.