Importance of protease cleavage sites within and flanking human immunodeficiency virus type 1 transframe protein p6* for spatiotemporal regulation of protease activation.
ABSTRACT: The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) protease (PR) has recently been shown to be inhibited by its propeptide p6* in vitro. As p6* itself is a PR substrate, the primary goal of this study was to determine the importance of p6* cleavage for HIV-1 maturation and infectivity. For that purpose, short peptide variants mimicking proposed cleavage sites within and flanking p6* were designed and analyzed for qualitative and quantitative hydrolysis in vitro. Proviral clones comprising the selected cleavage site mutations were established and analyzed for Gag and Pol processing, virus maturation, and infectivity in cultured cells. Amino-terminal cleavage site mutation caused aberrant processing of nucleocapsid proteins and delayed replication kinetics. Blocking the internal cleavage site resulted in the utilization of a flanking site at a significantly decreased hydrolysis rate in vitro, which however did not affect Gag-Pol processing and viral replication. Although mutations blocking cleavage at the p6* carboxyl terminus yielded noninfectious virions exhibiting severe Gag processing defects, mutations retarding hydrolysis of this cleavage site neither seemed to impact viral infectivity and propagation in cultured cells nor seemed to interfere with overall maturation of released viruses. Interestingly, these mutants were shown to be clearly disadvantaged when challenged with wild-type virus in a dual competition assay. In sum, we conclude that p6* cleavage is absolutely essential to allow complete activation of the PR and subsequent processing of the viral precursors.
Project description:Retrovirus assembly and maturation involve folding and transport of viral proteins to the virus assembly site followed by subsequent proteolytic cleavage of the Gag polyprotein within the nascent virion. We report that inhibiting proteasomes severely decreases the budding, maturation, and infectivity of HIV. Although processing of the Env glycoproteins is not changed, proteasome inhibitors inhibit processing of Gag polyprotein by the viral protease without affecting the activity of the HIV-1 viral protease itself, as demonstrated by in vitro processing of HIV-1 Gag polyprotein Pr55. Furthermore, this effect occurs independently of the virus release function of the HIV-1 accessory protein Vpu and is not limited to HIV-1, as proteasome inhibitors also reduce virus release and Gag processing of HIV-2. Electron microscopy analysis revealed ultrastructural changes in budding virions similar to mutants in the late assembly domain of p6(gag), a C-terminal domain of Pr55 required for efficient virus maturation and release. Proteasome inhibition reduced the level of free ubiquitin in HIV-1-infected cells and prevented monoubiquitination of p6(gag). Consistent with this, viruses with mutations in PR or p6(gag) were resistant to detrimental effects mediated by proteasome inhibitors. These results indicate the requirement for an active proteasome/ubiquitin system in release and maturation of infectious HIV particles and provide a potential pharmaceutical strategy for interfering with retrovirus replication.
Project description:HIV-1 buds as an immature, noninfectious virion. Proteolysis of its main structural component, Gag, is required for morphological maturation and infectivity and leads to release of four functional domains and the spacer peptides SP1 and SP2. The N-terminal cleavages of Gag and the separation of SP1 from CA are all essential for viral infectivity, while the roles of the two C-terminal cleavages and the role of SP2, separating the NC and p6 domains, are less well defined. We have analyzed HIV-1 variants with defective cleavage at either or both sites flanking SP2, or largely lacking SP2, regarding virus production, infectivity, and structural maturation. Neither the presence nor the proteolytic processing of SP2 was required for particle release. Viral infectivity was almost abolished when both cleavage sites were defective and severely reduced when the fast cleavage site between SP2 and p6 was defective. This correlated with an increased proportion of irregular core structures observed by cryo-electron tomography, although processing of CA was unaffected. Mutation of the slow cleavage site between NC and SP2 or deletion of most of SP2 had only a minor effect on infectivity and did not induce major alterations in mature core morphology. We speculate that not only separation of NC and p6 but also the processing kinetics in this region are essential for successful maturation, while SP2 itself is dispensable.
Project description:Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Gag is expressed as a polyprotein that is cleaved into six proteins by the viral protease in a maturation process that begins during assembly and budding. While processing of the N terminus of Gag is strictly required for virion maturation and infectivity, the necessity for the C-terminal cleavages of Gag is less well defined. To examine the importance of this process, we introduced a series of mutations into the C terminus of Gag that interrupted the cleavage sites that normally produce in the nucleocapsid (NC), spacer 2 (SP2), or p6(Gag) proteins. Protein analysis showed that all of the mutant constructs produced virions efficiently upon transfection of cells and appropriately processed Gag polyprotein at the nonmutated sites. Mutants that produced a p9(NC/SP2) protein exhibited only minor effects on HIV-1 infectivity and replication. In contrast, mutants that produced only the p8(SP2/p6) or p15(NC/SP2/p6) protein had severe defects in infectivity and replication. To identify the key defective step, we quantified reverse transcription and integration products isolated from infected cells by PCR. All mutants tested produced levels of reverse transcription products either similar to or only somewhat lower than that of wild type. In contrast, mutants that failed to cleave the SP2-p6(Gag) site produced drastically less provirus than the wild type. Together, our results show that processing of the SP2-p6(Gag) and not the NC-SP2 cleavage site is important for efficient viral DNA integration during infection in vitro. In turn, this finding suggests an important role for the p9(NC/SP2) species in some aspect of integration.
Project description:Apart from its regulatory role in protease (PR) activation, little is known about the function of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 transframe protein p6* in the virus life cycle. p6* is located between the nucleocapsid and PR domains in the Gag-Pol polyprotein precursor and is cleaved by PR during viral maturation. We have recently reported that the central region of p6* can be extensively mutated without abolishing viral infectivity and replication in vitro. However, mutagenesis of the entire p6*-coding sequence in the proviral context is not feasible without affecting the superimposed frameshift signal or the overlapping p1-p6(gag) sequences. To overcome these limitations, we created a novel NL4-3-derived provirus by displacing the original frameshift signal to the 3' end of the gag gene, thereby uncoupling the p6* gene sequence from the p1-p6(gag) reading frame. The resulting virus (AL) proved to be replication competent in different cell cultures and thus represents an elegant tool for detailed analysis of p6* function. Hence, extensive deletions or substitutions were introduced into the p6* gene sequence of the AL provirus, and effects on particle release, protein processing, and viral infectivity were evaluated. Interestingly, neither the deletion of 63% of all p6* residues nor the partial substitution by a heterologous sequence affected virus growth and infectivity, suggesting that p6* is widely dispensable for viral in vitro replication. However, the insertion of a larger reporter sequence interfered with virus production and maturation, implying that the length or conformation of this spacer region might be critical for p6* function.
Project description:Naturally occurring polymorphisms in the protease of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) subtype C would be expected to lead to adaptive (compensatory) changes in protease cleavage sites. To test this hypothesis, we examined the prevalences and patterns of cleavage site polymorphisms in the Gag, Gag-Pol, and Nef cleavage sites of C compared to those in non-C subtypes. Codon-based maximum-likelihood methods were used to assess the natural selection and evolutionary history of individual cleavage sites. Seven cleavage sites (p17/p24, p24/p2, NC/p1, NC/TFP, PR/RT, RT/p66, and p66/IN) were well conserved over time and in all HIV-1 subtypes. One site (p1/p6(gag)) exhibited moderate variation, and four sites (p2/NC, TFP/p6(pol), p6(pol)/PR, and Nef) were highly variable, both within and between subtypes. Three of the variable sites are known to be major determinants of polyprotein processing and virion production. P2/NC controls the rate and order of cleavage, p6(gag) is an important phosphoprotein required for virion release, and TFP/p6(pol), a novel cleavage site in the transframe domain, influences the specificity of Gag-Pol processing and the activation of protease. Overall, 58.3% of the 12 HIV-1 cleavage sites were significantly more diverse in C than in B viruses. When analyzed as a single concatenated fragment of 360 bp, 96.0% of group M cleavage site sequences fell into subtype-specific phylogenetic clusters, suggesting that they coevolved with the virus. Natural variation at C cleavage sites may play an important role, not only in regulation of the viral cycle but also in disease progression and response to therapy.
Project description:Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) resistance to protease inhibitors (PI) results from mutations in the viral protease (PR) that reduce PI binding but also decrease viral replicative capacity (RC). Additional mutations compensating for the RC loss subsequently accumulate within PR and in Gag substrate cleavage sites. We examined the respective contribution of mutations in PR and Gag to PI resistance and RC and their interdependence using a panel of HIV-1 molecular clones carrying different sequences from six patients who had failed multiple lines of treatment. Mutations in Gag strongly and directly contributed to PI resistance besides compensating for fitness loss. This effect was essentially carried by the C-terminal region of Gag (containing NC-SP2-p6) with little or no contribution from MA, CA, and SP1. The effect of Gag on resistance depended on the presence of cleavage site mutations A431V or I437V in NC-SP2-p6 and correlated with processing of the NC/SP2 cleavage site. By contrast, reverting the A431V or I437V mutation in these highly evolved sequences had little effect on RC. Mutations in the NC-SP2-p6 region of Gag can be dually selected as compensatory and as direct PI resistance mutations, with cleavage at the NC-SP2 site behaving as a rate-limiting step in PI resistance. Further compensatory mutations render viral RC independent of the A431V or I437V mutations while their effect on resistance persists.
Project description:BACKGROUND: Polymorphisms at cleavage sites (CS) can influence Gag and Pol proteins processing by the viral protease (PR), restore viral fitness and influence the virological outcome of specific antiretroviral drugs. However, data of HIV-1 variant-associated CS variability is scarce. METHODS: In this descriptive research, we examine the effect of HIV-1 variants on CS conservation using all 9,028 gag and 3,906 pol HIV-1 sequences deposited in GenBank, focusing on the 110 residues (10 per site) involved at 11 CS: P17/P24, P24/P2, P2/P7, P7/P1, P1/P6 (gag) , NC/TFP, TFP/P6 (pol), P6 (pol) /PR, PR/RT(p51), RT(p51)/RT(p66) and RT(p66)/IN. CS consensus amino acid sequences across HIV-1 groups (M, O, N, P), group M 9 subtypes and 51 circulating recombinant forms (CRF) were inferred from our alignments and compared to the HIV-1 consensus-of-consensuses sequence provided by GenBank. RESULTS: In all HIV-1 variants, the most conserved CS were PR/RT(p51), RT(p51)/RT(p66), P24/P2 and RT(p66)/IN and the least P2/P7 and P6 (pol) /PR. Conservation was significantly lower in subtypes vs. recombinants in P2/P7 and TFP/P6 (pol) and higher in P17/P24. We found a significantly higher conservation rate among Group M vs. non-M Groups HIV-1. The late processing sites at Gag (P7/P1) and GagPol precursors (PR/RT(p51)) presented a significantly higher conservation vs. the first CS (P2/P7) in the 4 HIV-1 groups. Here we show 52 highly conserved residues across HIV-1 variants in 11 CS and the amino acid consensus sequence in each HIV-1 group and HIV-1 group M variant for each 11 CS. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first study to describe the CS conservation level across all HIV-1 variants and 11 sites in one of the largest available sequence HIV-1 dataset. These results could help other researchers for the future design of both novel antiretroviral agents acting as maturation inhibitors as well as for vaccine targeting CS.
Project description:Resistance to various human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) protease inhibitors (PIs) challenges the effectiveness of therapies in treating HIV-1-infected individuals and AIDS patients. The virus accumulates mutations within the protease (PR) that render the PIs less potent. Occasionally, Gag sequences also coevolve with mutations at PR cleavage sites contributing to drug resistance. In this study, we investigated the structural basis of coevolution of the p1-p6 cleavage site with the nelfinavir (NFV) resistance D30N/N88D protease mutations by determining crystal structures of wild-type and NFV-resistant HIV-1 protease in complex with p1-p6 substrate peptide variants with L449F and/or S451N. Alterations of residue 30's interaction with the substrate are compensated by the coevolving L449F and S451N cleavage site mutations. This interdependency in the PR-p1-p6 interactions enhances intermolecular contacts and reinforces the overall fit of the substrate within the substrate envelope, likely enabling coevolution to sustain substrate recognition and cleavage in the presence of PR resistance mutations.Resistance to human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) protease inhibitors challenges the effectiveness of therapies in treating HIV-1-infected individuals and AIDS patients. Mutations in HIV-1 protease selected under the pressure of protease inhibitors render the inhibitors less potent. Occasionally, Gag sequences also mutate and coevolve with protease, contributing to maintenance of viral fitness and to drug resistance. In this study, we investigated the structural basis of coevolution at the Gag p1-p6 cleavage site with the nelfinavir (NFV) resistance D30N/N88D protease mutations. Our structural analysis reveals the interdependency of protease-substrate interactions and how coevolution may restore substrate recognition and cleavage in the presence of protease drug resistance mutations.
Project description:The structural and enzymatic proteins of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) are initially generated as two long polyproteins encoded from overlapping reading frames, one producing the structural proteins (Gag) and the second producing both structural and enzymatic proteins (Gag-Pol). The Gag to Gag-Pol ratio is critical for the proper assembly and maturation of viral particles. To minimize the risk of producing a replication competent lentivirus (RCL), we developed a "super-split" lentiviral packaging system in which Gag was separated from Pol with minimal loss of transducibility by supplying protease (PR) in trans independently of both Gag and Pol.In developing this "super-split" packaging system, we incorporated several new safety features that include removing the Gag/Gag-Pol frameshift, splitting the Gag, PR, and reverse transcriptase/integrase (RT/IN) functions onto separate plasmids, and greatly reducing the nucleotide sequence overlap between vector and Gag and between Gag and Pol. As part of the construction of this novel system, we used a truncated form of the accessory protein Vpr, which binds the P6 region of Gag, as a vehicle to deliver both PR and RT/IN as fusion proteins to the site of viral assembly and budding. We also replaced wt PR with a slightly less active T26S PR mutant in an effort to prevent premature processing and cytoxicity associated with wt PR. This novel "super-split" packaging system yielded lentiviral titers comparable to those generated by conventional lentiviral packaging where Gag-Pol is supplied intact (1.0 x 106 TU/ml, unconcentrated).Here, we were able to create a true "split-function" lentiviral packaging system that has the potential to be used for gene therapy applications. This novel system incorporates many new safety features while maintaining high titers. In addition, because PR is supplied in trans, this unique system may also provide opportunities to examine viral protein processing and maturation.
Project description:Processing of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Gag precursor is highly regulated, with differential rates of cleavage at the five major processing sites to give characteristic processing intermediates. We examined the role of the P1 amino acid in determining the rate of cleavage at each of these five sites by using libraries of mutants generated by site-directed mutagenesis. Between 12 and 17 substitution mutants were tested at each P1 position in Gag, using recombinant HIV-1 protease (PR) in an in vitro processing reaction of radiolabeled Gag substrate. There were three sites in Gag (MA/CA, CA/p2, NC/p1) where one or more substitutions mediated enhanced rates of cleavage, with an enhancement greater than 60-fold in the case of NC/p1. For the other two sites (p2/NC, p1/p6), the wild-type amino acid conferred optimal cleavage. The order of the relative rates of cleavage with the P1 amino acids Tyr, Met, and Leu suggests that processing sites can be placed into two groups and that the two groups are defined by the size of the P1' amino acid. These results point to a trans effect between the P1 and P1' amino acids that is likely to be a major determinant of the rate of cleavage at the individual sites and therefore also a determinant of the ordered cleavage of the Gag precursor.