Gag mutations strongly contribute to HIV-1 resistance to protease inhibitors in highly drug-experienced patients besides compensating for fitness loss.
ABSTRACT: 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: Mutations in the substrate of HIV-1 protease, especially changes in the NC/p1 cleavage site, can directly contribute to protease inhibitor (PI) resistance and also compensate for defects in viral replicative capacity (RC) due to a drug resistant protease. These NC/p1 changes are known to enhance processing of the Gag protein. To investigate the capacity of HIV-1 to modulate Gag cleavage and its consequences for PI resistance and RC, we performed a detailed enzymatic and virological analysis using a set of PI resistant NC/p1 variants (HXB2431V, HXB2436E+437T, HXB2437T and HXB2437V). RESULTS: Here, we demonstrate that single NC/p1 mutants, which displayed only a slight increase in PI resistance did not show an obvious change in RC. In contrast, the double NC/p1 mutant, which displayed a clear increase in processing efficiency and PI resistance, demonstrated a clear reduction in RC. Cleavage analysis showed that a tridecameric NC/p1 peptide representing the double NC/p1 mutant was cleaved in two specific ways instead of one.The observed decrease in RC for the double NC/p1 mutant (HXB2436E+437T) could (partially) be restored by either reversion of the 436E change or by acquisition of additional changes in the NC/p1 cleavage site at codon 435 or 438 as was revealed during in vitro evolution experiments. These changes not only restored RC but also reduced PI resistance levels. Furthermore these changes normalized Gag processing efficiency and obstructed the novel secondary cleavage site observed for the double NC/p1 mutant. CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study clearly demonstrate that HIV-1 can modulate Gag processing and thereby PI resistance. Distinct increases in Gag cleavage and PI resistance result in a reduced RC that can only be restored by amino acid changes in NC/p1 which reduce Gag processing to an optimal rate.
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:Drug resistance is an important cause of antiretroviral therapy failure in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients. Mutations in the protease render the virus resistant to protease inhibitors (PIs). Gag cleavage sites also mutate, sometimes correlating with resistance mutations in the protease, but their contribution to resistance has not been systematically analyzed. The present study examines mutations in Gag cleavage sites that associate with protease mutations and the impact of these associations on drug susceptibilities. Significant associations were observed between mutations in the nucleocapsid-p1 (NC-p1) and p1-p6 cleavage sites and various PI resistance-associated mutations in the protease. Several patterns were frequently observed, including mutations in the NC-p1 cleavage site in combination with I50L, V82A, and I84V within the protease and mutations within the p1-p6 cleavage site in combination with D30N, I50V, and I84V within the protease. For most patterns, viruses with mutations both in the protease and in either cleavage site were significantly less susceptible to specific PIs than viruses with mutations in the protease alone. Altered PI resistance in HIV-1 was found to be associated with the presence of Gag cleavage site mutations. These studies suggest that associated cleavage site mutations may contribute to PI susceptibility in highly specific ways depending on the particular combinations of mutations and inhibitors. Thus, cleavage site mutations should be considered when assessing the level of PI resistance.
Project description:GS-8374 is a potent HIV protease inhibitor (PI) with a unique diethyl-phosphonate moiety. Due to a balanced contribution of enthalpic and entropic components to its interaction with the protease (PR) active site, the compound retains activity against HIV mutants with high-level multi-PI resistance. We report here the in vitro selection and characterization of HIV variants resistant to GS-8374. While highly resistant viruses with multiple mutations in PR were isolated in the presence of control PIs, an HIV variant displaying moderate (14-fold) resistance to GS-8374 was generated only after prolonged passaging for >300 days. The isolate showed low-level cross-resistance to darunavir, atazanavir, lopinavir, and saquinavir, but not other PIs, and contained a single R41K mutation in PR combined with multiple genotypic changes in the Gag matrix, capsid, nucleocapsid, and SP2 domains. Mutations also occurred in the transframe peptide and p6* domain of the Gag-Pol polyprotein. Analysis of recombinant HIV variants indicated that mutations in Gag, but not the R41K in PR, conferred reduced susceptibility to GS-8374. The Gag mutations acted in concert, since they did not affect susceptibility when introduced individually. Analysis of viral particles revealed that the mutations rendered Gag more susceptible to PR-mediated cleavage in the presence of GS-8374. In summary, the emergence of resistance to GS-8374 involved a combination of substrate mutations without typical resistance mutations in PR. These substrate changes were distributed throughout Gag and acted in an additive manner. Thus, they are classified as primary resistance mutations indicating a unique mechanism and pathway of resistance development for GS-8374.
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: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:The major structural elements of retroviruses are contained in a single polyprotein, Gag, which in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) comprises the MA, CA, spacer peptide 1 (SP1), NC, SP2, and p6 polypeptides. In the immature HIV-1 virion, the domains of Gag are arranged radially with the N-terminal MA domain at the membrane and C-terminal NC-SP2-p6 region nearest to the center. Here, we report the three-dimensional structures of individual immature HIV-1 virions, as obtained by electron cryotomography. The concentric shells of the Gag polyprotein are clearly visible, and radial projections of the different Gag layers reveal patches of hexagonal order within the CA and SP1 shells. Averaging well-ordered unit cells leads to a model in which each CA hexamer is stabilized by a bundle of six SP1 helices. This model suggests why the SP1 spacer is essential for assembly of the Gag lattice and how cleavage between SP1 and CA acts as a structural switch controlling maturation.
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:Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) protease inhibitors (PIs) specifically target the HIV-1 protease enzyme. Mutations in the enzyme can result in PI resistance (termed PI mutations); however, mutations in the HIV-1 gag region, the substrate for the protease enzyme, might also lead to PI resistance. We analyzed gag and pol sequence data from the following 313 HIV-1-infected patients: 160 treatment-naïve patients, 93 patients failing antiretroviral treatment that included a PI (with no major PI mutations), and 60 patients failing antiretroviral treatment that included a PI (with major PI mutations). Additional sequences from 13 patients were included for longitudinal analysis. We assessed positive selection pressure on the gag/protease region using a test for the overall influence of positive selection and a total of five tests to identify positively selected single codons. We found that positive selection pressure was the driving evolutionary force for the gag region in all three patient groups. An increase in positive selection was observed in gag cleavage site regions p7/p1/p6 only after the acquisition of major PI mutations, suggesting that amino acids in gag cleavage sites under positive selection pressure could function as compensatory mutations for major PI mutations in the protease region. Isolated gag mutations did not appear to confer PI resistance, but mutations in the gag cleavage sites could substitute for minor PI resistance mutations in the protease region.
Project description: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.