RNA aptamers directed to human immunodeficiency virus type 1 Gag polyprotein bind to the matrix and nucleocapsid domains and inhibit virus production.
ABSTRACT: Gag orchestrates the assembly and release of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) particles. We explored here the potential of anti-Gag RNA aptamers to inhibit HIV-1 replication. In vitro, RNA aptamers raised against an HIV-1 Gag protein, lacking the N-terminal myristate and the C-terminal p6 (DP6-Gag), could bind to matrix protein (MA), nucleocapsid protein (NC), or entire DP6-Gag protein. Upon cotransfection with pNL4-3.Luc molecular clone into 293T cells, six of the aptamers caused mild inhibition (2- to 3-fold) in the extracellular capsid levels, and one aptamer displayed 20-fold inhibition. The reduction was not due to a release defect but reflected Gag mRNA levels. We hypothesized that the aptamers influence genomic RNA levels via perturbation of specific Gag-genomic RNA interactions. Binding studies revealed that the "NC-binders" specifically compete with the packaging signal (?) of HIV-1 for binding to DP6-Gag. Therefore, we tested the ability of two NC-binders to inhibit viruses containing ?-region deletions (?SL1 or ?SL3) and found that the NC-binders were no longer able to inhibit Gag synthesis. The inability of these aptamers to inhibit ?-deleted viruses correlated with the absence of competition with the corresponding ? transcripts lacking SL1 or SL3 for binding DP6-Gag in vitro. These results indicate that the NC-binding aptamers disrupt Gag-genomic RNA interaction and negatively affect genomic RNA transcription, processing, or stability. Our results reveal an essential interaction between HIV-1 Gag and the ?-region that may be distinct from that which occurs during the encapsidation of genomic RNA. Thus, anti-Gag aptamers can be an effective tool to perturb Gag-genomic RNA interactions.
Project description:HIV-1 is a retrovirus replicating within cells by reverse transcribing its genomic RNA (gRNA) into DNA. Within cells, virus assembly requires the structural Gag proteins with few accessory proteins, notably the viral infectivity factor (Vif) and two copies of gRNA as well as cellular factors to converge to the plasma membrane. In this process, the nucleocapsid (NC) domain of Gag binds to the packaging signal of gRNA which consists of a series of stem-loops (SL1-SL3) ensuring gRNA selection and packaging into virions. Interestingly, mutating NC activates a late-occurring reverse transcription (RT) step in producer cells, leading to the release of DNA-containing HIV-1 particles. In order to decipher the molecular mechanism regulating this late RT, we explored the role of several key partners of NC, such as Vif, gRNA and the cellular cytidine deaminase APOBEC3G that restricts HIV-1 infection by targeting the RT. By studying combinations of deletions of these putative players, we revealed that NC, SL1-SL3 and in lesser extent Vif, but not APOBEC3G, interplay regulates the late RT.
Project description:The nature of specific RNA-RNA and protein-RNA interactions involved in the process of genome dimerization and isomerization in HIV-1, which is mediated in vitro by stemloop 1 (SL1) of the packaging signal and by the nucleocapsid (NC) domain of the viral Gag polyprotein, was investigated by using archetypical nucleic acid ligands as noncovalent probes. Small-molecule ligands make contact with their target substrates through complex combinations of H-bonds, salt bridges, and hydrophobic interactions. Therefore, their binding patterns assessed by electrospray ionization mass spectrometry can provide valuable insights into the factors determining specific recognition between species involved in biopolymer assemblies. In the case of SL1, dimerization and isomerization create unique structural features capable of sustaining stable interactions with classic nucleic acid ligands. The binding modes exhibited by intercalators and minor groove binders were adversely affected by the significant distortion of the duplex formed by palindrome annealing in the kissing-loop (KL) dimer, whereas the modes observed for the corresponding extended duplex (ED) confirmed a more regular helical structure. Consistent with the ability to establish electrostatic interactions with highly negative pockets typical of helix anomalies, polycationic aminoglycosides bound to the stem-bulge motif conserved in all SL1 conformers, to the unpaired nucleotides located at the hinge between kissing hairpins in KL, and to the exposed bases flanking the palindrome duplex in ED. The patterns afforded by intercalators and minor groove binders did not display detectable variations when the corresponding NC-SL1 complexes were submitted to probing. In contrast, aminoglycosides displayed the ability to compete with the protein for overlapping sites, producing opposite effects on the isomerization process. Indeed, displacing NC from the stem-bulges of the KL dimer induced inhibition of stem melting and decreased the efficiency of isomerization. Competition for the hinge region, instead, eliminated the NC stabilization of a grip motif formed by nucleobases of opposite strands, thus facilitating the strand-exchange required for isomerization. These noncovalent probes provided further evidence that the structural context of the actual binding sites has significant influence on the chaperone activities of NC, which should be taken in account when developing potential drug candidates aimed at disrupting genome dimerization and isomerization in HIV-1.
Project description:The mature nucleocapsid protein of HIV-1, NCp7, and the NC domains in gag precursors are attractive targets for anti-AIDS drug discovery. The stability of the 1:1 complex of NCp7 with a 20mer mimic of stem-loop 3 RNA (SL3, also called psi-RNA, in the packaging domain of genomic RNA) is strongly affected by changes in ionic strength. NC domains recognize and specifically package genomic HIV-1 RNA, while electrostatic attractions and high concentrations of protein and RNA drive NCp7 to completely coat the RNA in the mature virion. The specific interactions of NCp7 binding to loop bases of SL3 produce 1:1 complexes in solutions that have a NaCl concentration of >or=0.2 M, while the electrostatic interactions can dominate at <or=0.15 M NaCl, leading to complexes that have a mainly 1:2 RNA:protein ratio. Persistent, nonequilibrium mixtures of 1:1 and protein-excess complexes can exist at these lower salt concentrations, where the distribution of complexes depends on the order of addition of RNA and protein. Adding salt causes rapid rearrangement of metastable multiprotein complexes to a 1:1 ratio. The stability of complexes is also affected by the nature of the added salt, with 0.018 M MgCl(2) and added 0.200 M NaCl producing the same K(d) (21 +/- 2 nM); acetate ion stabilizes the 1:1 complex by a factor of more than 2 compared to the same concentration of chloride ion. Maintaining a salt concentration of 0.2 M NaCl or 18 mM MgCl(2) is sufficient for experiments to distinguish drug candidates that disrupt the specific SL3-NCp7 interactions in the 1:1 complex.
Project description:The viral genome of HIV-1 contains several secondary structures that are important for regulating viral replication. The stem-loop 1 (SL1) sequence in the 5' untranslated region directs HIV-1 genomic RNA dimerization and packaging into the virion. Without SL1, HIV-1 cannot replicate in human T cell lines. The replication restriction phenotype in the SL1 deletion mutant appears to be multifactorial, with defects in viral RNA dimerization and packaging in producer cells as well as in reverse transcription of the viral RNA in infected cells. In this study, we sought to characterize SL1 mutant replication restrictions and provide insights into the underlying mechanisms of compensation in revertants.HIV-1 lacking SL1 (NL?SL1) did not replicate in PM-1 cells until two independent non-synonymous mutations emerged: G913A in the matrix domain (E42K) on day 18 postinfection and C1907T in the SP1 domain (P10L) on day 11 postinfection. NL?SL1 revertants carrying either compensatory mutation showed enhanced infectivity in PM-1 cells. The SL1 revertants produced significantly more infectious particles per nanogram of p24 than did NL?SL1. The SL1 deletion mutant packaged less HIV-1 genomic RNA and more cellular RNA, particularly signal recognition particle RNA, in the virion than the wild-type. NL?SL1 also packaged 3- to 4-fold more spliced HIV mRNA into the virion, potentially interfering with infectious virus production. In contrast, both revertants encapsidated 2.5- to 5-fold less of these HIV-1 mRNA species. Quantitative RT-PCR analysis of RNA cross-linked with Gag in formaldehyde-fixed cells demonstrated that the compensatory mutations reduced the association between Gag and spliced HIV-1 RNA, thereby effectively preventing these RNAs from being packaged into the virion. The reduction of spliced viral RNA in the virion may have a major role in facilitating infectious virus production, thus restoring the infectivity of NL?SL1.HIV-1 evolved to overcome a deletion in SL1 and restored infectivity by acquiring compensatory mutations in the N-terminal matrix or SP1 domain of Gag. These data shed light on the functions of the N-terminal matrix and SP1 domains and suggest that both regions may have a role in Gag interactions with spliced viral RNA.
Project description:NSC260594, a quinolinium derivative from the NCI diversity set II compound library, was previously identified in a target-based assay as an inhibitor of the interaction between the HIV-1 (?) stem-loop 3 (SL3) RNA and Gag. This compound was shown to exhibit potent antiviral activity. Here, the effects of this compound on individual stages of the viral lifecycle were examined by qRT-PCR, ELISA and Western blot, to see if its actions were specific to the viral packaging stage. The structural effects of NSC260594 binding to the HIV-1 gRNA were also examined by SHAPE and dimerization assays.Treatment of cells with NSC260594 did not reduce the number of integration events of incoming virus, and treatment of virus producing cells did not affect the level of intracellular Gag protein or viral particle release as determined by immunoblot. However, NSC260594 reduced the incorporation of gRNA into virions by up to 82%, without affecting levels of gRNA inside the cell. This reduction in packaging correlated closely with the reduction in infectivity of the released viral particles. To establish the structural effects of NSC260594 on the HIV-1 gRNA, we performed SHAPE analyses to pinpoint RNA structural changes. NSC260594 had a stabilizing effect on the wild type RNA that was not confined to SL3, but that was propagated across the structure. A packaging mutant lacking SL3 did not show this effect.NSC260594 acts as a specific inhibitor of HIV-1 RNA packaging. No other viral functions are affected. Its action involves preventing the interaction of Gag with SL3 by stabilizing this small RNA stem-loop which then leads to stabilization of the global packaging signal region (psi or ?). This confirms data, previously only shown in analyses of isolated SL3 oligonucleotides, that SL3 is structurally labile in the presence of Gag and that this is critical for the complete psi region to be able to adopt different conformations. Since replication is otherwise unaffected by NSC260594 the flexibility of SL3 appears to be a unique requirement for genome encapsidation and identifies this process as a highly specific drug target. This study is proof of principle that development of a new class of antiretroviral drugs that specifically target viral packaging by binding to the viral genomic RNA is achievable.
Project description:In addition to genomic RNA, HIV-1 particles package cellular and spliced viral RNAs. In order to determine the encapsidation mechanisms of these RNAs, we determined the packaging efficiencies and specificities of genomic RNA, singly and fully spliced HIV mRNAs and different host RNAs species: 7SL RNA, U6 snRNA and GAPDH mRNA using RT-QPCR. Except GAPDH mRNA, all RNAs are selectively encapsidated. Singly spliced RNAs, harboring the Rev-responsible element, and fully spliced viral RNAs, which do not contain this motif, are enriched in virions to similar levels, even though they are exported from the nucleus by different routes. Deletions of key motifs (SL1 and/or SL3) of the packaging signal of genomic RNA indicate that HIV and host RNAs are encapsidated through independent mechanisms, while genomic and spliced viral RNA compete for the same trans-acting factor due to the presence of the 5' common exon containing the TAR, poly(A) and U5-PBS hairpins. Surprisingly, the RNA dimerization initiation site (DIS/SL1) appears to be the main packaging determinant of genomic RNA, but is not involved in packaging of spliced viral RNAs, suggesting a functional interaction with intronic sequences. Active and selective packaging of host and spliced viral RNAs provide new potential functions to these RNAs in the early stages of the virus life cycle.
Project description:Genomic RNA dimerization is an important process in the formation of an infectious lentiviral particle. One of the signals involved is the stem-loop 1 (SL1) element located in the leader region of lentiviral genomic RNAs which also plays a role in encapsidation and reverse transcription. Recent studies revealed that HIV types 1 and 2 leader RNAs adopt different conformations that influence the presentation of RNA signals such as SL1. To determine whether common mechanisms of SL1 regulation exist among divergent lentiviral leader RNAs, here we compare the dimerization properties of SIVmac239, HIV-1, and HIV-2 leader RNA fragments using homologous constructs and experimental conditions. Prior studies from several groups have employed a variety of constructs and experimental conditions.Although some idiosyncratic differences in the dimerization details were observed, we find unifying principles in the regulation strategies of the three viral RNAs through long- and short-range base pairing interactions. Presentation and efficacy of dimerization through SL1 depends strongly upon the formation or dissolution of the lower stem of SL1 called stem B. SL1 usage may also be down-regulated by long-range interactions involving sequences between SL1 and the first codons of the gag gene.Despite their sequence differences, all three lentiviral RNAs tested in this study showed a local regulation of dimerization through the stabilization of SL1.
Project description:During HIV-1 assembly, Gag polypeptides multimerize to form an immature capsid and also package HIV-1 genomic RNA. Assembling Gag forms immature capsids by progressing through a stepwise pathway of assembly intermediates containing the cellular ATPase ABCE1, which facilitates capsid formation. The NC domain of Gag is required for ABCE1 binding, acting either directly or indirectly. NC is also critical for Gag multimerization and RNA binding. Previous studies of GagZip chimeric proteins in which NC was replaced with a heterologous leucine zipper that promotes protein dimerization but not RNA binding established that the RNA binding properties of NC are dispensable for capsid formation per se. Here we utilized GagZip proteins to address the question of whether the RNA binding properties of NC are required for ABCE1 binding and for the formation of ABCE1-containing capsid assembly intermediates. We found that assembly-competent HIV-1 GagZip proteins formed ABCE1-containing intermediates, while assembly-incompetent HIV-1 GagZip proteins harboring mutations in residues critical for leucine zipper dimerization did not. Thus, these data suggest that ABCE1 does not bind to NC directly or through an RNA bridge, and they support a model in which dimerization of Gag, mediated by NC or a zipper, results in exposure of an ABCE1-binding domain located elsewhere in Gag, outside NC. Additionally, we demonstrated that immature capsids formed by GagZip proteins are insensitive to RNase A, as expected. However, unexpectedly, immature HIV-1 capsids were almost as insensitive to RNase A as GagZip capsids, suggesting that RNA is not a structural element holding together immature wild-type HIV-1 capsids.
Project description:The structure of HIV-1 Psi-RNA has been elucidated by a concerted approach combining structural probes with mass spectrometric detection (MS3D), which is not affected by the size and crystallization properties of target biomolecules. Distance constraints from bifunctional cross-linkers provided the information required for assembling an all-atom model from the high-resolution coordinates of separate domains by triangulating their reciprocal placement in 3D space. The resulting structure revealed a compact cloverleaf morphology stabilized by a long-range tertiary interaction between the GNRA tetraloop of stemloop 4 (SL4) and the upper stem of stemloop 1 (SL1). The preservation of discrete stemloop structures ruled out the possibility that major rearrangements might produce a putative supersite with enhanced affinity for the nucleocapsid (NC) domain of the viral Gag polyprotein, which would drive genome recognition and packaging. The steric situation of single-stranded regions exposed on the cloverleaf structure offered a valid explanation for the stoichiometry exhibited by full-length Psi-RNA in the presence of NC. The participation of SL4 in a putative GNRA loop-receptor interaction provided further indications of the plasticity of this region of genomic RNA, which can also anneal with upstream sequences to stabilize alternative conformations of the 5' untranslated region (5'-UTR). Considering the ability to sustain specific NC binding, the multifaceted activities supported by the SL4 sequence suggest a mechanism by which Gag could actively participate in regulating the vital functions mediated by 5'-UTR. Substantiated by the 3D structure of Psi-RNA, the central role played by SL4 in specific RNA-RNA and protein-RNA interactions advances this domain as a primary target for possible therapeutic intervention.
Project description:The Mason-Pfizer monkey virus (MPMV) genomic RNA (gRNA) packaging signal is a highly-structured element with several stem-loops held together by two phylogenetically conserved long-range interactions (LRIs) between U5 and gag complementary sequences. These LRIs play a critical role in maintaining the structure of the 5´ end of the MPMV gRNA. Thus, one could hypothesize that the overall RNA secondary structure of this region is further architecturally held together by three other stem loops (SL3, Gag SL1, and Gag SL2) comprising of sequences from the distal parts of the 5´untranslated region (5' UTR) to ~ 120 nucleotides into gag, excluding gag sequences involved in forming the U5-Gag LRIs. To provide functional evidence for the biological significance of these stem loops during gRNA encapsidation, these structural motifs were mutated and their effects on MPMV RNA packaging and propagation were tested in a single round trans-complementation assay. The mutant RNA structures were further studied by high throughput SHAPE (hSHAPE) assay. Our results reveal that sequences involved in forming these three stem loops do not play crucial roles at an individual level during MPMV gRNA packaging or propagation. Further structure-function analysis indicates that the U5-Gag LRIs have a more important architectural role in stabilizing the higher order structure of the 5´ UTR than the three stem loops which have a more secondary and perhaps indirect role in stabilizing the overall RNA secondary structure of the region. Our work provides a better understanding of the molecular interactions that take place during MPMV gRNA packaging.