Basic residues of the retroviral nucleocapsid play different roles in gag-gag and Gag-Psi RNA interactions.
ABSTRACT: The Orthoretrovirus Gag interaction (I) domain maps to the nucleocapsid (NC) domain in the Gag polyprotein. We used the yeast two-hybrid system to analyze the role of Alpharetrovirus NC in Gag-Gag interactions and also examined the efficiency of viral assembly and release in vivo. We could delete either or both of the two Cys-His (CH) boxes without abrogating Gag-Gag interactions. We found that as few as eight clustered basic residues, attached to the C terminus of the spacer peptide separating the capsid (CA) and NC domains in the absence of NC, was sufficient for Gag-Gag interactions. Our results support the idea that a sufficient number of basic residues, rather than the CH boxes, play the important role in Gag multimerization. We also examined the requirement for basic residues in Gag for packaging of specific packaging signal (Psi)-containing RNA. Using a yeast three-hybrid RNA-protein interaction assay, second-site suppressors of a packaging-defective Gag mutant were isolated, which restored Psi RNA binding. These suppressors mapped to the p10 or CA domains in Gag and resulted in either introduction of a positively charged residue or elimination of a negatively charged one. These results imply that the structural interactions of NC with other domains of Gag are necessary for Psi RNA binding. Taken together, our results show that while Gag assembly only requires a certain number of positively charged amino acids, Gag binding to genomic RNA for packaging requires more complex interactions inherent in the protein tertiary structure.
Project description:In the context of the Rous sarcoma virus Gag polyprotein, only the nucleocapsid (NC) domain is required to mediate the specificity of genomic RNA packaging. We have previously showed that the Saccharomyces cerevisiae three-hybrid system provides a rapid genetic assay to analyze the RNA and protein components of the avian retroviral RNA-Gag interactions necessary for specific encapsidation. In this study, using both site-directed mutagenesis and in vivo random screening in the yeast three-hybrid binding assay, we have examined the amino acids in NC required for genomic RNA binding. We found that we could delete either of the two Cys-His boxes without greatly abrogating either RNA binding or packaging, although the two Cys-His boxes are likely to be required for efficient viral assembly and release. In contrast, substitutions for the Zn-coordinating residues within the boxes did prevent RNA binding, suggesting changes in the overall conformation of the protein. In the basic region between the two Cys-His boxes, three positively charged residues, as well as basic residues flanking the two boxes, were necessary for both binding and packaging. Our results suggest that the stretches of positively charged residues within NC that need to be in a proper conformation appear to be responsible for selective recognition and binding to the packaging signal (Psi)-containing RNAs.
Project description:The assembly and release of retrovirus particles from the cell membrane is directed by the Gag polyprotein. The Gag protein of Rous sarcoma virus (RSV) traffics through the nucleus prior to plasma membrane localization. We previously reported that nuclear localization of RSV Gag is linked to efficient packaging of viral genomic RNA, however the intranuclear activities of RSV Gag are not well understood. To gain insight into the properties of the RSV Gag protein within the nucleus, we examined the subnuclear localization and dynamic trafficking of RSV Gag. Restriction of RSV Gag to the nucleus by mutating its nuclear export signal (NES) in the p10 domain or interfering with CRM1-mediated nuclear export of Gag by leptomycin B (LMB) treatment led to the accumulation of Gag in nucleoli and discrete nucleoplasmic foci. Retention of RSV Gag in nucleoli was reduced with cis-expression of the 5' untranslated RU5 region of the viral RNA genome, suggesting the psi (?) packaging signal may alter the subnuclear localization of Gag. Fluorescence recovery after photobleaching (FRAP) demonstrated that the nucleolar fraction of Gag was highly mobile, indicating that there was rapid exchange with Gag proteins in the nucleoplasm. RSV Gag is targeted to nucleoli by a nucleolar localization signal (NoLS) in the NC domain, and similarly, the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) NC protein also contains an NoLS consisting of basic residues. Interestingly, co-expression of HIV-1 NC or Rev with HIV-1 Gag resulted in accumulation of Gag in nucleoli. Moreover, a subpopulation of HIV-1 Gag was detected in the nucleoli of HeLa cells stably expressing the entire HIV-1 genome in a Rev-dependent fashion. These findings suggest that the RSV and HIV-1 Gag proteins undergo nucleolar trafficking in the setting of viral infection.
Project description:The RNA packaging process for retroviruses involves a recognition event of the genome-length viral RNA by the viral Gag polyprotein precursor (PrGag), an important step in particle morphogenesis. The mechanism underlying this genome recognition event for most retroviruses is thought to involve an interaction between the nucleocapsid (NC) domain of PrGag and stable RNA secondary structures that form the RNA packaging signal. Presently, there is limited information regarding PrGag-RNA interactions involved in RNA packaging for the deltaretroviruses, which include bovine leukemia virus (BLV) and human T-cell leukemia virus types 1 and 2 (HTLV-1 and -2, respectively). To address this, alanine-scanning mutagenesis of BLV PrGag was done with a virus-like particle (VLP) system. As predicted, mutagenesis of conserved basic residues as well as residues of the zinc finger domains in the BLV NC domain of PrGag revealed residues that led to a reduction in viral RNA packaging. Interestingly, when conserved basic residues in the BLV MA domain of PrGag were mutated to alanine or glycine, but not when mutated to another basic residue, reductions in viral RNA packaging were also observed. The ability of PrGag to be targeted to the cell membrane was not affected by these mutations in MA, indicating that PrGag membrane targeting was not associated with the reduction in RNA packaging. These observations indicate that these basic residues in the MA domain of PrGag influence RNA packaging, without influencing Gag membrane localization. It was further observed that (i) a MA/NC double mutant had a more severe RNA packaging defect than either mutant alone, and (ii) RNA packaging was not found to be associated with transient localization of Gag in the nucleus. In summary, this report provides the first direct evidence for the involvement of both the BLV MA and NC domains of PrGag in viral RNA packaging.
Project description:Retroviruses specifically package full-length, dimeric genomic RNA (gRNA) even in the presence of a vast excess of cellular RNA. The "psi" (?) element within the 5'-untranslated region (5'UTR) of gRNA is critical for packaging through interaction with the nucleocapsid (NC) domain of Gag. However, in vitro Gag binding affinity for ? versus non-? RNAs is not significantly different. Previous salt-titration binding assays revealed that human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Gag bound to ? RNA with high specificity and relatively few charge interactions, whereas binding to non-? RNA was less specific and involved more electrostatic interactions. The NC domain was critical for specific ? binding, but surprisingly, a Gag mutant lacking the matrix (MA) domain was less effective at discriminating ? from non-? RNA. We now find that Rous sarcoma virus (RSV) Gag also effectively discriminates RSV ? from non-? RNA in a MA-dependent manner. Interestingly, Gag chimeras, wherein the HIV-1 and RSV MA domains were swapped, maintained high binding specificity to cognate ? RNAs. Using ? RNA mutant constructs, determinants responsible for promoting high Gag binding specificity were identified in both systems. Taken together, these studies reveal the functional equivalence of HIV-1 and RSV MA domains in facilitating ? RNA selectivity by Gag, as well as ? elements that promote this selectivity.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>The nucleocapsid (NC) domain of HIV-1 Gag is responsible for specific recognition and packaging of genomic RNA (gRNA) into new viral particles. This occurs through specific interactions between the Gag NC domain and the Psi packaging signal in gRNA. In addition to this critical function, NC proteins are also nucleic acid (NA) chaperone proteins that facilitate NA rearrangements during reverse transcription. Although the interaction with Psi and chaperone activity of HIV-1 NC have been well characterized in vitro, little is known about simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) NC. Non-human primates are frequently used as a platform to study retroviral infection in vivo; thus, it is important to understand underlying mechanistic differences between HIV-1 and SIV NC.<h4>Results</h4>Here, we characterize SIV NC chaperone activity for the first time. Only modest differences are observed in the ability of SIV NC to facilitate reactions that mimic the minus-strand annealing and transfer steps of reverse transcription relative to HIV-1 NC, with the latter displaying slightly higher strand transfer and annealing rates. Quantitative single molecule DNA stretching studies and dynamic light scattering experiments reveal that these differences are due to significantly increased DNA compaction energy and higher aggregation capability of HIV-1 NC relative to the SIV protein. Using salt-titration binding assays, we find that both proteins are strikingly similar in their ability to specifically interact with HIV-1 Psi RNA. In contrast, they do not demonstrate specific binding to an RNA derived from the putative SIV packaging signal.<h4>Conclusions</h4>Based on these studies, we conclude that (1) HIV-1 NC is a slightly more efficient NA chaperone protein than SIV NC, (2) mechanistic differences between the NA interactions of highly similar retroviral NC proteins are revealed by quantitative single molecule DNA stretching, and (3) SIV NC demonstrates cross-species recognition of the HIV-1 Psi RNA packaging signal.
Project description:Retroviral Gag polyproteins coopt host factors to traffic from cytosolic ribosomes to the plasma membrane, where virions are released. Before membrane transport, the multidomain Gag protein of Rous sarcoma virus (RSV) undergoes importin-mediated nuclear import and CRM1-dependent nuclear export, an intrinsic step in the assembly pathway. Transient nuclear trafficking of Gag is required for efficient viral RNA (vRNA) encapsidation, suggesting that Gag:vRNA binding might occur in the nucleus. Here, we show that Gag is imported into the nucleus through direct interactions of the Gag NC domain with importin-alpha (imp-alpha) and the MA domain with importin-11 (imp-11). The vRNA packaging signal, known as psi, inhibited imp-alpha binding to Gag, indicating that the NC domain does not bind to imp-alpha and vRNA simultaneously. Unexpectedly, vRNA binding also prevented the association of imp-11 with both the MA domain alone and with Gag, suggesting that the MA domain may bind to the vRNA genome. In contrast, direct binding of Gag to the nuclear export factor CRM1, via the CRM1-RanGTP heterodimer, was stimulated by psiRNA. These findings suggest a model whereby the genomic vRNA serves as a switch to regulate the ordered association of host import/export factors that mediate Gag nucleocytoplasmic trafficking for virion assembly. The Gag:vRNA interaction appears to serve multiple critical roles in assembly: specific selection of the vRNA genome for packaging, stimulating the formation of Gag dimers, and triggering export of viral ribonucleoprotein complexes from the nucleus.
Project description:The retroviral nucleocapsid (NC) protein is necessary for the specific encapsidation of the viral genomic RNA by the assembling virion. However, it is unclear whether NC contains the determinants for the specific recognition of the viral RNA or instead contributes nonspecific RNA contacts to strengthen a specific contact made elsewhere in the Gag polyprotein. To discriminate between these two possibilities, we have swapped the NC domains of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and Moloney murine leukemia virus (M-MuLV), generating an HIV-1 mutant containing the M-MuLV NC domain and an M-MuLV mutant containing the HIV-1 NC domain. These mutants, as well as several others, were characterized for their abilities to encapsidate HIV-1, M-MuLV, and nonviral RNAs and to preferentially package genomic viral RNAs over spliced viral RNAs. We found that the M-MuLV NC domain mediates the specific packaging of RNAs containing the M-MuLV psi packaging element, while the HIV-1 NC domain confers an ability to package the unspliced HIV-1 RNA over spliced HIV-1 RNAs. In addition, we found that the HIV-1 mutant containing the M-MuLV NC domain exhibited a 20-fold greater ability than wild-type HIV-1 to package a nonviral RNA. These results help confirm the notion that the NC domain specifically recognizes the retroviral genomic RNA during RNA encapsidation.
Project description:A specific interaction between the nucleocapsid (NC) domain of the Gag polyprotein and the RNA encapsidation signal (Psi) is required for preferential incorporation of the retroviral genomic RNA into the assembled virion. Using the yeast three-hybrid system, we developed a genetic screen to detect human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Gag mutants with altered RNA binding specificities. Specifically, we randomly mutated full-length HIV-1 Gag or its NC portion and screened the mutants for an increase in affinity for the Harvey murine sarcoma virus encapsidation signal. These screens identified several NC zinc finger mutants with altered RNA binding specificities. Furthermore, additional zinc finger mutants that also demonstrated this phenotype were made by site-directed mutagenesis. The majority of these mutants were able to produce normal virion-like particles; however, when tested in a single-cycle infection assay, some of the mutants demonstrated higher transduction efficiencies than that of wild-type Gag. In particular, the N17K mutant showed a seven- to ninefold increase in transduction, which correlated with enhanced vector RNA packaging. This mutant also packaged larger amounts of foreign RNA. Our results emphasize the importance of the NC zinc fingers, and not other Gag sequences, in achieving specificity in the genome encapsidation process. In addition, the described mutations may contribute to our understanding of HIV diversity resulting from recombination events between copackaged viral genomes and foreign RNA.
Project description:All retroviral genomic RNAs contain a cis-acting packaging signal by which dimeric genomes are selectively packaged into nascent virions. However, it is not understood how Gag (the viral structural protein) interacts with these signals to package the genome with high selectivity. We probed the structure of murine leukemia virus RNA inside virus particles using SHAPE, a high-throughput RNA structure analysis technology. These experiments showed that NC (the nucleic acid binding domain derived from Gag) binds within the virus to the sequence UCUG-UR-UCUG. Recombinant Gag and NC proteins bound to this same RNA sequence in dimeric RNA in vitro; in all cases, interactions were strongest with the first U and final G in each UCUG element. The RNA structural context is critical: High-affinity binding requires base-paired regions flanking this motif, and two UCUG-UR-UCUG motifs are specifically exposed in the viral RNA dimer. Mutating the guanosine residues in these two motifs--only four nucleotides per genomic RNA--reduced packaging 100-fold, comparable to the level of nonspecific packaging. These results thus explain the selective packaging of dimeric RNA. This paradigm has implications for RNA recognition in general, illustrating how local context and RNA structure can create information-rich recognition signals from simple single-stranded sequence elements in large RNAs.
Project description:Selective packaging of HIV-1 genomic RNA (gRNA) requires the presence of a cis-acting RNA element called the 'packaging signal' (?). However, the mechanism by which ? promotes selective packaging of the gRNA is not well understood. We used fluorescence correlation spectroscopy and quenching data to monitor the binding of recombinant HIV-1 Gag protein to Cy5-tagged 190-base RNAs. At physiological ionic strength, Gag binds with very similar, nanomolar affinities to both ?-containing and control RNAs. We challenged these interactions by adding excess competing tRNA; introducing mutations in Gag; or raising the ionic strength. These modifications all revealed high specificity for ?. This specificity is evidently obscured in physiological salt by non-specific, predominantly electrostatic interactions. This nonspecific activity was attenuated by mutations in the MA, CA, and NC domains, including CA mutations disrupting Gag-Gag interaction. We propose that gRNA is selectively packaged because binding to ? nucleates virion assembly with particular efficiency.