Rous Sarcoma Virus Genomic RNA Dimerization Capability In Vitro Is Not a Prerequisite for Viral Infectivity.
ABSTRACT: Retroviruses package their full-length, dimeric genomic RNA (gRNA) via specific interactions between the Gag polyprotein and a "?" packaging signal located in the gRNA 5'-UTR. Rous sarcoma virus (RSV) gRNA has a contiguous, well-defined ? element, that directs the packaging of heterologous RNAs efficiently. The simplicity of RSV ? makes it an informative model to examine the mechanism of retroviral gRNA packaging, which is incompletely understood. Little is known about the structure of dimerization initiation sites or specific Gag interaction sites of RSV gRNA. Using selective 2'-hydroxyl acylation analyzed by primer extension (SHAPE), we probed the secondary structure of the entire RSV 5'-leader RNA for the first time. We identified a putative bipartite dimerization initiation signal (DIS), and mutation of both sites was required to significantly reduce dimerization in vitro. These mutations failed to reduce viral replication, suggesting that in vitro dimerization results do not strictly correlate with in vivo infectivity, possibly due to additional RNA interactions that maintain the dimers in cells. UV crosslinking-coupled SHAPE (XL-SHAPE) was next used to determine Gag-induced RNA conformational changes, revealing G218 as a critical Gag contact site. Overall, our results suggest that disruption of either of the DIS sequences does not reduce virus replication and reveal specific sites of Gag-RNA interactions.
Project description:BACKGROUND: One of the hallmarks of retroviral life cycle is the efficient and specific packaging of two copies of retroviral gRNA in the form of a non-covalent RNA dimer by the assembling virions. It is becoming increasingly clear that the process of dimerization is closely linked with gRNA packaging, and in some retroviruses, the latter depends on the former. Earlier mutational analysis of the 5' end of the MMTV genome indicated that MMTV gRNA packaging determinants comprise sequences both within the 5' untranslated region (5' UTR) and the beginning of gag. RESULTS: The RNA secondary structure of MMTV gRNA packaging sequences was elucidated employing selective 2'hydroxyl acylation analyzed by primer extension (SHAPE). SHAPE analyses revealed the presence of a U5/Gag long-range interaction (U5/Gag LRI), not predicted by minimum free-energy structure predictions that potentially stabilizes the global structure of this region. Structure conservation along with base-pair covariations between different strains of MMTV further supported the SHAPE-validated model. The 5' region of the MMTV gRNA contains multiple palindromic (pal) sequences that could initiate intermolecular interaction during RNA dimerization. In vitro RNA dimerization, SHAPE analysis, and structure prediction approaches on a series of pal mutants revealed that MMTV RNA utilizes a palindromic point of contact to initiate intermolecular interactions between two gRNAs, leading to dimerization. This contact point resides within pal II (5' CGGCCG 3') at the 5' UTR and contains a canonical "GC" dyad and therefore likely constitutes the MMTV RNA dimerization initiation site (DIS). Further analyses of these pal mutants employing in vivo genetic approaches indicate that pal II, as well as pal sequences located in the primer binding site (PBS) are both required for efficient MMTV gRNA packaging. CONCLUSIONS: Employing structural prediction, biochemical, and genetic approaches, we show that pal II functions as a primary point of contact between two MMTV RNAs, leading to gRNA dimerization and its subsequent encapsidation into the assembling virus particles. The results presented here enhance our understanding of the MMTV gRNA dimerization and packaging processes and the role of structural motifs with respect to RNA-RNA and possibly RNA-protein interactions that might be taking place during MMTV life cycle.
Project description:Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is the first retrovirus that has conclusively been shown to cause human diseases. In HIV-1, specific interactions between the nucleocapsid (NC) domain of the Gag protein and genomic RNA (gRNA) mediate gRNA dimerization and selective packaging; however, the mechanism for gRNA packaging in HTLV-1, a deltaretrovirus, is unclear. In other deltaretroviruses, the matrix (MA) and NC domains of Gag are both involved in gRNA packaging, but MA binds nucleic acids with higher affinity and has more robust chaperone activity, suggesting that this domain may play a primary role. Here, we show that the MA domain of HTLV-1, but not the NC domain, binds short hairpin RNAs derived from the putative gRNA packaging signal. RNA probing of the HTLV-1 5' leader and cross-linking studies revealed that the primer-binding site and a region within the putative packaging signal form stable hairpins that interact with MA. In addition to a previously identified palindromic dimerization initiation site (DIS), we identified a new DIS in HTLV-1 gRNA and found that both palindromic sequences bind specifically the NC domain. Surprisingly, a mutant partially defective in dimer formation in vitro exhibited a significant increase in RNA packaging into HTLV-1-like particles, suggesting that efficient RNA dimerization may not be strictly required for RNA packaging in HTLV-1. Moreover, the lifecycle of HTLV-1 and other deltaretroviruses may be characterized by NC and MA functions that are distinct from those of the corresponding HIV-1 proteins, but together provide the functions required for viral replication.
Project description:MPMV has great potential for development as a vector for gene therapy. In this respect, precisely defining the sequences and structural motifs that are important for dimerization and packaging of its genomic RNA (gRNA) are of utmost importance. A distinguishing feature of the MPMV gRNA packaging signal is two phylogenetically conserved long-range interactions (LRIs) between U5 and gag complementary sequences, LRI-I and LRI-II. To test their biological significance in the MPMV life cycle, we introduced mutations into these structural motifs and tested their effects on MPMV gRNA packaging and propagation. Furthermore, we probed the structure of key mutants using SHAPE (selective 2'hydroxyl acylation analyzed by primer extension). Disrupting base-pairing of the LRIs affected gRNA packaging and propagation, demonstrating their significance to the MPMV life cycle. A double mutant restoring a heterologous LRI-I was fully functional, whereas a similar LRI-II mutant failed to restore gRNA packaging and propagation. These results demonstrate that while LRI-I acts at the structural level, maintaining base-pairing is not sufficient for LRI-II function. In addition, in vitro RNA dimerization assays indicated that the loss of RNA packaging in LRI mutants could not be attributed to the defects in dimerization. Our findings suggest that U5-gag LRIs play an important architectural role in maintaining the structure of the 5' region of the MPMV gRNA, expanding the crucial role of LRIs to the nonlentiviral group of retroviruses.
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:Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infects many species of cat, and is related to HIV, causing a similar pathology. High-throughput selective 2' hydroxyl acylation analysed by primer extension (SHAPE), a technique that allows structural interrogation at each nucleotide, was used to map the secondary structure of the FIV packaging signal RNA. Previous studies of this RNA showed four conserved stem-loops, extensive long-range interactions (LRIs) and a small, palindromic stem-loop (SL5) within the gag open reading frame (ORF) that may act as a dimerization initiation site (DIS), enabling the virus to package two copies of its genome. Our analyses of wild-type (wt) and mutant RNAs suggest that although the four conserved stem-loops are static structures, the 5' and 3' regions previously shown to form LRI also adopt an alternative, yet similarly conserved conformation, in which the putative DIS is occluded, and which may thus favour translational and splicing functions over encapsidation. SHAPE and in vitro dimerization assays were used to examine SL5 mutants. Dimerization contacts appear to be made between palindromic loop sequences in SL5. As this stem-loop is located within the gag ORF, recognition of a dimeric RNA provides a possible mechanism for the specific packaging of genomic over spliced viral RNAs.
Project description:Earlier genetic and structural prediction analyses revealed that the packaging determinants of Mason Pfizer monkey virus (MPMV) include two discontinuous core regions at the 5' end of its genomic RNA. RNA secondary structure predictions suggested that these packaging determinants fold into several stem-loops (SLs). To experimentally validate this structural model, we employed selective 2' hydroxyl acylation analyzed by primer extension (SHAPE), which examines the flexibility of the RNA backbone at each nucleotide position. Our SHAPE data validated several predicted structural motifs, including U5/Gag long-range interactions (LRIs), a stretch of single-stranded purine (ssPurine)-rich region, and a distinctive G-C-rich palindromic (pal) SL. Minimum free-energy structure predictions, phylogenetic, and in silico modeling analyses of different MPMV strains revealed that the U5 and gag sequences involved in the LRIs differ minimally within strains and maintain a very high degree of complementarity. Since the pal SL forms a helix loop containing a canonical "GC" dyad, it may act as a RNA dimerization initiation site (DIS), enabling the virus to package two copies of its genome. Analyses of wild-type and pal mutant RNAs revealed that disruption of pal sequence strongly affected RNA dimerization. However, when in vitro transcribed trans-complementary pal mutants were incubated together showed RNA dimerization was restored authenticating that the pal loop (5'-CGGCCG-3') functions as DIS.
Project description:Retroviruses are positive-sense, single-stranded RNA viruses that reverse transcribe their RNA genomes into double-stranded DNA for integration into the host cell chromosome. The integrated provirus is used as a template for the transcription of viral RNA. The full-length viral RNA can be used for the translation of the Gag and Gag-Pol structural proteins or as the genomic RNA (gRNA) for encapsidation into new virions by the Gag protein. The mechanism by which Gag selectively incorporates unspliced gRNA into virus particles is poorly understood. Although Gag was previously thought to localize exclusively to the cytoplasm and plasma membrane where particles are released, we found that the Gag protein of Rous sarcoma virus, an alpharetrovirus, undergoes transient nuclear trafficking. When the nuclear export signal of RSV Gag is mutated (Gag.L219A), the protein accumulates in discrete subnuclear foci reminiscent of nuclear bodies such as splicing speckles, paraspeckles, and PML bodies. In this report, we observed that RSV Gag.L219A foci appeared to be tethered in the nucleus, partially co-localizing with the splicing speckle components SC35 and SF2. Overexpression of SC35 increased the number of Gag.L219A nucleoplasmic foci, suggesting that SC35 may facilitate the formation of Gag foci. We previously reported that RSV Gag nuclear trafficking is required for efficient gRNA packaging. Together with the data presented herein, our findings raise the intriguing hypothesis that RSV Gag may co-opt splicing factors to localize near transcription sites. Because splicing occurs co-transcriptionally, we speculate that this mechanism could allow Gag to associate with unspliced viral RNA shortly after its transcription initiation in the nucleus, before the viral RNA can be spliced or exported from the nucleus as an mRNA template.
Project description:The genome of the retroviruses is a dimer composed by two homologous copies of genomic RNA (gRNA) molecules of positive polarity. The dimerization process allows two gRNA molecules to be non-covalently linked together through intermolecular base-pairing. This step is critical for the viral life cycle and is highly conserved among retroviruses with the exception of spumaretroviruses. Furthermore, packaging of two gRNA copies into viral particles presents an important evolutionary advantage for immune system evasion and drug resistance. Recent studies reported RNA switches models regulating not only gRNA dimerization, but also translation and packaging, and a spatio-temporal characterization of viral gRNA dimerization within cells are now at hand. This review summarizes our current understanding on the structural features of the dimerization signals for a variety of retroviruses (HIVs, MLV, RSV, BLV, MMTV, MPMV…), the mechanisms of RNA dimer formation and functional implications in the retroviral cycle.
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:During replication of long terminal repeat (LTR)-retrotransposons, their proteins and genome (g) RNA assemble into virus-like particles (VLPs) that are not infectious but functionally related to retroviral virions. Both virions and VLPs contain gRNA in a dimeric form, but contrary to retroviruses, little is known about how gRNA dimerization and packaging occurs in LTR-retrotransposons. The LTR-retrotransposon Ty1 from Saccharomyces cerevisiae is an informative model for studying LTR-retrotransposon and retrovirus replication. Using structural, mutational and functional analyses, we explored dimerization of Ty1 genomic RNA. We provide direct evidence that interactions of self-complementary PAL1 and PAL2 palindromic sequences localized within the 5'UTR are essential for Ty1 gRNA dimer formation. Mutations disrupting PAL1-PAL2 complementarity restricted RNA dimerization in vitro and Ty1 mobility in vivo. Although dimer formation and mobility of these mutants was inhibited, our work suggests that Ty1 RNA can dimerize via alternative contact points. In contrast to previous studies, we cannot confirm a role for PAL3, tRNAiMet as well as recently proposed initial kissing-loop interactions in dimer formation. Our data also supports the critical role of Ty1 Gag in RNA dimerization. Mature Ty1 Gag binds in the proximity of sequences involved in RNA dimerization and tRNAiMet annealing, but the 5' pseudoknot in Ty1 RNA may constitute a preferred Gag-binding site. Taken together, these results expand our understanding of genome dimerization and packaging strategies utilized by LTR-retroelements.