Overview of the Nucleic-Acid Binding Properties of the HIV-1 Nucleocapsid Protein in Its Different Maturation States.
ABSTRACT: HIV-1 Gag polyprotein orchestrates the assembly of viral particles. Its C-terminus consists of the nucleocapsid (NC) domain that interacts with nucleic acids, and p1 and p6, two unstructured regions, p6 containing the motifs to bind ALIX, the cellular ESCRT factor TSG101 and the viral protein Vpr. The processing of Gag by the viral protease subsequently liberates NCp15 (NC-p1-p6), NCp9 (NC-p1) and NCp7, NCp7 displaying the optimal chaperone activity of nucleic acids. This review focuses on the nucleic acid binding properties of the NC domain in the different maturation states during the HIV-1 viral cycle.
Project description:During human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) maturation, three different forms of nucleocapsid (NC) protein-NCp15 (p9 + p6), NCp9 (p7 + SP2) and NCp7-appear successively. A mutant virus expressing NCp15 shows greatly reduced infectivity. Mature NCp7 is a chaperone protein that facilitates remodeling of nucleic acids (NAs) during reverse transcription. To understand the strict requirement for NCp15 processing, we compared the chaperone function of the three forms of NC. NCp15 anneals tRNA to the primer-binding site at a similar rate as NCp7, whereas NCp9 is the most efficient annealing protein. Assays to measure NA destabilization show a similar trend. Dynamic light scattering studies reveal that NCp15 forms much smaller aggregates relative to those formed by NCp7 and NCp9. Nuclear magnetic resonance studies suggest that the acidic p6 domain of HIV-1 NCp15 folds back and interacts with the basic zinc fingers. Neutralizing the acidic residues in p6 improves the annealing and aggregation activity of NCp15 to the level of NCp9 and increases the protein-NA aggregate size. Slower NCp15 dissociation kinetics is observed by single-molecule DNA stretching, consistent with the formation of electrostatic inter-protein contacts, which likely contribute to the distinct aggregate morphology, irregular HIV-1 core formation and non-infectious virus.
Project description:The mature HIV-1 nucleocapsid protein (NCp7) is generated by sequential proteolytic cleavage of precursor proteins containing additional C-terminal peptides: NCp15 (NCp7-spacer peptide 2 (SP2)-p6); and NCp9 (NCp7-SP2). Here, we compare the nucleic acid chaperone activities of the three proteins, using reconstituted systems that model the annealing and elongation steps in tRNA(Lys3)-primed (-) strong-stop DNA synthesis and subsequent minus-strand transfer. The maximum levels of annealing are similar for all of the proteins, but there are important differences in their ability to facilitate reverse transcriptase (RT)-catalyzed DNA extension. Thus, at low concentrations, NCp9 has the greatest activity, but with increasing concentrations, DNA synthesis is significantly reduced. This finding reflects NCp9's strong nucleic acid binding affinity (associated with the highly basic SP2 domain) as well as its slow dissociation kinetics, which together limit the ability of RT to traverse the nucleic acid template. NCp15 has the poorest activity of the three proteins due to its acidic p6 domain. Indeed, mutants with alanine substitutions for the acidic residues in p6 have improved chaperone function. Collectively, these data can be correlated with the known biological properties of NCp9 and NCp15 mutant virions and help to explain why mature NC has evolved as the critical cofactor for efficient virus replication and long-term viral fitness.
Project description:The HIV-1 nucleocapsid is formed during protease (PR)-directed viral maturation, and is transformed into pre-integration complexes following reverse transcription in the cytoplasm of the infected cell. Here, we report a detailed transmission electron microscopy analysis of the impact of HIV-1 PR and reverse transcriptase (RT) on nucleocapsid plasticity, using in vitro reconstitutions. After binding to nucleic acids, NCp15, a proteolytic intermediate of nucleocapsid protein (NC), was processed at its C-terminus by PR, yielding premature NC (NCp9) followed by mature NC (NCp7), through the consecutive removal of p6 and p1. This allowed NC co-aggregation with its single-stranded nucleic-acid substrate. Examination of these co-aggregates for the ability of RT to catalyse reverse transcription showed an effective synthesis of double-stranded DNA that, remarkably, escaped from the aggregates more efficiently with NCp7 than with NCp9. These data offer a compelling explanation for results from previous virological studies that focused on i) Gag processing leading to nucleocapsid condensation, and ii) the disappearance of NCp7 from the HIV-1 pre-integration complexes. We propose that HIV-1 PR and RT, by controlling the nucleocapsid architecture during the steps of condensation and dismantling, engage in a successive nucleoprotein-remodelling process that spatiotemporally coordinates the pre-integration steps of HIV-1. Finally we suggest that nucleoprotein remodelling mechanisms are common features developed by mobile genetic elements to ensure successful replication.
Project description:During HIV-1 assembly and budding, Gag protein, in particular the C-terminal domain containing the nucleocapsid domain (NCd), p1 and p6, is the site of numerous interactions with viral and cellular factors. Most in vitro studies of Gag have used constructs lacking p1 and p6. Here, using NMR spectroscopy, we show that the p1-p6 region of Gag (NCp15) is largely disordered, but interacts transiently with the NCd. These interactions modify the dynamic properties of the NCd. Indeed, using isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC), we have measured a higher entropic penalty to RNA-binding for the NCd precursor, NCp15, than for the mature form, NCp7, which lacks p1 and p6. We propose that during assembly and budding of virions, concomitant with Gag oligomerization, transient interactions between NCd and p1-p6 become salient and responsible for (i) a higher level of structuration of p6, which favours recruitment of budding partners; and (ii) a higher entropic penalty to RNA-binding at specific sites that favours non-specific binding of NCd at multiple sites on the genomic RNA (gRNA). The contributions of p6 and p1 are sequentially removed via proteolysis during Gag maturation such that the RNA-binding specificity of the mature protein is governed by the properties of NCd.
Project description:Maturation of the HIV-1 viral particles shortly after budding is required for infectivity. During this process, the Pr55<sup>Gag</sup> precursor undergoes a cascade of proteolytic cleavages, and whilst the structural rearrangements of the viral proteins are well understood, the concomitant maturation of the genomic RNA (gRNA) structure is unexplored, despite evidence that it is required for infectivity. To get insight into this process, we systematically analysed the interactions between Pr55<sup>Gag</sup> or its maturation products (NCp15, NCp9 and NCp7) and the 5' gRNA region and their structural consequences, <i>in vitro</i>. We show that Pr55<sup>Gag</sup> and its maturation products mostly bind at different RNA sites and with different contributions of their two zinc knuckle domains. Importantly, these proteins have different transient and permanent effects on the RNA structure, the late NCp9 and NCp7 inducing dramatic structural rearrangements. Altogether, our results reveal the distinct contributions of the different Pr55<sup>Gag</sup> maturation products on the gRNA structural maturation.
Project description:APOBEC3G exerts its antiviral activity by targeting to retroviral particles and inducing viral DNA hypermutations in the absence of Vif. However, the mechanism by which APOBEC3G is packaged into virions remains unclear. We now report that viral genomic RNA enhances but is not essential for human APOBEC3G packaging into human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) virions. Packaging of APOBEC3G was also detected in HIV-1 Gag virus-like particles (VLP) that lacked all the viral genomic RNA packaging signals. Human APOBEC3G could be packaged efficiently into a divergent subtype HIV-1, as well as simian immunodeficiency virus, strain mac, and murine leukemia virus Gag VLP. Cosedimentation of human APOBEC3G and intracellular Gag complexes was detected by equilibrium density and velocity sucrose gradient analysis. Interaction between human APOBEC3G and HIV-1 Gag was also detected by coimmunoprecipitation experiments. This interaction did not require p6, p1, or the C-terminal region of NCp7. However, the N-terminal region, especially the first 11 amino acids, of HIV-1 NCp7 was critical for HIV-1 Gag and APOBEC3G interaction and virion packaging. The linker region flanked by the two active sites of human APOBEC3G was also important for efficient packaging into HIV-1 Gag VLP. Association of human APOBEC3G with RNA-containing intracellular complexes was observed. These results suggest that the N-terminal region of HIV-1 NC, which is critical for binding to RNA and mediating Gag-Gag oligomerization, plays an important role in APOBEC3G binding and virion packaging.
Project description:Retroviral nucleocapsid (NC) proteins are nucleic acid chaperones that play distinct roles in the viral life cycle. During reverse transcription, HIV-1 NC facilitates the rearrangement of nucleic acid secondary structures, allowing the transactivation response (TAR) RNA hairpin to be transiently destabilized and annealed to a complementary RNA hairpin. In contrast, during viral assembly, NC, as a domain of the group-specific antigen (Gag) polyprotein, binds the genomic RNA and facilitates packaging into new virions. It is not clear how the same protein, alone or as part of Gag, performs such different RNA binding functions in the viral life cycle. By combining single-molecule optical tweezers measurements with a quantitative mfold-based model, we characterize the equilibrium stability and unfolding barrier for TAR RNA. Comparing measured results with a model of discrete protein binding allows us to localize affected binding sites, in addition to quantifying hairpin stability. We find that, while both NCp7 and GagDp6 destabilize the TAR hairpin, GagDp6 binding is localized to two sites in the stem, while NCp7 targets sites near the top loop. Unlike GagDp6, NCp7 destabilizes this loop, shifting the location of the reaction barrier toward the folded state and increasing the natural rate of hairpin opening by ~104. Thus, our results explain why Gag cleavage and NC release is an essential prerequisite for reverse transcription within the virion.
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 nucleocapsid domain of Gag and mature nucleocapsid protein (NC) act as nucleic acid chaperones and facilitate folding of nucleic acids at critical steps of retroviral replication cycle. The basic N-terminus of HIV-1 NC protein was shown most important for the chaperone activity. The HIV-2 NC (NCp8) and HIV-1 NC (NCp7) proteins possess two highly conserved zinc fingers, flanked by basic residues. However, the NCp8 N-terminal domain is significantly shorter and contains less positively charged residues. This study characterizes previously unknown, nucleic acid chaperone activity of the HIV-2 NC protein.We have comparatively investigated the in vitro nucleic acid chaperone properties of the HIV-2 and HIV-1 NC proteins. Using substrates derived from the HIV-1 and HIV-2 genomes, we determined the ability of both proteins to chaperone nucleic acid aggregation, annealing and strand exchange in duplex structures. Both NC proteins displayed comparable, high annealing activity of HIV-1 TAR DNA and its complementary nucleic acid. Interesting differences between the two NC proteins were discovered when longer HIV substrates, particularly those derived from the HIV-2 genome, were used in chaperone assays. In contrast to NCp7, NCp8 weakly facilitates annealing of HIV-2 TAR RNA to its complementary TAR (-) DNA. NCp8 is also unable to efficiently stimulate tRNALys3 annealing to its respective HIV-2 PBS motif. Using truncated NCp8 peptide, we demonstrated that despite the fact that the N-terminus of NCp8 differs from that of NCp7, this domain is essential for NCp8 activity.Our data demonstrate that the HIV-2 NC protein displays reduced nucleic acid chaperone activity compared to that of HIV-1 NC. We found that NCp8 activity is limited by substrate length and stability to a greater degree than that of NCp7. This is especially interesting in light of the fact that the HIV-2 5'UTR is more structured than that of HIV-1. The reduced chaperone activity observed with NCp8 may influence the efficiency of reverse transcription and other key steps of the HIV-2 replication cycle.
Project description:BACKGROUND: The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) nucleocapsid (NC) plays a pivotal role in the viral lifecycle: including encapsulating the viral genome, aiding in strand transfer during reverse transcription, and packaging two copies of the viral genome into progeny virions. Another gag gene product, p6, plays an integral role in successful viral budding from the plasma membrane and inclusion of the accessory protein Vpr within newly budding virions. In this study, we have characterized the gag NC and p6 genes from six mother-infant pairs following vertical transmission by performing phylogenetic analysis and by analyzing the degree of genetic diversity, evolutionary dynamics, and conservation of functional domains. RESULTS: Phylogenetic analysis of 168 gag NC and p6 genes sequences revealed six separate subtrees that corresponded to each mother-infant pair, suggesting that epidemiologically linked individuals were closer to each other than epidemiologically unlinked individuals. A high frequency (92.8%) of intact open reading frames of NC and p6 with patient and pair specific sequence motifs were conserved in mother-infant pairs' sequences. Nucleotide and amino acid distances showed a lower degree of viral heterogeneity, and a low degree of estimates of genetic diversity was also found in NC and p6 sequences. The NC and p6 sequences from both mothers and infants were found to be under positive selection pressure. The two important functional motifs within NC, the zinc-finger motifs, were highly conserved in most of the sequences, as were the gag p6 Vpr binding, AIP1 and late binding domains. Several CTL recognition epitopes identified within the NC and p6 genes were found to be mostly conserved in 6 mother-infant pairs' sequences. CONCLUSION: These data suggest that the gag NC and p6 open reading frames and functional domains were conserved in mother-infant pairs' sequences following vertical transmission, which confirms the critical role of these gene products in the viral lifecycle.