Immature HIV-1 lattice assembly dynamics are regulated by scaffolding from nucleic acid and the plasma membrane

AJ Pak and JMA Grime and P Sengupta and AK Chen and AEP Durumeric and A Srivastava and M Yeager and JAG Briggs and J Lippincott-Schwartz and GA Voth, PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 114, E10056-E10065 (2017).

DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1706600114

The packaging and budding of Gag polyprotein and viral RNA is a critical step in the HIV-1 life cycle. High-resolution structures of the Gag polyprotein have revealed that the capsid (CA) and spacer peptide 1 (SP1) domains contain important interfaces for Gag self-assembly. However, the molecular details of the multimerization process, especially in the presence of RNA and the cell membrane, have remained unclear. In this work, we investigate the mechanisms that work in concert between the polyproteins, RNA, and membrane to promote immature lattice growth. We develop a coarse-grained (CG) computational model that is derived from sub nano-meter resolution structural data. Our simulations recapitulate contiguous and hexameric lattice assembly driven only by weak anisotropic attractions at the helical CA-SP1 junction. Importantly, analysis from CG and single-particle tracking photo-activated localization (spt-PALM) trajectories indicates that viral RNA and the membrane are critical constituents that actively promote Gag multimerization through scaffolding, while over expression of short competitor RNA can suppress assembly. We also find that the CA amino-terminal domain imparts intrinsic curvature to the Gag lattice. As a consequence, immature lattice growth appears to be coupled to the dynamics of spontaneous membrane deformation. Our findings elucidate a simple network of interactions that regulate the early stages of HIV-1 assembly and budding.

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