Role of the SP2 domain and its proteolytic cleavage in HIV-1 structural maturation and infectivity

Alex de Marco, Anke Mareil Heuse, Bärbel Glass, Hans Georg Kräusslich, Barbara Müller, John A.G. Briggs

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35 Citations (Scopus)


HIV-1 buds as an immature, noninfectious virion. Proteolysis of its main structural component, Gag, is required for morphological maturation and infectivity and leads to release of four functional domains and the spacer peptides SP1 and SP2. The Nterminal cleavages of Gag and the separation of SP1 from CA are all essential for viral infectivity, while the roles of the two Cterminal cleavages and the role of SP2, separating the NC and p6 domains, are less well defined. We have analyzed HIV-1 variants with defective cleavage at either or both sites flanking SP2, or largely lacking SP2, regarding virus production, infectivity, and structural maturation. Neither the presence nor the proteolytic processing of SP2 was required for particle release. Viral infectivity was almost abolished when both cleavage sites were defective and severely reduced when the fast cleavage site between SP2 and p6 was defective. This correlated with an increased proportion of irregular core structures observed by cryo-electron tomography, although processing of CA was unaffected. Mutation of the slow cleavage site between NC and SP2 or deletion of most of SP2 had only a minor effect on infectivity and did not induce major alterations in mature core morphology. We speculate that not only separation of NC and p6 but also the processing kinetics in this region are essential for successful maturation, while SP2 itself is dispensable.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)13708-13716
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number24
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012
Externally publishedYes

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