Characterization of a small (25-kilodalton) derivative of the Rous sarcoma virus Gag protein competent for particle release

Robert A. Weldon, John W. Wills

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Retroviral Gag proteins have the ability to induce budding and particle release from the plasma membrane when expressed in the absence of all of the other virus-encoded components; however, the locations of the functional domains within the Gag protein that are important for this process are poorly understood. It was shown previously that the protease sequence of the Rous sarcoma virus (RSV) Gag protein can be replaced with a foreign polypeptide, iso-1-cytochrome c from a yeast, without disrupting particle assembly (R. A. Weldon, Jr., C. R. Erdie, M. G. Oliver, and J. W. Wills, J. Virol. 64:4169-4179, 1990). An unexpected product of the chimericgag gene is a small, Gag-related protein named p25C. This product was of interest because of its high efficiency of packaging into particles. The goal of the experiments described here was to determine the mechanism by which p25C is synthesized and packaged into particles. The results demonstrate that it is not the product of proteolytic processing of the Gag-cytochrome precursor but is derived from an unusual spliced mRNA. cDNA clones of the spliced mRNA were obtained, and each expressed a product of approximately 25 kDa, designated p25M1, which was released into the growth medium in membrane-enclosed particles that were much lighter than authentic retrovirions as measured in sucrose density gradients. DNA sequencing revealed that the clones encode the first 180 of the 701 amino acids of the RSV Gag protein and no residues from iso-1-cytochrome c. This suggested that a domain in the carboxy-terminal half of Gag is important for the packaging of Gag proteins into dense arrays within the particles. In support of this hypothesis, particles of the correct density were obtained when a small segment from the carboxy terminus of the RSV Gag protein (residues 417 to 584) was included on the end of p25.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5550-5561
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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