Functional chimeras of the rous sarcoma virus and human immunodeficiency virus gag proteins

Robert P. Bennett, Timothy D. Nelle, John W. Wills

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131 Scopus citations


The Gag protein encoded by Rous sarcoma virus (RSV) is the only viral product required for the process of budding whereby virus particles are formed at the plasma membrane. Deletion analysis of this Gag molecule has revealed several regions (assembly domains) that are important for budding. One of these domains is located at the amino terminus and is needed for membrane binding. Another is located within the carboxy-terminal third of the protein. Though there is little sequence homology among the Gag proteins of unrelated retroviruses, it seemed possible that their assembly domains might be functionally conserved, and to explore this idea, numerous Gag chimeras were made. The results indicate that the first 10 amino acids of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) Gag protein can suppress the block to budding caused by deletions in the RSV MA sequence, much as described previously for the first 10 residues from the Src oncoprotein (J. W. Wills, R. C. Craven, R. A. Weldon, Jr., T. D. Nelle, and C. R. Erdie, J. Virol. 65:3804-3812, 1991). In addition, the carboxy-terminal half of the HIV Gag protein was fused to a truncated RSV Gag molecule, mutant Bg-Bs, which is unable to direct core assembly. This chimera was able to produce particles at a rate identical to that of RSV and of a density similar to that of authentic virions. Deletion analysis of the carboxy-terminal chimera revealed two small regions within the HIV NC protein that were sufficient for endowing mutant Bg-Bs with these properties. Chimeras lacking both regions produced particles of a low density, suggesting that these sequences may be involved in the tight packing of Gag molecules during assembly. In a related set of experiments, replacement of the RSV protease with that of HIV resulted in premature processing within the RSV sequence and a block to budding. Particle assembly was restored when the HIV PR activity was inactivated by mutagenesis. Collectively, the data presented here illustrate the functional similarities of Gag proteins from unrelated retroviruses.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6487-6498
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1993

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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