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Virology. 1999 Mar 1;255(1):20-5.

Tagging the human immunodeficiency virus gag protein with green fluorescent protein. Minimal evidence for colocalisation with actin.

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NERC Institute of Virology, Mansfield Road, Oxford, OX1 3SR, UK.


The assembly and budding of human immunodeficiency virus type 1, encoded solely in the Gag protein precursor Pr55Gag, occur at the plasma membrane of infected cells. However, little is known about the routing of the Gag molecule from its site of synthesis in the cytoplasm to the site of budding, with past studies suggesting that the cytoskeleton, particularly actin, may be involved in the translocation. We have constructed a T7 promoter-driven gag gene fusion with green fluorescent protein (GFP) that expresses Gag-GFP in both cells and supernatant. The distribution of Gag-GFP was the same as Gag only, suggesting that cellular routing was not affected by fusion to GFP, and using colabelling techniques, Gag-GFP was shown to have no particular colocalisation with actin. After detergent extraction of expressing cells, Gag and Gag-GFP remained cell associated, whereas GFP only was wholly released. These data suggest that Gag may associate with other cytoskeletal components or, perhaps more likely, that a partial assembly to a large-molecular-weight intermediate occurs before localisation at the plasma membrane.

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