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J Biol Chem. 2000 Sep 22;275(38):29749-53.

Degradation of HIV-1 integrase by the N-end rule pathway.

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Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, The Rockefeller University, New York, New York 10016, USA.


Human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) integrase catalyzes the irreversible insertion of the viral genome into host chromosomal DNA. We have developed a mammalian expression system for the synthesis of authentic HIV-1 integrase in the absence of other viral proteins. Integrase, which bears a N-terminal phenylalanine, was found to be a short-lived protein in human embryo kidney 293T cells. The degradation of integrase could be suppressed by proteasome inhibitors. N-terminal phenylalanine is recognized as a degradation signal by a ubiquitin-proteasome proteolytic system known as the N-end rule pathway. The replacement of N-terminal phenylalanine with methionine, valine, or glycine, which are stabilizing residues in the N-end rule, resulted in metabolically stabilized integrase proteins (half-life of N-terminal Met-integrase was at least 3 h). Conversely, the substitution of N-terminal phenylalanine with other destabilizing residues retained the metabolic instability of integrase. These findings indicate that the HIV-1 integrase is a physiological substrate of the N-end rule. We discuss a possible functional similarity to the better understood turnover of the bacteriophage Mu transposase and functions of integrase instability to the maintenance and integrity of the host cell genome.

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