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J Virol. 2000 Aug;74(16):7250-60.

Infectivity of Moloney murine leukemia virus defective in late assembly events is restored by late assembly domains of other retroviruses.

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Integrated Program in Cellular, Molecular and Biophysical Studies, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York 10032, USA.


The p12 region of the Moloney murine leukemia virus (M-MuLV) Gag protein contains a PPPY motif important for efficient virion assembly and release. To probe the function of the PPPY motif, a series of insertions of homologous and heterologous motifs from other retroviruses were introduced at various positions in a mutant gag gene lacking the PPPY motif. The assembly defects of the PPPY deletion mutant could be rescued by insertion of a wild-type PPPY motif and flanking sequences at several ectopic positions in the Gag protein. The late assembly domain (L-domain) of Rous sarcoma virus (RSV) or human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) could also fully or partially restore M-MuLV assembly when introduced into matrix, p12, or nucleocapsid domains of the mutant M-MuLV Gag protein lacking the PPPY motif. Strikingly, mutant viruses carrying the RSV or the HIV-1 L-domain at the original location of the deleted PPPY motif were replication competent in rodent cells. These data suggest that the PPPY motif of M-MuLV acts in a partially position-independent manner and is functionally interchangeable with L-domains of other retroviruses. Electron microscopy studies revealed that deletion of the entire p12 region resulted in the formation of tube-like rather than spherical particles. Remarkably, the PPPY deletion mutant formed chain structures composed of multiple viral particles linked on the cell surface. Many of the mutants with heterologous L-domains released virions with wild-type morphology.

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