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Nat Struct Biol. 2002 Jul;9(7):537-43.

Structure of the N-terminal 283-residue fragment of the immature HIV-1 Gag polyprotein.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Maryland Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, Maryland 21250, USA.


The capsid protein (CA) of the mature human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) contains an N-terminal beta-hairpin that is essential for formation of the capsid core particle. CA is generated by proteolytic cleavage of the Gag precursor polyprotein during viral maturation. We have determined the NMR structure of a 283-residue N-terminal fragment of immature HIV-1 Gag (Gag(283)), which includes the intact matrix (MA) and N-terminal capsid (CA(N)) domains. The beta-hairpin is unfolded in Gag(283), consistent with the proposal that hairpin formation occurs subsequent to proteolytic cleavage of Gag, triggering capsid assembly. Comparison of the immature and mature CA(N) structures reveals that beta-hairpin formation induces a approximately 2 A displacement of helix 6 and a concomitant displacement of the cyclophylin-A (CypA)-binding loop, suggesting a possible allosteric mechanism for CypA-mediated destabilization of the capsid particle during infectivity.

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