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Biochemistry. 2003 Jun 3;42(21):6408-17.

Role of myristylation in HIV-1 Gag assembly.

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Department of Molecular Genetics & Microbiology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York 11794, USA.


Assembly of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) first occurs on the plasma membrane of host cells where binding is driven by strong electrostatic interactions between the N-terminal matrix (MA) domain of the structural precursor polyprotein, Gag, and the membrane. MA is also myristylated, but the exact role this modification plays is not clear. In this study, we compared the protein oligomerization and membrane binding properties of Myr(+) and Myr(-) Gag(MA) expressed in COS-1 cells. Sedimentation studies in solution showed that both the myristylated Gag precursor and the mature MA product were detected in larger complexes than their unmyristylated counterparts, and the myristylated MA protein bound liposomes with approximately 3-fold greater affinity than unmyristylated MA. Aromatic residues near the N-terminal region of the MA protein were more accessible to chymotrypsin in the unmyristylated form and, consistent with this, an epitope in the N-terminal region was more exposed. Moreover, the cyclophilin binding site in the CA domain downstream of MA was more accessible in the unmyristylated Gag protein, while the Tsg101 binding site in the C-terminal region was equally available in the unmyristylated and myristylated Gag proteins. Taken together, our results suggest that myristylation promotes assembly by inducing conformational changes and facilitating MA multimerization. This observation offers a novel role for myristylation.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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