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J Virol. 2005 Jul;79(13):8374-87.

Wild-type-like viral replication potential of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 envelope mutants lacking palmitoylation signals.

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  • 1Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Academia Sinica, 128 Yen-Chiu-Yuan Road, Section 2, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, Republic of China.


Palmitoylation of the cytoplasmic domain of the human immunodeficiency type virus type 1 (HIV-1) envelope (Env) transmembrane protein, gp41, has been implicated in Env targeting to detergent-resistant lipid rafts, Env incorporation into the virus, and viral infectivity. In contrast, we provide evidence here to show that HIV-1 infectivity, Env targeting to lipid rafts, and Env incorporation into the virus are independent of cytoplasmic tail palmitoylation. The T-cell (T)-tropic HXB2-based virus, which utilizes CXCR4 as the entry coreceptor, carrying a Cys-to-Ser mutation at residue 764 or 837 or at both replicated with wild-type (WT) virus replication kinetics in CD4+ T cells. The properties of Env expression, precursor processing, cell surface expression, and Env incorporation of these three mutant viruses were normal compared to those of the WT virus. These three mutant Env proteins all effectively mediated one-cycle virus infection. When the Cys residues were replaced by Ala residues, all single and double mutants still retained the phenotypes of infectivity, Env incorporation, and lipid raft localization of the WT Env. When Cys-to-Ala substitutions were introduced into the macrophage (M)-tropic ConB virus, which utilizes CCR5 as the coreceptor, these mutations did not affect the replication potential, Env phenotypes, lipid raft targeting, or Env assembly into the virus of the WT Env. These T- and M-tropic mutants also productively replicated in human primary CD4+ T cells. Moreover, mutations at both Cys residues significantly reduced the level of palmitoylation of the Env. Our results together support the notion that palmitoylation of the cytoplasmic tail of the HIV-1 Env is not essential for the HIV-1 virus life cycle.

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