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J Virol. 2005 Dec;79(24):15074-83.

Ubiquitination of the prototype foamy virus envelope glycoprotein leader peptide regulates subviral particle release.

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Institut für Virologie, Medizinische Fakultät "Carl Gustav Carus," Technische Universität Dresden, Fetscherstr. 74, 01307 Dresden, Germany.


Foamy virus (FV) particle egress is unique among retroviruses because of its essential requirement for Gag and Env coexpression for budding and particle release. The FV glycoprotein undergoes a highly unusual biosynthesis resulting in the generation of three particle-associated, mature subunits, leader peptide (LP), surface (SU), and transmembrane (TM), derived from a precursor protein by posttranslational proteolysis mediated by furin or furinlike proteases. Previously at least three LP products of different molecular weights were detected in purified FV particles. Here we demonstrate that the higher-molecular-weight forms gp28LP and gp38LP are ubiquitinated variants of the major gp18LP cleavage product, which has a type II membrane topology. Furthermore, we show that all five lysine residues located within the N-terminal 60-amino-acid cytoplasmic domain of gp18LP can potentially be ubiquitinated, however, there seems to be a preference for using the first three. Inactivation of ubiquitination sites individually resulted in no obvious phenotype. However, simultaneous inactivation of the first three or all five ubiquitination sites in gp18LP led to a massive increase in subviral particles released by these mutant glycoproteins that were readily detectable by electron microscopy analysis upon expression of the ubiquitination-deficient glycoprotein by itself or in a proviral context. Surprisingly, only the quintuple ubiquitination mutant showed a two- to threefold increase in single-cycle infectivity assays, whereas all other mutants displayed infectivities similar to that of the wild type. Taken together, these data suggest that the balance between viral and subviral particle release of FVs is regulated by ubiquitination of the glycoprotein LP.

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