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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007 Dec 11;104(50):20031-6. Epub 2007 Dec 3.

Ubiquitin-dependent virus particle budding without viral protein ubiquitination.

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Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center and Laboratory of Retrovirology, The Rockefeller University, 455 First Avenue, New York, NY 10016, USA.


An essential step in the release of an extracellular enveloped virus particle is a budding event that ultimately separates virion and host cell membranes. For many enveloped viruses, membrane fission requires the recruitment of the class E vacuolar protein sorting (VPS) machinery by short, virally encoded peptide sequences termed "late-budding" or "L" domains. Some L-domain peptide sequences (e.g., PSAP) bind directly to components of class E VPS machinery, whereas others (e.g., PPxY) access it indirectly by recruiting ubiquitin ligases. Additionally, ubiquitin itself is known to be generally important for the fission of virion from cellular membranes, and because ubiquitination of cellular transmembrane proteins can signal the recruitment of class E machinery, a popular model is that deposition of ubiquitin on viral structural proteins mediates class E machinery recruitment. To test this model, we took advantage of a retroviral Gag protein from the prototypic foamy virus (PFV) that is almost devoid of ubiquitin acceptors, and we engineered it to generate extracellular virus-like particles in the complete absence of other viral proteins. Notably, we found that particle budding, induced by a class E VPS machinery-binding L domain (PSAP), proceeded efficiently in the absence of ubiquitin acceptors in PFV Gag. Moreover, when particle release was engineered to be dependent on a viral PPXY motif, the requirement for a catalytically active ubiquitin ligase was maintained, irrespective of the presence or absence of ubiquitin acceptor sites in PFV Gag. Thus, in this model system, ubiquitin conjugation to transacting factors, not viral proteins, appears critical for ubiquitin-dependent enveloped viral particle release.

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