Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008 Aug 26;105(34):12248-53. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0800509105. Epub 2008 Aug 19.

MS3D structural elucidation of the HIV-1 packaging signal.

Author information

  • 1Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, University of Maryland Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250, USA.


The structure of HIV-1 Psi-RNA has been elucidated by a concerted approach combining structural probes with mass spectrometric detection (MS3D), which is not affected by the size and crystallization properties of target biomolecules. Distance constraints from bifunctional cross-linkers provided the information required for assembling an all-atom model from the high-resolution coordinates of separate domains by triangulating their reciprocal placement in 3D space. The resulting structure revealed a compact cloverleaf morphology stabilized by a long-range tertiary interaction between the GNRA tetraloop of stemloop 4 (SL4) and the upper stem of stemloop 1 (SL1). The preservation of discrete stemloop structures ruled out the possibility that major rearrangements might produce a putative supersite with enhanced affinity for the nucleocapsid (NC) domain of the viral Gag polyprotein, which would drive genome recognition and packaging. The steric situation of single-stranded regions exposed on the cloverleaf structure offered a valid explanation for the stoichiometry exhibited by full-length Psi-RNA in the presence of NC. The participation of SL4 in a putative GNRA loop-receptor interaction provided further indications of the plasticity of this region of genomic RNA, which can also anneal with upstream sequences to stabilize alternative conformations of the 5' untranslated region (5'-UTR). Considering the ability to sustain specific NC binding, the multifaceted activities supported by the SL4 sequence suggest a mechanism by which Gag could actively participate in regulating the vital functions mediated by 5'-UTR. Substantiated by the 3D structure of Psi-RNA, the central role played by SL4 in specific RNA-RNA and protein-RNA interactions advances this domain as a primary target for possible therapeutic intervention.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center