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J Virol. 2010 Jan;84(1):59-75. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00899-09.

The cytoplasmic domain of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 transmembrane protein gp41 harbors lipid raft association determinants.

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  • 1Institute of Biomedical Sciences, Academia Sinica, Nankang, Taipei 11529, Taiwan, Republic of China.


The molecular basis for localization of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 envelope glycoprotein (Env) in detergent-resistant membranes (DRMs), also called lipid rafts, still remains unclear. The C-terminal cytoplasmic tail of gp41 contains three membrane-interacting, amphipathic alpha-helical sequences, termed lentivirus lytic peptide 2 (LLP-2), LLP-3, and LLP-1, in that order. Here we identify determinants in the cytoplasmic tail which are crucial for Env's association with Triton X-100-resistant rafts. Truncations of LLP-1 greatly reduced Env localization in lipid rafts, and the property of Gag-independent gp41 localization in rafts was conserved among different strains. Analyses of mutants containing single deletions or substitutions in LLP-1 showed that the alpha-helical structure of the LLP-1 hydrophobic face has a more-critical role in Env-raft associations than that of the hydrophilic face. With the exception of a Pro substitution for Val-833, all Pro substitution and charge-inverting mutants showed wild-type virus-like one-cycle viral infectivity, replication kinetics, and Env incorporation into the virus. The intracellular localization and cell surface expression of mutants not localized in lipid rafts, such as the TM844, TM813, 829P, and 843P mutants, were apparently normal compared to those of wild-type Env. Cytoplasmic subdomain targeting analyses revealed that the sequence spanning LLP-3 and LLP-1 could target a cytoplasmic reporter protein to DRMs. Mutations of LLP-1 that affected Env association with lipid rafts also disrupted the DRM-targeting ability of the LLP-3/LLP-1 sequence. Our results clearly demonstrate that LLP motifs located in the C-terminal cytoplasmic tail of gp41 harbor Triton X-100-resistant raft association determinants.

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