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J Biol Chem. 2012 Dec 28;287(53):44278-88. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.418822. Epub 2012 Nov 14.

The size and conservation of a coiled-coil structure in the ectodomain of human BST-2/tetherin is dispensable for inhibition of HIV-1 virion release.

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Laboratory of Molecular Microbiology, Viral Biochemistry Section, NIAID, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-0460, USA.


BST-2/CD317/tetherin is a host factor that inhibits HIV-1 release and is counteracted by HIV-1 Vpu. Structural studies indicate that the BST-2 ectodomain assumes a coiled-coil conformation. Here we studied the role of the BST-2 ectodomain for tethering function. First, we addressed the importance of the length and structure of the ectodomain by adding or substituting heterologous coiled-coil or non-coiled-coil sequences. We found that extending or replacing the BST-2 ectodomain using non-coiled-coil sequences resulted in loss of BST-2 function. Doubling the size of the BST-2 ectodomain by insertion of a heterologous coiled-coil motif or substituting the BST-2 coiled-coil domain with a heterologous coiled-coil motif maintained tethering function. Reductions in the size of the BST-2 coiled-coil domain were tolerated as well. In fact, deletion of the C-terminal half of the BST-2 ectodomain, including a series of seven consecutive heptad motifs did not abolish tethering function. However, slight changes in the positioning of deletions affecting the relative placing of charged or hydrophobic residues on the helix severely impacted the functional properties of BST-2. Overall, we conclude that the size of the BST-2 ectodomain is highly flexible and can be reduced or extended as long as the positioning of residues important for the stability of the dimer interface is maintained.

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