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Elife. 2014 Dec 8;3:e04121. doi: 10.7554/eLife.04121.

The export receptor Crm1 forms a dimer to promote nuclear export of HIV RNA.

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Graduate Group in Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, United States.
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, University of California, San Francisco, San Francisco, United States.


The HIV Rev protein routes viral RNAs containing the Rev Response Element (RRE) through the Crm1 nuclear export pathway to the cytoplasm where viral proteins are expressed and genomic RNA is delivered to assembling virions. The RRE assembles a Rev oligomer that displays nuclear export sequences (NESs) for recognition by the Crm1-Ran(GTP) nuclear receptor complex. Here we provide the first view of an assembled HIV-host nuclear export complex using single-particle electron microscopy. Unexpectedly, Crm1 forms a dimer with an extensive interface that enhances association with Rev-RRE and poises NES binding sites to interact with a Rev oligomer. The interface between Crm1 monomers explains differences between Crm1 orthologs that alter nuclear export and determine cellular tropism for viral replication. The arrangement of the export complex identifies a novel binding surface to possibly target an HIV inhibitor and may point to a broader role for Crm1 dimerization in regulating host gene expression.


HIV; RNA export; biophysics; electron microscopy; human; infectious disease; microbiology; structural biology; viruses

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