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PLoS Pathog. 2016 Apr 12;12(4):e1005565. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1005565. eCollection 2016 Apr.

HIV-1 and M-PMV RNA Nuclear Export Elements Program Viral Genomes for Distinct Cytoplasmic Trafficking Behaviors.

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McArdle Laboratory for Cancer Research and Institute for Molecular Virology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America.
Morgridge Institute for Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America.
Department of Infectious Diseases, King's College London, London, United Kingdom.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin, United States of America.


Retroviruses encode cis-acting RNA nuclear export elements that override nuclear retention of intron-containing viral mRNAs including the full-length, unspliced genomic RNAs (gRNAs) packaged into assembling virions. The HIV-1 Rev-response element (RRE) recruits the cellular nuclear export receptor CRM1 (also known as exportin-1/XPO1) using the viral protein Rev, while simple retroviruses encode constitutive transport elements (CTEs) that directly recruit components of the NXF1(Tap)/NXT1(p15) mRNA nuclear export machinery. How gRNA nuclear export is linked to trafficking machineries in the cytoplasm upstream of virus particle assembly is unknown. Here we used long-term (>24 h), multicolor live cell imaging to directly visualize HIV-1 gRNA nuclear export, translation, cytoplasmic trafficking, and virus particle production in single cells. We show that the HIV-1 RRE regulates unique, en masse, Rev- and CRM1-dependent "burst-like" transitions of mRNAs from the nucleus to flood the cytoplasm in a non-localized fashion. By contrast, the CTE derived from Mason-Pfizer monkey virus (M-PMV) links gRNAs to microtubules in the cytoplasm, driving them to cluster markedly to the centrosome that forms the pericentriolar core of the microtubule-organizing center (MTOC). Adding each export element to selected heterologous mRNAs was sufficient to confer each distinct export behavior, as was directing Rev/CRM1 or NXF1/NXT1 transport modules to mRNAs using a site-specific RNA tethering strategy. Moreover, multiple CTEs per transcript enhanced MTOC targeting, suggesting that a cooperative mechanism links NXF1/NXT1 to microtubules. Combined, these results reveal striking, unexpected features of retroviral gRNA nucleocytoplasmic transport and demonstrate roles for mRNA export elements that extend beyond nuclear pores to impact gRNA distribution in the cytoplasm.

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