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AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 1995 Jan;11(1):55-64.

Ultrastructural evidence of an interaction between Env and Gag proteins during assembly of HIV type 1.

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Department of Toxicology, SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.


Assembly and budding of retroviruses is believed to involve a complex interaction of envelope and capsid proteins at the host cell membrane. The nature of these interactions is, however, incompletely understood. Studies of the topography of the surface of HIV-1 have shown that the envelope glycoprotein projections (knobs) are arranged in a T = 7 levo rotational symmetry. Similarly, an icosahedral structure has been suggested for the p17 matrix of HIV-1. In an effort to investigate whether there is a structural interaction between these molecules, virions whose maturation was blocked by an inhibitor of HIV protease were studied using cytochemistry, morphometry, and 2D fast Fourier transform image enhancement. Analysis of the relationship between core morphology and the topographic distribution of envelope glycoprotein projections on HIV-1 provided structural evidence of an interaction between Env and Gag proteins. Furthermore, image enhancement revealed a periodic substructure in the Pr55gag plaque. Taken together, the data suggest an interaction between Pr55gag and the gp120-gp41 complex during assembly and budding of HIV-1. This interaction may, in part, contribute to determining the amount of Env glycoprotein that will be incorporated into a virion, and therefore play a role in the biology of HIV-1.

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