Send to

Choose Destination
Int J Pept Protein Res. 1996 Apr;47(4):297-310.

Solution structure of the cytoplasmic domain of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 encoded virus protein U (Vpu).

Author information

Abteilung für Molekulare Strukturforschung, GBF-Gesellschaft für Biotechnologische Forschung mbH, Braunschweig, Germany.


The HIV-1-specific Vpu protein is an 81 amino acid class I integral membrane phosphoprotein that induces degradation of the virus receptor CD4 in the endoplasmic reticulum and enhances the release of virus particles from infected cells. Vpu is of amphipathic nature and consists of a hydrophobic N-terminal membrane anchor proximal to a polar C-terminal cytoplasmic domain. In our recent work, focussed on the structural analysis of the cytoplasmic tail, we established an alpha-helix-flexible-alpha-helix-turn model. Now we present the experimental solution structure of the Vpu cytoplasmic domain which has been elucidated in aqueous 50% trifluoroethanol solution by 2D 1H NMR spectroscopy, and restrained molecular dynamics and energy minimization calculations. Under these conditions the peptide, Vpu32-81, is predominantly monomeric and adopts a well defined helix-interconnection-helix-turn conformation, in which the four regions are bounded by residues 37-51, 52-56, 57-72 and 73-78. The presence of the cis isomer of Pro-75 manifests itself as a doubling of cross peaks of neighbouring residues in the 2D spectra. A related variant peptide, Vpum32-81, in which the Vpu-phosphoacceptor sites Ser52 and Ser56 were exchanged for Asn, adopts a very similar structure and, taken together, provides evidence that the second helix and the turn form a comparatively rigid region. Both helices are amphipathic in character, but show different charge distributions. In general the cytoplasmic region is N-terminally positively charged, passes through a region of alternating charges in helix 1 and then becomes negatively charged. The flexibility of the interconnection permits orientational freedom of the two helices. The motif found here is the first experimentally refined solution structure of the cytoplasmic domain of Vpu, and it is conceivable that these alpha-helices are important for a previously defined physical interaction with an alpha-helical Vpu-responsive element located within the cytoplasmic tail of CD4.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center