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J Virol. 1996 Nov;70(11):7734-43.

Cytoskeletal proteins inside human immunodeficiency virus type 1 virions.

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AIDS Vaccine Program, National Cancer Institute, Frederick Cancer Research and Development Center, Maryland 21702-1201, USA.


We have identified three types of cytoskeletal proteins inside human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) virions by analyzing subtilisin-digested particles. HIV-1 virions were digested with protease, and the treated particles were isolated by sucrose density centrifugation. This method removes both exterior viral proteins and proteins associated with microvesicles that contaminate virion preparations. Since the proteins inside the virion are protected from digestion by the viral lipid envelope, they can be isolated and analyzed after treatment. Experiments presented here demonstrated that this procedure removed more than 95% of the protein associated with microvesicles. Proteins in digested HIV-1(MN) particles from infected H9 and CEM(ss) cell lines were analyzed by high-pressure liquid chromatography, protein sequencing, and immunoblotting. The data revealed that three types of cytoskeletal proteins are present in virions at different concentrations relative to the molar level of Gag: actin (approximately 10 to 15%), ezrin and moesin (approximately 2%), and cofilin (approximately 2 to 10%). Our analysis of proteins within virus particles detected proteolytic fragments of alpha-smooth muscle actin and moesin that were cleaved at sites which might be recognized by HIV-1 protease. These cleavage products are not present in microvesicles from uninfected cells. Therefore, these processed proteins are most probably produced by HIV-1 protease digestion. The presence of these fragments, as well as the incorporation of a few specific cytoskeletal proteins into virions, suggests an active interaction between cytoskeletal and viral proteins.

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