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Biochemistry. 1997 Apr 29;36(17):5157-69.

A leucine zipper-like sequence from the cytoplasmic tail of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein binds and perturbs lipid bilayers.

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Department of Membrane Research and Biophysics, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.


HIV-1 transmembrane envelope glycoprotein (gp41) has an unusually long cytoplasmic domain that has secondary associations with the inner leaflet of the membrane. Two highly amphiphatic alpha-helices in the cytoplasmic domain of gp41 have previously been shown to interact with lipid bilayers. We have detected a highly conserved leucine zipper-like sequence between the two alpha-helices. A peptide corresponding to this segment (residues 789-815, LLP-3) aggregates in aqueous solution, but spontaneously inserts into phospholipid membranes and dissociates into alpha-helical monomers. The peptide perturbs the bilayer structure resulting in the formation of micelles and other non-bilayer structures. Tryptophan fluorescence quenching experiments using brominated phospholipids revealed that the peptide penetrates deeply into the hydrophobic milieu of the membrane bilayer. The peptide interacts equally with zwitterionic and negatively-charged phospholipid membranes and is protected from proteolytic digestion in its membrane-bound state. Polarized attenuated total reflection Fourier transform infrared (ATR-FTIR) spectroscopy showed that the LLP-3 alpha-helix axis is about 70 degrees from the normal to the membrane plane. The ATR-FTIR CH2-stretching dichroic ratio increases when the peptide is incorporated into pure phospholipid membranes, further indicating that the peptide can deeply penetrate and perturb the bilayer structure. Integrating these data with what is already known about the membrane-associating features of adjacent segments, we propose a revised structural model in which a large portion of the cytoplasmic tail of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein is associated with the membrane.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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