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J Virol. 1997 Sep;71(9):6541-6.

Equine infectious anemia virus utilizes a YXXL motif within the late assembly domain of the Gag p9 protein.

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Department of Molecular Genetics and Biochemistry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pennsylvania 15261, USA.


We have previously demonstrated that the Gag p9 protein of equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV) is functionally homologous with Rous sarcoma virus (RSV) p2b and human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) p6 in providing a critical late assembly function in RSV Gag-mediated budding from transfected COS-1 cells (L. J. Parent et al., J. Virol. 69:5455-5460, 1995). In light of the absence of amino acid sequence homology between EIAV p9 and the functional homologs of RSV and HIV-1, we have now designed an EIAV Gag-mediated budding assay to define the late assembly (L) domain peptide sequences contained in the EIAV p9 protein. The results of these particle budding assays revealed that expression of EIAV Gag polyprotein in COS-1 cells yielded extracellular Gag particles with a characteristic density of 1.18 g/ml, while expression of EIAV Gag polyprotein lacking p9 resulted in a severe reduction in the release of extracellular Gag particles. The defect in EIAV Gag polyprotein particle assembly could be corrected by substituting either the RSV p2b or HIV-1 p6 protein for EIAV p9. These observations demonstrated that the L domains of EIAV, HIV-1, and RSV were interchangeable in mediating assembly of EIAV Gag particles in the COS-1 cell budding assay. To localize the L domain of EIAV p9, we next assayed the effects of deletions and site-specific mutations in the p9 protein on its ability to mediate budding of EIAV Gag particles. Analyses of EIAV Gag constructs with progressive N-terminal or C-terminal deletions of the p9 protein identified a minimum sequence of 11 amino acids (Q20N21L22Y23P24D25L26S27E28I29K30) capable of providing the late assembly function. Alanine scanning studies of this L-domain sequence demonstrated that mutations of residues Y23, P24, and L26 abrogated the p9 late budding function; mutations of other residues in the p9 L domain did not substantially affect the level of EIAV Gag particle assembly. These data indicate that the L domain in EIAV p9 utilizes a YXXL motif which we hypothesize may interact with cellular proteins to facilitate virus particle budding from infected cells.

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