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J Mol Biol. 1999 Feb 12;286(1):83-93.

Model for lentivirus capsid core assembly based on crystal dimers of EIAV p26.

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Biology Department, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Upton, NY, 11973, USA.


Two crystal forms of recombinant p26 capsid protein (CA) from the equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV) have in common an antiparallel four-helix bundle dimer interface between N-terminal domains (NTDs). The dimer interface provides a lenient scaffold to accommodate the wide sequence variation in these helices within lentivirus CA. Pairs of dimers weakly associate to form exact or approximate D2 symmetry tetramers. In one of the two crystal forms, the tetramers are linked via dimerization of C-terminal domains (CTDs). We propose that the observed NTD and CTD homodimer interactions are involved in the assembly of the lentivirus capsid. The NTD homodimer shape readily suggests a model for the mature capsid core, based on hexagonal packing with dimensions and surface topology resembling described EIAV capsid cores. Combining available data for human immunodeficiency virus and EIAV CA, we also propose an assembly pathway for maturation of the lentivirus capsid core following proteolytic cleavage of the gag polyprotein precursor.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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