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Biophys J. 2010 Nov 3;99(9):2757-65. doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2010.08.018.

Multiscale computer simulation of the immature HIV-1 virion.

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Center for Biophysical Modeling and Simulation and Department of Biochemistry, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.


Multiscale computer simulations, employing a combination of experimental data and coarse-graining methods, are used to explore the structure of the immature HIV-1 virion. A coarse-grained (CG) representation is developed for the virion membrane shell and Gag polypeptides using molecular level information. Building on the results from electron cryotomography experiments, the simulations under certain conditions reveal the existence of an incomplete p6 hexameric lattice formed from hexameric bundles of the Gag CA domains. In particular, the formation and stability of the immature Gag lattice at the CG level requires enhanced interfacial interactions of the CA protein C-terminal domains (CTDs). An exact mapping of the CG representation back to the molecular level then allows for detailed atomistic molecular dynamics studies to confirm the existence of these enhanced CA(CTD) interactions and to probe their possible origin. The multiscale simulations further provide insight into potential CA(CTD) mutations that may disrupt or modify the Gag immature lattice assembly process in the immature HIV-1 virion.

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