Polymerization of Gag on the inner leaflet of the plasma membrane drives the assembly of Human Immunodeficiency Virus 1 (HIV-1). Gag recruits components of the endosomal sorting complexes required for transport (ESCRT) to facilitate membrane fission and virion release. ESCRT assembly is initiated by recruitment of ALIX and TSG101/ESCRT-I, which bind directly to the viral Gag protein and then recruit the downstream ESCRT-III and VPS4 factors to complete the budding process. In contrast to previous models, we show that ALIX is recruited transiently at the end of Gag assembly, and that most ALIX molecules are recycled into the cytosol as the virus buds, although a subset remains within the virion. Our experiments imply that ALIX is recruited to the neck of the assembling virion and is mostly recycled after virion release.
Vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) is a prototypic negative sense single-stranded RNA virus. The bullet-shape appearance of the virion results from tightly wound helical turns of the nucleoprotein encapsidated RNA template (N-RNA) around a central cavity. Transcription and replication require polymerase complexes, which include a catalytic subunit L and a template-binding subunit P. L and P are inferred to be in the cavity, however lacking direct observation, their exact position has remained unclear. Using super-resolution fluorescence imaging and atomic force microscopy (AFM) on single VSV virions, we show that L and P are packaged asymmetrically towards the blunt end of the virus. The number of L and P proteins varies between individual virions and they occupy 57 ± 12 nm of the 150 nm central cavity of the virus. Our finding positions the polymerases at the opposite end of the genome with respect to the only transcriptional promoter.
Bro1 domains are elongated, banana-shaped domains that were first identified in the yeast ESCRT pathway protein, Bro1p. Humans express three Bro1 domain-containing proteins: ALIX, BROX, and HD-PTP, which function in association with the ESCRT pathway to help mediate intraluminal vesicle formation at multivesicular bodies, the abscission stage of cytokinesis, and/or enveloped virus budding. Human Bro1 domains share the ability to bind the CHMP4 subset of ESCRT-III proteins, associate with the HIV-1 NC(Gag) protein, and stimulate the budding of viral Gag proteins. The curved Bro1 domain structure has also been proposed to mediate membrane bending. To date, crystal structures have only been available for the related Bro1 domains from the Bro1p and ALIX proteins, and structures of additional family members should therefore aid in the identification of key structural and functional elements.
The cellular ALIX protein functions within the ESCRT pathway to facilitate intralumenal endosomal vesicle formation, the abscission stage of cytokinesis, and enveloped virus budding. Here, we report that the C-terminal proline-rich region (PRR) of ALIX folds back against the upstream domains and auto-inhibits V domain binding to viral late domains. Mutations designed to destabilize the closed conformation of the V domain opened the V domain, increased ALIX membrane association, and enhanced virus budding. These observations support a model in which ALIX activation requires dissociation of the autoinhibitory PRR and opening of the V domain arms.
Retroviral Gag proteins contain short late-domain motifs that recruit cellular ESCRT pathway proteins to facilitate virus budding. ALIX-binding late domains often contain the core consensus sequence YPX(n)L (where X(n) can vary in sequence and length). However, some simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) Gag proteins lack this consensus sequence, yet still bind ALIX. We mapped divergent, ALIX-binding late domains within the p6(Gag) proteins of SIV(mac239) ((40)SREKPYKEVTEDLLHLNSLF(59)) and SIV(agmTan-1) ((24)AAGAYDPARKLLEQYAKK(41)). Crystal structures revealed that anchoring tyrosines (in lightface) and nearby hydrophobic residues (underlined) contact the ALIX V domain, revealing how lentiviruses employ a diverse family of late-domain sequences to bind ALIX and promote virus budding.
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