A temporospatial map that defines specific steps at which critical surfaces in the Gag MA and CA domains act during immature HIV-1 capsid assembly in cells.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of virology, Volume 88, Issue 10, p.5718-41 (2014)


2014, Electron Microscopy Core Facility


UNLABELLED: During HIV-1 assembly, Gag polypeptides target to the plasma membrane, where they multimerize to form immature capsids that undergo budding and maturation. Previous mutational analyses identified residues within the Gag matrix (MA) and capsid (CA) domains that are required for immature capsid assembly, and structural studies showed that these residues are clustered on four exposed surfaces in Gag. Exactly when and where the three critical surfaces in CA function during assembly are not known. Here, we analyzed how mutations in these four critical surfaces affect the formation and stability of assembly intermediates in cells expressing the HIV-1 provirus. The resulting temporospatial map reveals that critical MA residues act during membrane targeting, residues in the C-terminal CA subdomain (CA-CTD) dimer interface are needed for the stability of the first membrane-bound assembly intermediate, CA-CTD base residues are necessary for progression past the first membrane-bound intermediate, and residues in the N-terminal CA subdomain (CA-NTD) stabilize the last membrane-bound intermediate. Importantly, we found that all four critical surfaces act while Gag is associated with the cellular facilitators of assembly ABCE1 and DDX6. When correlated with existing structural data, our findings suggest the following model: Gag dimerizes via the CA-CTD dimer interface just before or during membrane targeting, individual CA-CTD hexamers form soon after membrane targeting, and the CA-NTD hexameric lattice forms just prior to capsid release. This model adds an important new dimension to current structural models by proposing the potential order in which key contacts within the immature capsid lattice are made during assembly in cells. IMPORTANCE: While much is known about the structure of the completed HIV-1 immature capsid and domains of its component Gag proteins, less is known about the sequence of events leading to formation of the HIV-1 immature capsid. Here we used biochemical and ultrastructural analyses to generate a temporospatial map showing the precise order in which four critical surfaces in Gag act during immature capsid formation in provirus-expressing cells. Because three of these surfaces make important contacts in the hexameric lattices that are found in the completed immature capsid, these data allow us to propose a model for the sequence of events leading to formation of the hexameric lattices. By providing a dynamic view of when and where critical Gag-Gag contacts form during the assembly process and how those contacts function in the nascent capsid, our study provides novel insights into how an immature capsid is built in infected cells.