The thermodynamics of Pr55(Gag)-RNA interaction regulate the assembly of HIV

Authors: Hanumant S. Tanwar, Keith K. Khoo, Megan Garvey, Lynne Waddington, Andrew Leis, Marcel Hijnen, Tony Velkov, Geoff J. Dumsday, William J. McKinstry, Johnson Mak

SourcePLOS PATHOGENS 13 (2), February 21, 2017

Brief summary of the paper: The interactions that occur during HIV Pr55Gag oligomerization and genomic RNA packaging are essential elements that facilitate HIV assembly. However, mechanistic details of these interactions are not clearly defined.

Here, we overcome previous limitations in producing large quantities of full-length recombinant Pr55Gag that is required for isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) studies, and we have revealed the thermodynamic properties of HIV assembly for the first time.

Thermodynamic analysis showed that the binding between RNA and HIV Pr55Gag is an energetically favourable reaction (ΔG<0) that is further enhanced by the oligomerization of Pr55Gag. The change in enthalpy (ΔH) widens sequentially from: (1) Pr55Gag-Psi RNA binding during HIV genome selection; to (2) Pr55Gag-Guanosine Uridine (GU)-containing RNA binding in cytoplasm/plasma membrane; and then to (3) Pr55Gag-Adenosine(A)-containing RNA binding in immature HIV.

These data imply the stepwise increments of heat being released during HIV biogenesis may help to facilitate the process of viral assembly. By mimicking the interactions between A-containing RNA and oligomeric Pr55Gag in immature HIV, it was noted that a p6 domain truncated Pr50Gag Δp6 is less efficient than full-length Pr55Gag in this thermodynamic process.

These data suggest a potential unknown role of p6 in Pr55Gag-Pr55Gagoligomerization and/or Pr55Gag-RNA interaction during HIV assembly. Our data provide direct evidence on how nucleic acid sequences and the oligomeric state of Pr55Gag regulate HIV assembly.