Jacob Lebowitz

National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD, United States

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Publications (14)59.5 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Retrovirus particle assembly is mediated by the Gag protein. Gag is a multi-domain protein containing discrete domains connected by flexible linkers. When recombinant HIV-1 Gag protein (lacking myristate at its N terminus and the p6 domain at its C terminus) is mixed with nucleic acid, it assembles into virus-like particles (VLPs) in a fully defined system in vitro. However, this assembly is defective in that the radius of curvature of the VLPs is far smaller than that of authentic immature virions. This defect can be corrected to varying degrees by addition of inositol phosphates to the assembly reaction. We have now explored the binding of inositol hexakisphosphate (IP6) to Gag and its effects upon the interactions between Gag protein molecules in solution. Our data indicate that basic regions at both ends of the protein contribute to IP6 binding. Gag is in monomer-dimer equilibrium in solution, and mutation of the previously described dimer interface within its capsid domain drastically reduces Gag dimerization. In contrast, when IP6 is added, Gag is in monomer-trimer rather than monomer-dimer equilibrium. The Gag protein with a mutation at the dimer interface also remains almost exclusively monomeric in IP6; thus the "dimer interface" is essential for the trimeric interaction in IP6. We discuss possible explanations for these results, including a change in conformation within the capsid domain induced by the binding of IP6 to other domains within the protein. The participation of both ends of Gag in IP6 interaction suggests that Gag is folded over in solution, with its ends near each other in three-dimensional space; direct support for this conclusion is provided in a companion manuscript. As Gag is an extended rod in immature virions, this apparent proximity of the ends in solution implies that it undergoes a major conformational change during particle assembly.
    Journal of Molecular Biology 02/2007; 365(3):799-811. · 3.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A single multi-domain viral protein, termed Gag, is sufficient for assembly of retrovirus-like particles in mammalian cells. We have purified the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Gag protein (lacking myristate at its N terminus and the p6 domain at its C terminus) from bacteria. This protein is capable of assembly into virus-like particles in a defined in vitro system. We have reported that it is in monomer-dimer equilibrium in solution, and have described a mutant Gag protein that remains monomeric at high concentrations in solution. We report that the mutant protein retains several properties of wild-type Gag. This mutant enabled us to analyze solutions of monomeric protein. Hydrodynamic studies on the mutant protein showed that it is highly asymmetric, with a frictional ratio of 1.66. Small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) experiments confirmed its asymmetry and yielded an R(g) value of 34 A. Atomic-level structures of individual domains within Gag have previously been determined, but these domains are connected in Gag by flexible linkers. We constructed a series of models of the mutant Gag protein based on these domain structures, and tested each model computationally for its agreement with the experimental hydrodynamic and SANS data. The only models consistent with the data were those in which Gag was folded over, with its N-terminal matrix domain near its C-terminal nucleocapsid domain in three-dimensional space. Since Gag is a rod-shaped molecule in the assembled immature virion, these findings imply that Gag undergoes a major conformational change upon virus assembly.
    Journal of Molecular Biology 02/2007; 365(3):812-24. · 3.91 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Recently, poxviruses were found to encode a protein with signature motifs present in the RuvC family of Holliday junction (HJ) resolvases, which have a key role in homologous recombination in bacteria. The vaccinia virus homolog A22 specifically cleaved synthetic HJ DNA in vitro and was required for the in vivo resolution of viral DNA concatemers into unit-length genomes with hairpin telomeres. It was of interest to further characterize a poxvirus resolvase in view of the low sequence similarity with RuvC, the absence of virus-encoded RuvA and RuvB to interact with, and the different functions of the viral and bacterial resolvases. Because purified A22 aggregated severely, studies were carried out with maltose-binding protein fused to A22 as well as to RuvC. Using gel filtration, chemical cross-linking, analytical ultracentrifugation, and light scattering, we demonstrated that A22 and RuvC are homodimers in solution. Furthermore, the dimeric form of the resolvase associated with HJ DNA, presumably facilitating the symmetrical cleavage of such structures. Like RuvC, A22 symmetrically cleaved fixed HJ junctions as well as junctions allowing strand mobility. Unlike RuvC and other members of the family, however, the poxvirus enzyme exhibited little cleavage sequence specificity. Structural and enzymatic similarities of poxvirus, bacterial, and fungal mitochondrial HJ resolvases are consistent with their predicted evolutionary relationship based on sequence analysis. The absence of a homologous resolvase in mammalian cells makes these microbial enzymes excellent potential therapeutic targets.
    Journal of Biological Chemistry 05/2006; 281(17):11618-26. · 4.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We reported that immunization with recombinant proteins derived from vaccinia virus (VV) particles could provide protection against infection. Here we describe the physical and antigenic properties of the L1R membrane protein. The recombinant protein (L1R(185t)) was secreted as a monomer and correct folding was suggested by the presence of three intramolecular disulfide bonds and binding to conformation-specific monoclonal antibodies (MAbs). Furthermore, anti-L1R(185t) rabbit antisera exhibited potent virus-neutralizing activity against the IMV form of VV. We raised six MAbs against L1R(185t). Three recognized linear epitopes (residues 118--128) and neutralized IMV infectivity. These MAbs blocked binding of each other to L1R(185t) but failed to block binding of two previously described neutralizing anti-L1R MAbs, 7D11 and 2D5. The latter two antibodies blocked each other in binding L1R(185t). Thus, two antigenic sites on L1R overlap functional domains and based on recent structural studies these are found in accessible regions of the IMV L1R protein.
    Virology 11/2005; 341(1):59-71. · 3.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: During morphogenesis, poxviruses undergo a remarkable transition from spherical immature forms to brick-shaped infectious particles lacking helical or icosahedral symmetry. In this study, we show that the transitory honeycomb lattice coating the lipoprotein membrane of immature vaccinia virus particles is formed from trimers of a 62-kD protein encoded by the viral D13L gene. Deep-etch electron microscopy demonstrated that anti-D13 antibodies bound to the external protein coat and that lattice fragments were in affinity-purified D13 preparations. Soluble D13 appeared mostly trimeric by gel electrophoresis and ultracentrifugation, which is consistent with structural requirements for a honeycomb. In the presence or absence of other virion proteins, a mutated D13 with one amino acid substitution formed stacks of membrane-unassociated flat sheets that closely resembled the curved honeycombs of immature virions except for the absence of pentagonal facets. A homologous domain that is present in D13 and capsid proteins of certain other lipid-containing viruses support the idea that the developmental stages of poxviruses reflect their evolution from an icosahedral ancestor.
    The Journal of Cell Biology 10/2005; 170(6):971-81. · 10.82 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) exterior envelope glycoprotein, gp120, mediates binding to the viral receptors and, along with the transmembrane glycoprotein gp41, is a major target for neutralizing antibodies. We asked whether replacing the gp41 fusion/trimerization domain with a stable trimerization motif might lead to a more stable gp120 trimer that would be amenable to structural and immunologic analysis. To obtain stable gp120 trimers, a heterologous trimerization motif, GCN4, was appended to the C terminus of YU2gp120. Biochemical analysis indicated that the gp120-GCN4 trimers were superior to gp140 molecules in their initial homogeneity, and trilobed structures were observable by electron microscopy. Biophysical analysis of gp120-GCN4 trimers by isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC) and ultracentrifugation analyses indicated that most likely two molecules of soluble CD4 could bind to one gp120-GCN4 trimer. To further examine restricted CD4 stoichiometric binding to the gp120-GCN4 trimers, we generated a low-affinity CD4 binding trimer by introducing a D457V change in the CD4 binding site of each gp120 monomeric subunit. The mutant trimers could definitively bind only one soluble CD4 molecule, as determined by ITC and sedimentation equilibrium centrifugation. These data indicate that there are weak interactions between the gp120 monomeric subunits of the GCN4-stabilized trimers that can be detected by low-affinity ligand sensing. By similar analysis, we also determined that removal of the variable loops V1, V2, and V3 in the context of the gp120-GCN4 proteins allowed the binding of three CD4 molecules per trimer. Interestingly, both the gp120-GCN4 variants displayed a restricted stoichiometry for the CD4-induced antibody 17b of one antibody molecule binding per trimer. This restriction was not evident upon removal of the variable loops V1 and V2 loops, consistent with conformational constraints in the wild-type gp120 trimers and similar to those inherent in the functional Env spike. Thus, the gp120-GCN4 trimers demonstrate several properties that are consistent with some of those anticipated for gp120 in the context of the viral spike.
    Journal of Virology 09/2005; 79(15):9954-69. · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The envelope proteins (Env) of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) form homo-oligomers in the endoplasmic reticulum. The oligomeric structure of Env is maintained, but is less stable, after cleavage in a Golgi compartment and transport to the surface of infected cells. Functional, virion-associated HIV-1 and SIV Env have an almost exclusively trimeric structure. In addition, a soluble form of SIV Env (gp140) forms a nearly homogeneous population of trimers. Here, we describe the oligomeric structure of soluble, uncleaved HIV-1 gp140 and modifications that promote a stable trimeric structure. Biochemical and biophysical analyses, including sedimentation equilibrium and scanning transmission electron microscopy, revealed that unmodified HIV-1 gp140 purified as a heterogeneous range of oligomeric species, including dimers and aggregates. Deletion of the V2 domain alone or, especially, both the V1 and V2 domains reduced dimer formation but promoted aggregation rather than trimerization. Expressing gp140 with mannose-only oligosaccharides did not eliminate heterogeneity. Replacement of the entire gp41 segment of HIV-1 gp140 or just the N-terminal half (85 amino acids) of this segment with the corresponding region of SIV was sufficient to confer efficient trimerization for gp140 derived from clade B and C isolates. Importantly, the relatively small segment of the HIV Env replaced by SIV sequences contains no known targets of neutralizing antibody. The soluble trimeric form of HIV-1 Env should prove useful for assessment of antigenic structure and immunogenicity.
    Journal of Virology 04/2004; 78(5):2265-76. · 5.08 Impact Factor
  • J. Lebowitz, R. D. Leapman, B. Moss
    Journal of Virology - J VIROL. 01/2004; 78(5):2265-2276.
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    Jacob Lebowitz, Marc S Lewis, Peter Schuck
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    ABSTRACT: Analytical ultracentrifugation (AU) is reemerging as a versatile tool for the study of proteins. Monitoring the sedimentation of macromolecules in the centrifugal field allows their hydrodynamic and thermodynamic characterization in solution, without interaction with any matrix or surface. The combination of new instrumentation and powerful computational software for data analysis has led to major advances in the characterization of proteins and protein complexes. The pace of new advancements makes it difficult for protein scientists to gain sufficient expertise to apply modern AU to their research problems. To address this problem, this review builds from the basic concepts to advanced approaches for the characterization of protein systems, and key computational and internet resources are provided. We will first explore the characterization of proteins by sedimentation velocity (SV). Determination of sedimentation coefficients allows for the modeling of the hydrodynamic shape of proteins and protein complexes. The computational treatment of SV data to resolve sedimenting components has been achieved. Hence, SV can be very useful in the identification of the oligomeric state and the stoichiometry of heterogeneous interactions. The second major part of the review covers sedimentation equilibrium (SE) of proteins, including membrane proteins and glycoproteins. This is the method of choice for molar mass determinations and the study of self-association and heterogeneous interactions, such as protein-protein, protein-nucleic acid, and protein-small molecule binding.
    Protein Science 10/2002; 11(9):2067-79. · 2.74 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The envelope protein (Env) of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 forms homo-oligomers in the endoplasmic reticulum. The oligomeric structure of Env is maintained after cleavage in a Golgi compartment and transport to the surfaces of infected cells, where incorporation into budding virions takes place. Here, we use biophysical techniques to assess the oligomeric valency of virion-associated Env prior to fusion activation. Virion-associated Env oligomers were stabilized by chemical cross-linking prior to detergent extraction and were purified by immunoaffinity chromatography. Gel filtration revealed a single predominant oligomeric species, and sedimentation equilibrium analysis-derived mass values indicated a trimeric structure. Determination of the masses of individual Env molecules by scanning transmission electron microscopy demonstrated that virion-associated Env was trimeric, and a triangular morphology was observed in 20 to 30% of the molecules. These results, which firmly establish the oligomeric structure of human immunodeficiency virus virion-associated Env, parallel those of our previous analysis of the simian immunodeficiency virus Env.
    Journal of Virology 09/2002; 76(15):7863-7. · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The envelope proteins (env) of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) and HIV type 1 assemble to form noncovalently associated oligomers in the endoplasmic reticulum. After cleavage in a Golgi compartment, oligomeric env complexes are transported to the surface of infected cells, where incorporation into budding virions can occur. Difficulties in obtaining adequate quantities of virions retaining env, as well as the unstable nature and hydrophobicity of the oligomer, may account for the absence of previous biophysical studies to determine the oligomeric valency of membrane-associated env. The aim of this study was to evaluate the oligomeric state of SIV env before membrane-fusion activation. Virion-associated env, obtained by crosslinking and detergent extraction, and non-crosslinked secreted env ectodomain (recombinant gp140) were purified by lentil-lectin chromatography and gel filtration as single predominant species. Sedimentation equilibrium-derived mass values for both forms of SIV env were close to those predicted for trimeric assemblies. Determination of the mass of individual molecules by scanning transmission electron microscopy confirmed that SIV virion-associated env and gp140 formed largely homogeneous populations of trimers. Furthermore, a triangular or tri-lobed morphology was clearly visualized in a subset of the trimers.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 01/2002; 98(26):14877-82. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The envelope protein of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 HIV-1 undergoes proteolytic cleavage in the Golgi complex to produce subunits designated gp120 and gp41, which remain noncovalently associated. While gp41 has a well-characterized oligomeric structure, the maintenance of gp41-independent gp120 intersubunit contacts remains a contentious issue. Using recombinant vaccinia virus to achieve high-level expression of gp120 in mammalian cells combined with gel filtration analysis, we were able to isolate a discrete oligomeric form of gp120. Oligomerization of gp120 occurred intracellularly between 30 and 120 min after synthesis. Analysis by sedimentation equilibrium unequivocally identified the oligomeric species as a dimer. In order to identify the domains involved in the intersubunit contact, we expressed a series of gp120 proteins lacking various domains and assessed the effects of mutation on oligomeric structure. Deletion of the V1 or V3 loops had little effect on the relative amounts of monomer and dimer in comparison to wild-type gp120. In contrast, deletion of either all or part of the V2 loop drastically reduced dimer formation, indicating that this domain is required for intersubunit contact formation. Consistent with this, the V2 loop of the dimer was less accessible than that of the monomer to a specific monoclonal antibody. Previous studies have shown that while the V2 loop is not an absolute requirement for viral entry, the absence of this domain reduces viral resistance to neutralization by monoclonal antibodies or sera. We propose that the quaternary structure of gp120 may contribute to resistance to neutralization by limiting the exposure of conserved epitopes.
    Journal of Virology 06/2000; 74(10):4448-55. · 5.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The envelope protein of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 HIV-1 undergoes proteolytic cleavage in the Golgi complex to produce subunits designated gp120 and gp41, which remain noncovalently associated. While gp41 has a well-characterized oligomeric structure, the maintenance of gp41-independent gp120 intersubunit contacts remains a contentious issue. Using recombinant vaccinia virus to achieve high-level expression of gp120 in mammalian cells combined with gel filtration analysis, we were able to isolate a discrete oligomeric form of gp120. Oligomerization of gp120 occurred intracellularly between 30 and 120 min after synthesis. Analysis by sedimentation equilibrium unequivocally identified the oligomeric species as a dimer. In order to identify the domains involved in the intersubunit contact, we expressed a series of gp120 proteins lacking various domains and assessed the effects of mutation on oligomeric structure. Deletion of the V1 or V3 loops had little effect on the relative amounts of monomer and dimer in comparison to wild-type gp120. In contrast, deletion of either all or part of the V2 loop drastically reduced dimer formation, indicating that this domain is required for intersubunit contact formation. Consistent with this, the V2 loop of the dimer was less accessible than that of the monomer to a specific monoclonal antibody. Previous studies have shown that while the V2 loop is not an absolute requirement for viral entry, the absence of this domain reduces viral resistance to neutralization by monoclonal antibodies or sera. We propose that the quaternary structure of gp120 may contribute to resistance to neutralization by limiting the exposure of conserved epitopes.
    Journal of Virology - J VIROL. 01/2000; 74(10):4448-4455.
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    Jacob Lebowitz, Marc S. Lewis, Peter Schuck

Publication Stats

788 Citations
59.50 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2002–2007
    • National Institutes of Health
      • Office of AIDS Research
      Bethesda, MD, United States
  • 2005
    • Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
      • Department of Cancer Immunology and AIDS
      Boston, Massachusetts, United States
  • 2002–2005
    • National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
      • Laboratory of Immunoregulation
      Maryland, United States