ABSTRACT: The characteristic event that follows infection of a cell by retroviruses Including human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)/ simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) is the formation of a reverse transcription complex in which viral nucleic acids are synthesized. Nuclear transport of newly synthesized viral DNA requires phosphorylation of proteins in the reverse transcription complex by virion-associated cellular kinases. Recently, we demonstrated that disruption of cellular mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK)/extracellular signal-regulated kinase 2 (ERK-2) incorporation into SIV virions inhibits virus replication in nonproliferating target cells, indicating that MAPK/ERK-2 plays an important role in HIV /SIV replication. The mechanism of incorporation of MAPK/ERK-2 into virus particles is not defined. In this regard, we hypothesized that a likely interaction of MAPK/ERK-2 with Gag(p55) may enable its packaging into virus particles. In the present investigation, we provided evidence for the first time that MAPK/ERK-2 interacts with the structural Gag polyprotein p55 using a combination of mutagenesis and protein-protein interaction analysis. We further show that MAPK/ERK-2 interacts specifically with the poly-proline motif present in the capsid region of Gag(p55). Utilizing virus-like particles directed by Gag, we have shown that the exchange of conserved proline residues within capsid of Gag(p55) resulted in impaired incorporation of MAPK/ERK-2. In addition, the deletion of a domain comprising amino acids 201 to 255 within host cell MAPK/ERK-2 abrogates its interaction with Gag(p55). The relevance of the poly-proline motif is further evident by its conservation in diverse retroviruses, as noted from the sequence analysis and structural modeling studies of predicted amino acid sequences of the corresponding Gag proteins. Collectively, these data suggest that the interaction of MAPK/ERK-2 with Gag polyprotein results in its incorporation into virus particles and may be essential for retroviral replication.
Journal of Molecular Biology 07/2011; 410(4):681-97. · 4.00 Impact Factor