Featured publication: January 2015

Pascal Jalaguier, Réjean Cantin, Halim Maaroufi and Michel J. Tremblay Selective Acquisition of Host-Derived ICAM-1 by HIV-1 Is a Matrix-Dependent Process. Journal of Virology (2015) January 1, Volume 89, Issue 1, pages 323-36.

HIV-1 acquires an impressive number of foreign components during its formation. Despite all previous efforts spent studying the nature and functionality of virus-anchored host molecules, the exact mechanism(s) through which such constituents are acquired by HIV-1 is still unknown. However, in the case of ICAM-1, one of the most extensively studied transmembrane proteins found associated with mature virions, the Pr55(Gag) precursor polyprotein appears to be a potential interaction partner. We investigated and characterized at the molecular level the process of ICAM-1 incorporation using initially a Pr55(Gag)-based virus-like particle (VLP) model. Substitution of various domains of Pr55(Gag), such as the nucleocapsid, SP2, or p6, had no effect on the acquisition of ICAM-1. We found that the structural matrix protein (MA) is mandatory for ICAM-1 incorporation within VLPs, and we confirmed this novel observation with the replication-competent HIV-1 molecular clone NL4.3. Additional studies suggest that the C-terminal two-thirds of MA, and especially 13 amino acids positioned inside the fifth α-helix, are important. Moreover, based on three-dimensional (3D) modeling of protein-protein interactions (i.e., protein-protein docking) and further validation by a virus capture assay, we found that a series of acidic residues in the MA domain interact with basic amino acids located in the ICAM-1 cytoplasmic tail. Our findings provide new insight into the molecular mechanism governing the acquisition of ICAM-1, a host molecule known to enhance HIV-1 infectivity in a significant manner. Altogether, these observations offer a new avenue for the development of antiviral therapeutics that are directed at a target of host origin.
Intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1) is a cell surface host component known to be efficiently inserted within emerging HIV-1 particles. It has been demonstrated that host-derived ICAM-1 molecules act as a strong attachment factor and increase HIV-1 infectivity substantially. Despite previous efforts spent studying virus-associated host molecules, the precise mechanism(s) through which such constituents are inserted within emerging HIV-1 particles still remains obscure. Previous data suggest that the Pr55(Gag) precursor polyprotein appears as a potential interaction partner with ICAM-1. In the present study, we demonstrate that the HIV-1 matrix domain plays a key role in the ICAM-1 incorporation process. Some observations were confirmed with whole-virus preparations amplified in primary human cells, thereby providing physiological significance to our data.
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Research funded by CIHR

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