The matrix (MA) protein of the simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIVs) is encoded by the amino-terminal region of the Gag precursor and is the component of the viral capsid that lines the inner surface of the virus envelope. Previously, we identified domains in the SIV MA that are involved in the transport of Gag to the plasma membrane and in particle assembly. In this study, we characterized the role in the SIV life cycle of highly conserved residues within the SIV MA region spanning the two N-terminal α-helices H1 and H2. Our analyses identified two classes of MA mutants: (i) viruses encoding amino acid substitutions within α-helices H1 or H2 that were defective in envelope (Env) glycoprotein incorporation and exhibited impaired infectivity and (ii) viruses harboring mutations in the β-turn connecting helices H1 and H2 that were more infectious than the wild-type virus and displayed an enhanced ability to incorporate the Env glycoprotein. Remarkably, among the latter group of MA mutants, the R22L/G24L double amino acid substitution increased virus infectivity eightfold relative to the wild-type virus in single-cycle infectivity assays, an effect that correlated with a similar increase in Env incorporation. Furthermore, the R22L/G24L MA mutation partially or fully complemented single-point MA mutations that severely impair or block Env incorporation and virus infectivity. Our finding that the incorporation of the Env glycoprotein into virions can be upregulated by specific mutations within the SIV MA amino terminus strongly supports the notion that the SIV MA domain mediates Gag-Env association during particle formation.
|Number of pages||8|
|Journal||Journal of Virology|
|Publication status||Published - Oct 2003|