Membrane-Active Sequences within gp41 Membrane Proximal External Region (MPER) Modulate MPER-Containing Peptidyl Fusion Inhibitor Activity and the Biosynthesis of HIV-1 Structural Proteins
Zhang, Si Min
Tam, James Pingkwan
Date of Issue2015
School of Biological Sciences
The membrane proximal external region (MPER) is a highly conserved membrane-active region located at the juxtamembrane positions within class I viral fusion glycoproteins and essential for membrane fusion events during viral entry. The MPER in the human immunodeficiency virus type I (HIV-1) envelope protein (Env) interacts with the lipid bilayers through a cluster of tryptophan (Trp) residues and a C-terminal cholesterol-interacting motif. The inclusion of the MPER N-terminal sequence contributes to the membrane reactivity and anti-viral efficacy of the first two anti-HIV peptidyl fusion inhibitors T20 and T1249. As a type I transmembrane protein, Env also interacts with the cellular membranes during its biosynthesis and trafficking. Here we investigated the roles of MPER membrane-active sequences during both viral entry and assembly, specifically, their roles in the design of peptidyl fusion inhibitors and the biosynthesis of viral structural proteins. We found that elimination of the membrane-active elements in MPER peptides, namely, penta Trp→alanine (Ala) substitutions and the disruption of the C-terminal cholesterol-interacting motif through deletion inhibited the anti-viral effect against the pseudotyped HIV-1. Furthermore, as compared to C-terminal dimerization, N-terminal dimerization of MPER peptides and N-terminal extension with five helix-forming residues enhanced their anti-viral efficacy substantially. The secondary structure study revealed that the penta-Trp→Ala substitutions also increased the helical content in the MPER sequence, which prompted us to study the biological relevance of such mutations in pre-fusion Env. We observed that Ala mutations of Trp664, Trp668 and Trp670 in MPER moderately lowered the intracellular and intraviral contents of Env while significantly elevating the content of another viral structural protein, p55/Gag and its derivative p24/capsid. The data suggest a role of the gp41 MPER in the membrane-reactive events during both viral entry and budding, and provide insights into the future development of anti-viral therapeutics.
© 2015 Zhang et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.