PF74 reinforces the HIV-1 capsid to impair reverse transcription-induced uncoating

Sanela Rankovic, Ruben Ramalho, Christopher Aiken, Itay Rousso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

40 Scopus citations

Abstract

The RNA genome of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is enclosed in a cone-shaped capsid shell that disassembles following cell entry via a process known as uncoating. During HIV-1 infection, the capsid is important for reverse transcription and entry of the virus into the target cell nucleus. The small molecule PF74 inhibits HIV-1 infection at early stages by binding to the capsid and perturbing uncoating. However, the mechanism by which PF74 alters capsid stability and reduces viral infection is presently unknown. Here, we show, using atomic force microscopy (AFM), that binding of PF74 to recombinant capsid-like assemblies and to HIV-1 isolated cores stabilizes the capsid in a concentration-dependent manner. At a PF74 concentration of 10 μM, the mechanical stability of the core is increased to a level similar to that of the intrinsically hyperstable capsid mutant E45A. PF74 also prevented the complete disassembly of HIV-1 cores normally observed during 24 h of reverse transcription. Specifically, cores treated with PF74 only partially disassembled: the main body of the capsid remained intact and stiff, and a cap-like structure dissociated from the narrow end of the core. Moreover, the internal coiled structure that was observed to form during reverse transcription in vitro persisted throughout the duration of the measurement (~24 h). Our results provide direct evidence that PF74 directly stabilizes the HIV-1 capsid lattice, thereby permitting reverse transcription while interfering with a late step in uncoating. IMPORTANCE The capsid-binding small molecule PF74 inhibits HIV-1 infection at early stages and perturbs uncoating. However, the mechanism by which PF74 alters capsid stability and reduces viral infection is presently unknown. We recently introduced time-lapse atomic force microscopy to study the morphology and physical properties of HIV-1 cores during the course of reverse transcription. Here, we apply this AFM methodology to show that PF74 prevented the complete disassembly of HIV-1 cores normally observed during 24 h of reverse transcription. Specifically, cores with PF74 only partially disassembled: the main body of the capsid remained intact and stiff, but a cap-like structure dissociated from the narrow end of the core HIV-1. Our result provides direct evidence that PF74 directly stabilizes the HIV-1 capsid lattice.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere00845
JournalJournal of Virology
Volume92
Issue number20
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2018

Keywords

  • Atomic force microscopy
  • Capsid
  • HIV-1
  • PF74
  • Reverse transcription
  • Uncoating

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology

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