HIV-1 reverse transcription is achieved in the newly infected cell before viral DNA (vDNA) nuclear import. Reverse transcriptase (RT) has previously been shown to function as a molecular motor, dismantling the nucleocapsid complex that binds the viral genome as soon as plus-strand DNA synthesis initiates. We first propose a detailed model of this dismantling in close relationship with the sequential conversion from RNA to double-stranded (ds) DNA, focusing on the nucleocapsid protein (NCp7). The HIV-1 DNA-containing preintegration complex (PIC) resulting from completion of reverse transcription is translocated through the nuclear pore. The PIC nucleoprotein architecture is poorly understood but contains at least two HIV-1 proteins initially from the virion core, namely Integrase (IN) and the viral protein r (Vpr). We next present a set of electron micrographs supporting that Vpr behaves as a DNA architectural protein, initiating multiple DNA bridges over more than 500 base pairs (bp). These complexes are shown to interact with NCp7 bound to single-stranded nucleic acid regions that are thought to maintain IN binding during dsDNA synthesis, concurrently with nucleocapsid complex dismantling. This unexpected binding of Vpr conveniently leads to a compacted but filamentous folding of the vDNA that should favor its nuclear import. Finally, nucleocapsid-like aggregates engaged in dsDNA synthesis appear to efficiently bind to F-actin filaments, a property that may be involved in targeting complexes to the nuclear envelope. More generally, this article highlights unique possibilities offered by in vitro reconstitution approaches combined with macromolecular imaging to gain insights into the mechanisms that alter the nucleoprotein architecture of the HIV-1 genome, ultimately enabling its insertion into the nuclear chromatin.
HIV-1; nucleocapsid; Viral protein r; reverse transcription; pre-integration complex; integrase
Ku, a cellular complex required for human cell survival and involved in double strand break DNA repair and multiple other cellular processes, may modulate retroviral multiplication, although the precise mechanism through which it acts is still controversial. Recently, Ku was identified as a possible anti-human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) target in human cells, in two global approaches. Here we investigated the role of Ku on the HIV-1 replication cycle by analyzing the expression level of a panel of non-replicative lentiviral vectors expressing the green fluorescent protein in human colorectal carcinoma HCT 116 cells, stably or transiently depleted of Ku. We found that in this cellular model the depletion of Ku did not affect the efficiency of (pre-)integrative steps but decreased the early HIV-1 expression by acting at the transcriptional level. This negative effect was specific of the HIV-1 promoter, required the obligatory step of viral DNA integration and was reversed by transient depletion of p53. We also provided evidence on a direct binding of Ku to HIV-1 LTR in transduced cells. Ku not only promotes the early transcription from the HIV-1 promoter, but also limits the constitution of viral latency. Moreover, in the presence of a normal level of Ku, HIV-1 expression was gradually lost over time, likely due to the counter-selection of HIV-1-expressing cells. On the contrary, the reactivation of transgene expression from HIV-1 by means of trichostatin A- or tumor necrosis factor α-administration was enhanced under condition of Ku haplodepletion, suggesting a phenomenon of provirus latency. These observations plead in favor of the hypothesis that Ku has an impact on HIV-1 expression and latency at early- and mid-time after integration.
Most antiretroviral medical treatments were developed and tested principally on HIV-1 B nonrecombinant strain, which represents less than 10% of the worldwide HIV-1-infected population. HIV-1 circulating recombinant form CRF02_AG is prevalent in West Africa and is becoming more frequent in other countries. Previous studies suggested that the HIV-1 polymorphisms might be associated to variable susceptibility to antiretrovirals. This study is pointed to compare the susceptibility to integrase (IN) inhibitors of HIV-1 subtype CRF02_AG IN respectively to HIV-1 B. Structural models of B and CRF02_AG HIV-1 INs as unbound enzymes and in complex with the DNA substrate were built by homology modeling. IN inhibitors—raltegravir (RAL), elvitegravir (ELV) and L731,988—were docked onto the models, and their binding affinity for both HIV-1 B and CRF02_AG INs was compared. CRF02_AG INs were cloned and expressed from plasma of integrase strand transfer inhibitor (INSTI)-naïve infected patients. Our in silico and in vitro studies showed that the sequence variations between the INs of CRF02_AG and B strains did not lead to any notable difference in the structural features of the enzyme and did not impact the susceptibility to the IN inhibitors. The binding modes and affinities of INSTI inhibitors to B and CRF02_AG INs were found to be similar. Although previous studies suggested that several naturally occurring variations of CRF02_AG IN might alter either IN/vDNA interactions or INSTIs binding, our study demonstrate that these variations do affect neither IN activity nor its susceptibility to INSTIs.
Contact with HIV-1 envelope protein elicits release of ATP through pannexin-1 channels on target cells; by activating purinergic receptors and Pyk2 kinase in target cells, this extracellular ATP boosts HIV-1 infectivity.
Extracellular adenosine triphosphate (ATP) can activate purinergic receptors of the plasma membrane and modulate multiple cellular functions. We report that ATP is released from HIV-1 target cells through pannexin-1 channels upon interaction between the HIV-1 envelope protein and specific target cell receptors. Extracellular ATP then acts on purinergic receptors, including P2Y2, to activate proline-rich tyrosine kinase 2 (Pyk2) kinase and transient plasma membrane depolarization, which in turn stimulate fusion between Env-expressing membranes and membranes containing CD4 plus appropriate chemokine co-receptors. Inhibition of any of the constituents of this cascade (pannexin-1, ATP, P2Y2, and Pyk2) impairs the replication of HIV-1 mutant viruses that are resistant to conventional antiretroviral agents. Altogether, our results reveal a novel signaling pathway involved in the early steps of HIV-1 infection that may be targeted with new therapeutic approaches.
We studied seven heavily pretreated HIV-2-infected patients exhibiting a virological failure while receiving a salvage raltegravir-containing regimen. At the time of virological failure, different resistance genetic pathways were observed: T97A-Y143C, Q148K, Q148R, G140S-Q148R, E92Q-Y143R-N155H, and T97A-N155H. Thus, despite a 40% difference in integrase genes between HIV-1 and HIV-2, the genetic pathways leading to raltegravir resistance are similar.
HIV-2 is endemic in West Africa and has spread throughout Europe. However, the alternatives for HIV-2-infected patients are more limited than for HIV-1. Raltegravir, an integrase inhibitor, is active against wild-type HIV-2, with a susceptibility to this drug similar to that of HIV-1, and is therefore a promising option for use in the treatment of HIV-2-infected patients. Recent studies have shown that HIV-2 resistance to raltegravir involves one of three resistance mutations, N155H, Q148R/H and Y143C, previously identified as resistance determinants in the HIV-1 integrase coding sequence. The resistance of HIV-1 IN has been confirmed in vitro for mutated enzymes harboring these mutations, but no such confirmation has yet been obtained for HIV-2.
The integrase coding sequence was amplified from plasma samples collected from ten patients infected with HIV-2 viruses, of whom three RAL-naïve and seven on RAL-based treatment at the time of virological failure. The genomes of the resistant strains were cloned and three patterns involving N155H, G140S/Q148R or Y143C mutations were identified. Study of the susceptibility of integrases, either amplified from clinical isolates or obtained by mutagenesis demonstrated that mutations at positions 155 and 148 render the integrase resistant to RAL. The G140S mutation conferred little resistance, but compensated for the catalytic defect due to the Q148R mutation. Conversely, Y143C alone did not confer resistance to RAL unless E92Q is also present. Furthermore, the introduction of the Y143C mutation into the N155H resistant background decreased the resistance level of enzymes containing the N155H mutation.
This study confirms that HIV-2 resistance to RAL is due to the N155H, G140S/Q148R or E92Q/Y143C mutations. The N155H and G140S/Q148R mutations make similar contributions to resistance in both HIV-1 and HIV-2, but Y143C is not sufficient to account for the resistance of HIV-2 genomes harboring this mutation. For Y143C to confer resistance in vitro, it must be accompanied by E92Q, which therefore plays a more important role in the HIV-2 context than in the HIV-1 context. Finally, the Y143C mutation counteracts the resistance conferred by the N155H mutation, probably accounting for the lack of detection of these mutations together in a single genome.
HIV-2; integrase; raltegravir; resistance; mutation
Integrase (IN), the HIV-1 enzyme responsible for the integration of the viral genome into the chromosomes of infected cells, is the target of the recently approved antiviral raltegravir (RAL). Despite this drug's activity against viruses resistant to other antiretrovirals, failures of raltegravir therapy were observed, in association with the emergence of resistance due to mutations in the integrase coding region. Two pathways involving primary mutations on residues N155 and Q148 have been characterized. It was suggested that mutations at residue Y143 might constitute a third primary pathway for resistance. The aims of this study were to investigate the susceptibility of HIV-1 Y143R/C mutants to raltegravir and to determine the effects of these mutations on the IN-mediated reactions. Our observations demonstrate that Y143R/C mutants are strongly impaired for both of these activities in vitro. However, Y143R/C activity can be kinetically restored, thereby reproducing the effect of the secondary G140S mutation that rescues the defect associated with the Q148R/H mutants. A molecular modeling study confirmed that Y143R/C mutations play a role similar to that determined for Q148R/H mutations. In the viral replicative context, this defect leads to a partial block of integration responsible for a weak replicative capacity. Nevertheless, the Y143 mutant presented a high level of resistance to raltegravir. Furthermore, the 50% effective concentration (EC50) determined for Y143R/C mutants was significantly higher than that obtained with G140S/Q148R mutants. Altogether our results not only show that the mutation at position Y143 is one of the mechanisms conferring resistance to RAL but also explain the delayed emergence of this mutation.
HIV-1 integrase catalyzes the insertion of the viral genome into chromosomal DNA. We characterized the structural determinants of the 3′-processing reaction specificity—the first reaction of the integration process—at the DNA-binding level. We found that the integrase N-terminal domain, containing a pseudo zinc-finger motif, plays a key role, at least indirectly, in the formation of specific integrase–DNA contacts. This motif mediates a cooperative DNA binding of integrase that occurs only with the cognate/viral DNA sequence and the physiologically relevant Mg2+ cofactor. The DNA-binding was essentially non-cooperative with Mn2+ or using non-specific/random sequences, regardless of the metallic cofactor. 2,2′-Dithiobisbenzamide-1 induced zinc ejection from integrase by covalently targeting the zinc-finger motif, and significantly decreased the Hill coefficient of the Mg2+-mediated integrase–DNA interaction, without affecting the overall affinity. Concomitantly, 2,2′-dithiobisbenzamide-1 severely impaired 3′-processing (IC50 = 11–15 nM), suggesting that zinc ejection primarily perturbs the nature of the active integrase oligomer. A less specific and weaker catalytic effect of 2,2′-dithiobisbenzamide-1 is mediated by Cys 56 in the catalytic core and, notably, accounts for the weaker inhibition of the non-cooperative Mn2+-dependent 3′-processing. Our data show that the cooperative DNA-binding mode is strongly related to the sequence-specific DNA-binding, and depends on the simultaneous presence of the Mg2+ cofactor and the zinc effector.
Integration of the HIV-1 viral DNA generated by reverse transcription of the RNA genome into the host cell chromosomes is a key step of viral replication, catalyzed by the viral integrase. In October 2007, the first integrase inhibitor, raltegravir, was approved for clinical use under the name of Isentress™. The results of the various clinical trials that have evaluated raltegravir have been very encouraging with regard to the immunological and virological efficacy and tolerance. However, as observed for other anti-retrovirals, specific resistance mutations have been identified in patients failing to respond to treatment with raltegravir. Although knowledge of the integrase structural biology remains fragmentary, the structures and modeling data available might provide relevant clues on the origin of the emergence of these resistance mutations. In this review, we describe the mechanism of action of this drug and the main data relating to its use in vivo, together with recent structural data important to our understanding of the origin of viral resistance.
HIV-1 integrase; raltegravir; isentress; resistance; molecular modeling
Raltegravir (MK-0518) is the first integrase (IN) inhibitor to be approved by the US FDA and is currently used in clinical treatment of viruses resistant to other antiretroviral compounds. Virological failure of Raltegravir treatment is associated with mutations in the IN gene following two main distinct genetic pathways involving either the N155 or Q148 residue. Importantly, in most cases, an additional mutation at the position G140 is associated with the Q148 pathway. Here, we investigated the viral DNA kinetics for mutants identified in Raltegravir-resistant patients. We found that (i) integration is impaired for Q148H when compared with the wild-type, G140S and G140S/Q148H mutants; and (ii) the N155H and G140S mutations confer lower levels of resistance than the Q148H mutation. We also characterized the corresponding recombinant INs properties. Enzymatic performances closely parallel ex vivo studies. The Q148H mutation ‘freezes’ IN into a catalytically inactive state. By contrast, the conformational transition converting the inactive form into an active form is rescued by the G140S/Q148H double mutation. In conclusion, the Q148H mutation is responsible for resistance to Raltegravir whereas the G140S mutation increases viral fitness in the G140S/Q148H context. Altogether, these results account for the predominance of G140S/Q148H mutants in clinical trials using Raltegravir.
Integration of retroviral DNA is an obligatory step of retrovirus replication because proviral DNA is the template for productive infection. Integrase, a retroviral enzyme, catalyses integration. The process of integration can be divided into two sequential reactions. The first one, named 3'-processing, corresponds to a specific endonucleolytic reaction which prepares the viral DNA extremities to be competent for the subsequent covalent insertion, named strand transfer, into the host cell genome by a trans-esterification reaction. Recently, a novel specific activity of the full length integrase was reported, in vitro, by our group for two retroviral integrases (HIV-1 and PFV-1). This activity of internal cleavage occurs at a specific palindromic sequence mimicking the LTR-LTR junction described into the 2-LTR circles which are peculiar viral DNA forms found during viral infection. Moreover, recent studies demonstrated the existence of a weak palindromic consensus found at the integration sites. Taken together, these data underline the propensity of retroviral integrases for binding symmetrical sequences and give perspectives for targeting specific sequences used for gene therapy.
Raltegravir (MK-0518) is a potent inhibitor of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) integrase and is clinically effective against viruses resistant to other classes of antiretroviral agents. However, it can select mutations in the HIV integrase gene. Nine heavily pretreated patients who received salvage therapy including raltegravir and who subsequently developed virological failure under raltegravir therapy were studied. For each patient, the sequences of the integrase-coding region were determined and compared to that at the beginning of the treatment. Four different mutation profiles were identified in these nine patients: E92Q, G140S Q148H, N155H, and E157Q mutations. For four patients, each harboring a different profile, the wild-type and mutated integrases were produced, purified, and assayed in vitro. All the mutations identified altered the activities of integrase protein: both 3′ processing and strand transfer activities were moderately affected in the E92Q mutant; strand transfer was markedly impaired in the N155H mutant; both activities were strongly impaired in the G140S Q148H mutant; and the E157Q mutant was almost completely inactive. The sensitivities of wild-type and mutant integrases to raltegravir were compared. The E92Q and G140S Q148H profiles were each associated with a 7- to 8-fold decrease in sensitivity, and the N155H mutant was more than 14-fold less sensitive to raltegravir. At least four genetic profiles (E92Q, G140S Q148H, N155H, and E157Q) can be associated with in vivo treatment failure and resistance to raltegravir. These mutations led to strong impairment of enzymes in vitro in the absence of raltegravir: strand transfer activity was affected, and in some cases 3′ processing was also impaired.
We previously reported that the stimulation of monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM) by plate-bound intravenous immune globulins (IVIg) inhibits HIV-1 replication (Perez-Bercoff et al, J Virol, 2003, 77:4081). Here, we show that IgG immune complexes also suppress HIV-1 replication in MDMs and that activating receptors for the Fc portion of IgG - FcγRI, FcγRIIA and FcγRIII are responsible for the inhibition. MDM stimulation through FcγRs induces activation signals and the secretion of HIV-1 modulatory cytokines, such as M-CSF, TNF-α and MDC. However, none of these cytokines contribute to HIV-1 suppression. HIV-1 entry and post-integration steps of viral replication are not affected, whereas reduced levels of reverse transcription products and of integrated proviruses, as determined by real time PCR analysis, account for the suppression of HIV-1 gene expression in FcγR-activated MDMs. We found that FcγR-dependent activation of MDMs also inhibits the replication of HIV-2, SIVmac and SIVagm, suggesting a common control mechanism for primate immunodeficiency lentiviruses in activated macrophages.
Animals; Cells; Cultured; DNA; Complementary; analysis; DNA; Viral; analysis; HIV-1; physiology; Humans; Lentivirus; physiology; Macrophage Activation; Macrophages; drug effects; immunology; virology; Primates; virology; Proviruses; isolation & purification; Receptors; IgG; agonists; genetics; Virus Replication; HIV-1; macrophages; Fc Receptors; ell Activation; Lentiviruses
The heterodimer Ku70/80 Ku is the DNA-binding component of the DNA-PK complex required for the nonhomologous end-joining pathway. It participates in numerous nuclear processes, including telomere and chromatin structure maintenance, replication, and transcription. Ku interacts with retroviral preintegration complexes and is thought to interfere with the retroviral replication cycle, in particular the formation of 2-long terminal repeat (LTR) viral DNA circles, viral DNA integration, and transcription. We describe here the effect of Ku80 on both provirus integration and the resulting transgene expression in cells transduced with retroviral vectors. We found that transgene expression was systematically higher in Ku80-deficient xrs6 cells than in Ku80-expressing CHO cells. This higher expression was observed irrespective of the presence of the viral LTR and was also not related to the nature of the promoter. Real-time PCR monitoring of the early viral replicative steps demonstrated that the absence of Ku80 does not affect the efficiency of transduction. We analyzed the transgene distributions localization in nucleus by applying a three-dimensional reconstruction model to two-dimensional fluorescence in situ hybridization images. This indicated that the presence of Ku80 resulted in a bias toward the transgenes being located at the periphery of the nucleus associated with their being repressed; in the absence of this factor the transgenes tend to be randomly distributed and actively expressed. Therefore, although not strictly required for retroviral integration, Ku may be involved in targeting retroviral elements to chromatin domains prone to gene silencing.
HIV-1 integrase (IN) catalyses the retroviral integration process, removing two nucleotides from each long terminal repeat and inserting the processed viral DNA into the target DNA. It is widely assumed that the strand transfer step has no sequence specificity. However, recently, it has been reported by several groups that integration sites display a preference for palindromic sequences, suggesting that a symmetry in the target DNA may stabilise the tetrameric organisation of IN in the synaptic complex.
We assessed the ability of several palindrome-containing sequences to organise tetrameric IN and investigated the ability of IN to catalyse DNA cleavage at internal positions. Only one palindromic sequence was successfully cleaved by IN. Interestingly, this symmetrical sequence corresponded to the 2-LTR junction of retroviral DNA circles—a palindrome similar but not identical to the consensus sequence found at integration sites. This reaction depended strictly on the cognate retroviral sequence of IN and required a full-length wild-type IN. Furthermore, the oligomeric state of IN responsible for this cleavage differed from that involved in the 3′-processing reaction. Palindromic cleavage strictly required the tetrameric form, whereas 3′-processing was efficiently catalysed by a dimer.
Our findings suggest that the restriction-like cleavage of palindromic sequences may be a general physiological activity of retroviral INs and that IN tetramerisation is strongly favoured by DNA symmetry, either at the target site for the concerted integration or when the DNA contains the 2-LTR junction in the case of the palindromic internal cleavage.
Human immunodeficiency virus type I reverse transcriptase (RT) possesses distinct DNA polymerase and RNase H sites, whereas integrase (IN) uses the same active site to perform 3′-end processing and strand transfer of the proviral DNA. These four enzymatic activities are essential for viral replication and require metal ions. Two Mg2+ ions are present in the RT polymerase site, and one or two Mg2+ ions are required for the catalytic activities of RNase H and IN. We tested the possibility of inhibition of the RT polymerase and RNase H as well as the IN 3′-end processing and transfer activities of purified enzymes by a series of 3,7-dihydroxytropolones designed to target two Mg2+ ions separated by ∼3.7 Å. The RT polymerase and IN 3′ processing and strand transfer activities were inhibited at submicromolar concentrations, while the RNase H activity was inhibited in the low micromolar range. In all cases, the lack of inhibition by tropolones and O-methylated 3,7-dihydroxytropolones was consistent with the active molecules binding the metal ions in the active site. In addition, inhibition of the DNA polymerase activity was shown to depend on the Mg2+ concentration. Furthermore, selective inhibitors were identified for several of the activities tested, leaving some potential for design of improved inhibitors. However, all tested compounds exhibited cellular toxicity that presently limits their applications.
Retroviral integration is central to viral persistence and pathogenesis, cancer as well as host genome evolution. However, it is unclear why integration appears essential for retrovirus production, especially given the abundance and transcriptional potential of non-integrated viral genomes. The involvement of retroviral endonuclease, also called integrase (IN), in replication steps apart from integration has been proposed, but is usually considered to be accessory. We observe here that integration of a retrovirus from the spumavirus family depends mainly on the quantity of viral DNA produced. Moreover, we found that IN directly participates to linear DNA production from 2-LTR circles by specifically cleaving the conserved palindromic sequence found at LTR-LTR junctions. These results challenge the prevailing view that integrase essential function is to catalyze retroviral DNA integration. Integrase activity upstream of this step, by controlling linear DNA production, is sufficient to explain the absolute requirement for this enzyme.
The novel role of IN over 2-LTR circle junctions accounts for the pleiotropic effects observed in cells infected with IN mutants. It may explain why 1) 2-LTR circles accumulate in vivo in mutants carrying a defective IN while their linear and integrated DNA pools decrease; 2) why both LTRs are processed in a concerted manner. It also resolves the original puzzle concerning the integration of spumaretroviruses. More generally, it suggests to reassess 2-LTR circles as functional intermediates in the retrovirus cycle and to reconsider the idea that formation of the integrated provirus is an essential step of retrovirus production.
spumaretrovirus; integrase substrate; palindrome at LTR-LTR junctions; 2-LTR circles DNA
We have previously shown that styrylquinolines (SQLs) are integrase inhibitors in vitro. They compete with the long terminal repeat substrate for integrase. Here, we describe the cellular mode of action of these molecules. We show that SQLs do not interfere with virus entry. In fact, concentrations of up to 20 times the 50% inhibitory concentration did not inhibit cell-to-cell fusion or affect the interaction between GP120 and CD4 in vitro. Moreover, the pseudotype of the retrovirus envelope did not affect drug activity. Quantitative reverse transcription PCR experiments showed that SQLs do not inhibit the entry of the genomic RNA. In contrast, the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus type 1-infected cells with SQLs reduced the amount of the late cDNA, suggesting for the first time that integrase targeting molecules may affect the accumulation of DNA during reverse transcription. The cellular target of SQLs was confirmed by the appearance of mutations in the integrase gene when viruses were grown in the presence of increasing concentrations of SQLs. Finally, these mutations led to SQL-resistant viruses when introduced into the wild-type sequence. In contrast, SQLs were fully active against reverse transcriptase inhibitor- and diketo acid-resistant viruses, positioning SQLs as a second group of anti-integrase compounds.
Human EED, a member of the superfamily of WD-40 repeat proteins and of the Polycomb group proteins, has been identified as a cellular partner of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) matrix (MA) protein (R. Peytavi et al., J. Biol. Chem. 274:1635-1645, 1999). In the present study, EED was found to interact with HIV-1 integrase (IN) both in vitro and in vivo in yeast. In vitro, data from mutagenesis studies, pull-down assays, and phage biopanning suggested that EED-binding site(s) are located in the C-terminal domain of IN, between residues 212 and 264. In EED, two putative discrete IN-binding sites were mapped to its N-terminal moiety, at a distance from the MA-binding site, but EED-IN interaction also required the integrity of the EED last two WD repeats. EED showed an apparent positive effect on IN-mediated DNA integration reaction in vitro, in a dose-dependent manner. In situ analysis by immunoelectron microscopy (IEM) of cellular distribution of IN and EED in HIV-1-infected cells (HeLa CD4+ cells or MT4 lymphoid cells) showed that IN and EED colocalized in the nucleus and near nuclear pores, with maximum colocalization events occurring at 6 h postinfection (p.i.). Triple colocalizations of IN, EED, and MA were also observed in the nucleoplasm of infected cells at 6 h p.i., suggesting the ocurrence of multiprotein complexes involving these three proteins at early steps of the HIV-1 virus life cycle. Such IEM patterns were not observed with a noninfectious, envelope deletion mutant of HIV-1.
Viral integrase (IN) and Vpr are both components of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) pre-integration complex. To investigate whether these proteins interact within this complex, we investigated the effects of Vpr and its subdomains on IN activity in vitro. When a 21mer oligonucleotide was used as a donor and acceptor, both Vpr and its C-terminal DNA-binding domain [(52–96)Vpr] inhibited the integration reaction, whereas the (1–51)Vpr domain did not affect IN activity. Steady-state fluorescence anisotropy showed that both full-length and (52–96)Vpr bind to the short oligonucleotide, thereby extending previous observations with long DNA. The concentrations of the two proteins required to inhibit IN activity were consistent with their affinities for the oligonucleotide. The use of a 492 bp mini-viral substrate confirmed that Vpr can inhibit the IN-mediated reaction. However, the activity of (52–96)Vpr differed notably since it stimulated specifically integration events involving two homologous mini-viral DNAs. Order of addition experiments indicated that the stimulation was maximal when IN, (50–96)Vpr and the mini-viral DNA were allowed to form a complex. Furthermore, in the presence of (50–96)Vpr, the binding of IN to the mini-viral DNA was dramatically enhanced. Taken together, these data suggest that (52–96)Vpr stimulates the formation of a specific complex between IN and the mini-viral DNA.
The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 integrase (IN) forms an oligomer that integrates both ends of the viral DNA. The nature of the active oligomer is unclear. Recombinant IN obtained under reducing conditions is always in the form of noncovalent oligomers. However, disulfide-linked oligomers of IN were recently observed within viral particles. We show that IN produced from a baculovirus expression system can form disulfide-linked oligomers. We investigated which residues are responsible for the disulfide bridges and the relationship between the ability to form covalent dimers and IN activity. Only the mutation of residue C280 was sufficient to prevent the formation of intermolecular disulfide bridges in oligomers of recombinant IN. IN activity was studied under and versus nonreducing conditions: the formation of disulfide bridges was not required for the in vitro activities of the enzyme. Moreover, the covalent dimer does not dissociate into individual protomers on disulfide bridge reduction. Instead, IN undergoes a spontaneous multimerization process that yields a homogenous noncovalent tetramer. The C280S mutation also completely abolished the formation of disulfide bonds in the context of the viral particle. Finally, the replication of the mutant virus was investigated in replicating and arrested cells. The infectivity of the virus was not affected by the C280S IN mutation in either dividing or nondividing cells. The disulfide-linked form of the IN oligomers observed in the viral particles is thus not required for viral replication.