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Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Virus-producing cells determine the host protein profiles of HIV-1 virion cores

Steven Santos1, Yuri Obukhov23, Sergei Nekhai23, Michael Bukrinsky1 and Sergey Iordanskiy1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Tropical Medicine, George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, 2300 I Street NW, Ross Hall, Washington, DC, 20037, USA

2 Department of Medicine, Center for Sickle Cell Disease, Howard University College of Medicine, 1840 7th Street, N.W, Washington, DC, 20001, USA

3 Howard University College of Medicine, RCMI Proteomics Core Facility, 1840 7th Street, N.W, Washington, DC, 20001, USA

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Retrovirology 2012, 9:65  doi:10.1186/1742-4690-9-65

Published: 13 August 2012

Abstract

Background

Upon HIV entry into target cells, viral cores are released and rearranged into reverse transcription complexes (RTCs), which support reverse transcription and also protect and transport viral cDNA to the site of integration. RTCs are composed of viral and cellular proteins that originate from both target and producer cells, the latter entering the target cell within the viral core. However, the proteome of HIV-1 viral cores in the context of the type of producer cells has not yet been characterized.

Results

We examined the proteomic profiles of the cores purified from HIV-1 NL4-3 virions assembled in Sup-T1 cells (T lymphocytes), PMA and vitamin D3 activated THP1 (model of macrophages, mMΦ), and non-activated THP1 cells (model of monocytes, mMN) and assessed potential involvement of identified proteins in the early stages of infection using gene ontology information and data from genome-wide screens on proteins important for HIV-1 replication. We identified 202 cellular proteins incorporated in the viral cores (T cells: 125, mMΦ: 110, mMN: 90) with the overlap between these sets limited to 42 proteins. The groups of RNA binding (29), DNA binding (17), cytoskeleton (15), cytoskeleton regulation (21), chaperone (18), vesicular trafficking-associated (12) and ubiquitin-proteasome pathway-associated proteins (9) were most numerous. Cores of the virions from SupT1 cells contained twice as many RNA binding proteins as cores of THP1-derived virus, whereas cores of virions from mMΦ and mMN were enriched in components of cytoskeleton and vesicular transport machinery, most probably due to differences in virion assembly pathways between these cells. Spectra of chaperones, cytoskeletal proteins and ubiquitin-proteasome pathway components were similar between viral cores from different cell types, whereas DNA-binding and especially RNA-binding proteins were highly diverse. Western blot analysis showed that within the group of overlapping proteins, the level of incorporation of some RNA binding (RHA and HELIC2) and DNA binding proteins (MCM5 and Ku80) in the viral cores from T cells was higher than in the cores from both mMΦ and mMN and did not correlate with the abundance of these proteins in virus producing cells.

Conclusions

Profiles of host proteins packaged in the cores of HIV-1 virions depend on the type of virus producing cell. The pool of proteins present in the cores of all virions is likely to contain factors important for viral functions. Incorporation ratio of certain RNA- and DNA-binding proteins suggests their more efficient, non-random packaging into virions in T cells than in mMΦ and mMN.