Identification of Capsid Mutations That Alter the Rate of HIV-1 Uncoating in Infected Cells


After viral fusion with the cell membrane, the conical capsid of HIV-1 disassembles by a process called uncoating. We recently utilized the cyclosporine (CsA) washout assay, in which TRIM-CypA-mediated restriction of viral replication is used to detect the state of the viral capsid, to study the kinetics of uncoating in HIV-1-infected cells. Here we have extended this analysis to examine the effects of p24 capsid protein (p24CA) mutations and cellular environment on the kinetics of uncoating in infected cells. We found that p24CA mutations can significantly increase (A92E), delay (E45A and N74D), or have no effect (G94D) on the rate of uncoating and that these alterations are not due to changes in reverse transcription. Inhibition of reverse transcription delayed uncoating kinetics to an extent similar to that of the wild-type virus with all the p24CA mutant viruses tested. In addition, we observed differences in uncoating in two cell lines, which suggests that the cellular environment can differentially impact the disassembly of wild-type and mutant capsids. Collectively, these experiments suggest that viral and cellular factors are important for the process of uncoating. Finally, these data support the model whereby early steps in reverse transcription facilitate HIV-1 uncoating.

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Journal of virology