The Env protein of murine leukemia virus matures by two cleavage events. First, cellular furin separates the receptor binding surface (SU) subunit from the fusion-active transmembrane (TM) subunit and then, in the newly assembled particle, the viral protease removes a 16-residue peptide, the R-peptide from the endodomain of the TM. Both cleavage events are required to prime the Env for receptor-triggered activation. Cryoelectron microscopy (cryo-EM) analyses have shown that the mature Env forms an open cage-like structure composed of three SU-TM complexes, where the TM subunits formed separated Env legs. Here we have studied the structure of the R-peptide precursor Env by cryo-EM. TM cleavage in Moloney murine leukemia virus was inhibited by amprenavir, and the Envs were solubilized in Triton X-100 and isolated by sedimentation in a sucrose gradient. We found that the legs of the R-peptide Env were held together by trimeric interactions at the very bottom of the Env. This suggested that the R-peptide ties the TM legs together and that this prevents the activation of the TM for fusion. The model was supported by further cryo-EM studies using an R-peptide Env mutant that was fusion-competent despite an uncleaved R-peptide. The Env legs of this mutant were found to be separated, like in the mature Env. This shows that it is the TM leg separation, normally caused by R-peptide cleavage, that primes the Env for receptor triggering.
|Number of pages||6|
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|Publication status||Published - 2012 May 15|
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