Analysis of HIV-1 matrix-envelope cytoplasmic tail interactions

Ayna Alfadhli, August O. Staubus, Philip R. Tedbury, Mariia Novikova, Eric O. Freed, Eric Barklis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The matrix (MA) domains of HIV-1 precursor Gag (PrGag) proteins direct PrGag proteins to plasma membrane (PM) assembly sites where envelope (Env) protein trimers are incorporated into virus particles. MA targeting to PM sites is facilitated by its binding to phosphatidylinositol-(4,5)-bisphosphate [PI(4,5)P2], and MA binding to cellular RNAs appears to serve a chaperone function that prevents MA from associating with intracellular membranes prior to arrival at the PI(4,5)P2-rich PM. Investigations have shown genetic evidence of an interaction between MA and the cytoplasmic tails (CTs) of Env trimers that contributes to Env incorporation into virions, but demonstrations of direct MA-CT interactions have proven more difficult. In direct binding assays, we show here that MA binds to Env CTs. Using MA mutants, matrix-capsid (MACA) proteins, and MA proteins incubated in the presence of inositol polyphosphate, we show a correlation between MA trimerization and CT binding. RNA ligands with high affinities for MA reduced MA-CT binding levels, suggesting that MA-RNA binding interferes with trimerization and/or directly or indirectly blocks MA-CT binding. Rough-mapping studies indicate that C-terminal CT helices are involved in MA binding and are in agreement with cell culture studies with replication-competent viruses. Our results support a model in which full-length HIV-1 Env trimers are captured in assembling PrGag lattices by virtue of their binding to MA trimers. IMPORTANCE The mechanism by which HIV-1 envelope (Env) protein trimers assemble into virus particles is poorly understood but involves an interaction between Env cytoplasmic tails (CTs) and the matrix (MA) domain of the structural precursor Gag (PrGag) proteins. We show here that direct binding of MA to Env CTs correlates with MA trimerization, suggesting models where MA lattices regulate CT interactions and/or MA-CT trimer-trimer associations increase the avidity of MA-CT binding. We also show that MA binding to RNA ligands impairs MA-CT binding, potentially by interfering with MA trimerization and/or directly or allosterically blocking MA-CT binding sites. Rough mapping implicated CT C-terminal helices in MA binding, in agreement with cell culture studies on MA-CT interactions. Our results indicate that targeting HIV-1 MA-CT interactions may be a promising avenue for antiviral therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere01079-19
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number21
StatePublished - 2019


  • Human immunodeficiency virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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