Analysis of the N-terminal region of the murine leukemia virus nucleocapsid protein

Amelia Still, Douglas Huseby, Eric Barklis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Lentiviruses such as the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) and alpharetroviruses such as Rous Sarcoma virus encode an element that spans the precursor Gag (PrGag) protein capsid (CA) C-terminus, a spacer peptide (SP), and the N-terminus of nucleocapsid (NC). Perturbation of this element causes the assembly of aberrant, non-infectious virus particles. To determine whether this element is conserved in gammaretroviruses such as the Moloney murine leukemia virus (MLV), we examined the effects of insertion mutations in the N-terminal portion of the MLV NC coding region. Interestingly, we found that insertions of as many as twenty residues after the twelfth residue of MLV NC yielded proteins that directed the efficient assembly of virus particles. Virus morphologies and crosslink profiles appeared normal, and assembled viruses retained significant levels of infectivity in single cycle infection assays. Two variants were examined in the context of replicating virus constructs, and the mutations were found to be maintained during multiple rounds of infection in a cell culture system. These results suggest that the alpharetrovirus and lentivirus assembly elements either are not needed for gammaretroviruses, or are replaced by an alternative assembly element. Our results also indicate that the N-terminal region of MLV NC is amenable to genetic manipulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-188
Number of pages8
JournalVirus Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011


  • Gag
  • Murine leukemia virus
  • Nucleocapsid
  • Retrovirus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cancer Research
  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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