Cytoplasmic domain truncation enhances fusion activity by the exterior glycoprotein complex of human immunodeficiency virus type 2 in selected cell types.
To investigate the glycoprotein determinants of viral cytopathology, we constructed chimeric env genes between a noncytopathic strain of human immunodeficiency virus type 2 (HIV-2), designated HIV-2/ST, and a highly fusogenic and cytopathic variant derived from this virus. Expression of the resulting chimeric glycoproteins indicated that efficient syncytium formation in the human T-cell line Sup T1 mapped to the C-terminal region of the transmembrane (TM) glycoprotein subunit. In this region, the wild-type and cytopathic ST glycoproteins differed by only four amino acids and by the presence of a premature termination codon in the cytopathic variant. Subsequent site-directed mutagenesis indicated that the cytoplasmic domain truncation was responsible for the enhanced fusion activity. This modification, however, increased the fusion activity of the glycoprotein only in Sup T1 cells (in which the ST variant arose) but not in Molt 4 clone 8 or peripheral blood mononuclear cells. These observations indicate that the length of the cytoplasmic domain of the HIV-2 glycoprotein modulates the fusion activity of the exterior glycoprotein complex in a cell-specific manner. Such adaptability appears to permit the emergence of fusogenic variants during HIV-2 passage in vitro and may also regulate viral growth or cytopathic effects in selected cell types during natural infection in vivo.
Mulligan, MJ; Yamshchikov, GV; Ritter, GD; Gao, F; Jin, MJ; Nail, CD; Spies, CP; Hahn, BH; Compans, RW
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