The cellular protein cyclophilin A (CypA) binds specifically to the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) capsid (CA) protein and is incorporated into HIV-1 particles at a molar ratio of 1:10 (CypA/CA). Structural analysis of a CA-CypA complex suggested that CypA may destabilize interactions in the viral capsid and thus promote uncoating. We analyzed the influence of CypA on the in vitro assembly properties of wild-type (WT) CA and derivatives containing substitutions of Gly89 in the Cyp-binding loop. All variant proteins were significantly impaired in CypA binding. In the presence of CypA at a molar ratio of 1:10 (CypA/CA), WT CA assembled into hollow cylinders that were similar to those observed in the absence of CypA but slightly longer. Higher CypA concentrations inhibited cylinder formation. Variant CA proteins G89L and G89F yielded similar cylinders as the WT protein but were significantly more resistant to CypA. Cryoelectron microscopic analysis of WT cylinders assembled in the presence of CypA revealed direct binding of CypA to the outer surface. Electron diffraction patterns generated from these cylinders indicated that CypA causes local disorder. The addition of CypA to preassembled cylinders had little effect, however, and cylinders were only disrupted when incubated with a threefold molar excess of CypA for several hours. These results suggest that CypA does not efficiently destabilize CA interactions at the molar ratio observed in the virion and therefore is unlikely to serve as an uncoating factor.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.