Identification of protein intermediates in the processing of the p55 HIV-1 gag precursor in cells infected with recombinant vaccinia virus

J Biol Chem. 1989 May 25;264(15):8459-62.


We have used a recombinant vaccinia virus (VV) which expresses high levels of human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) gag proteins to analyze the processing pathway of the gag p55 precursor. HIV-1 gag proteins were isolated from [3H]leucine-labeled VV:gag-infected H9 T lymphocytes by immunoprecipitation with either anti-p24, anti-p17, or anti-p6 antibodies. Sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis analysis revealed that processing of the p55 precursor involves three major intermediates (p41a, p41b, and p39). The p41a and p39 proteins contain the p17 and p24 protein segments, and the p41b is comprised of p24 and p15 segments. On two-dimensional gels, each intermediate as well as the mature p24 and p17 proteins migrated as distinct species. [3H]Myristic acid labeling of the HIV-1 gag proteins revealed that in addition to p55 and p17, the p41a and p39 intermediates, but not p41b, are myristylated, confirming that myristylation occurs at the NH2 terminus before cleavage of the p55 precursor protein. We conclude that the myristylated HIV-1 gag p55 precursor is initially cleaved at random either at the p17/p24 junction or at two sites between p24 and p15 proteins, resulting in three intermediates (p41a, p41b, and p39) which are subsequently cleaved to yield mature gag proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Viral / genetics*
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Transformation, Viral*
  • Gene Products, gag
  • HIV-1 / genetics*
  • HIV-1 / metabolism
  • Protein Precursors / biosynthesis
  • Protein Precursors / genetics*
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Retroviridae Proteins / biosynthesis
  • Retroviridae Proteins / genetics*
  • Vaccinia virus / genetics*


  • Antigens, Viral
  • Gene Products, gag
  • Protein Precursors
  • Retroviridae Proteins
  • p55 gag precursor protein, Human immunodeficiency virus 1