A Highly Active Isoform of Lentivirus Restriction Factor SAMHD1 in Mouse

J Biol Chem. 2017 Jan 20;292(3):1068-1080. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M116.743740. Epub 2016 Dec 5.


The triphosphohydrolase SAMHD1 (sterile α motif and histidine-aspartate domain-containing protein 1) restricts HIV-1 replication in nondividing myeloid cells by depleting the dNTP pool, preventing reverse transcription. SAMHD1 is also reported to have ribonuclease activity that degrades the virus genomic RNA. Human SAMHD1 is regulated by phosphorylation of its carboxyl terminus at Thr-592, which abrogates its antiviral function yet has only a small effect on its phosphohydrolase activity. In the mouse, SAMHD1 is expressed as two isoforms (ISF1 and ISF2) that differ at the carboxyl terminus due to alternative splicing of the last coding exon. In this study we characterized the biochemical and antiviral properties of the two mouse isoforms of SAMHD1. Both are antiviral in nondividing cells. Mass spectrometry analysis showed that SAMHD1 is phosphorylated at several amino acid residues, one of which (Thr-634) is homologous to Thr-592. Phosphomimetic mutation at Thr-634 of ISF1 ablates its antiviral activity yet has little effect on phosphohydrolase activity in vitro dGTP caused ISF1 to tetramerize, activating its catalytic activity. In contrast, ISF2, which lacks the phosphorylation site, was significantly more active, tetramerized, and was active without added dGTP. Neither isoform nor human SAMHD1 had detectable RNase activity in vitro or affected HIV-1 genomic RNA stability in newly infected cells. These data support a model in which SAMHD1 catalytic activity is regulated through tetramer stabilization by the carboxyl-terminal tail, phosphorylation destabilizing the complexes and inactivating the enzyme. ISF2 may serve to reduce the dNTP pool to very low levels as a means of restricting virus replication.

Keywords: RNA degradation; SAM domain and HD domain-containing protein 1 (SAMHD1); dGTP; dNTP; human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); hydrolase; phosphorylation; restriction factor; reverse transcription.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amino Acid Substitution
  • Animals
  • HIV Infections / enzymology*
  • HIV Infections / genetics
  • HIV-1 / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Isoenzymes / chemistry
  • Isoenzymes / genetics
  • Isoenzymes / metabolism
  • Mice
  • Models, Molecular
  • Monomeric GTP-Binding Proteins / chemistry
  • Monomeric GTP-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Monomeric GTP-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Phosphorylation
  • Protein Multimerization*
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • RNA, Viral / metabolism*
  • SAM Domain and HD Domain-Containing Protein 1
  • U937 Cells
  • Virus Replication / physiology*


  • Isoenzymes
  • RNA, Viral
  • SAM Domain and HD Domain-Containing Protein 1
  • Samhd1 protein, mouse
  • Monomeric GTP-Binding Proteins