Integrase-RNA interactions underscore the critical role of integrase in HIV-1 virion morphogenesis

Elife. 2020 Sep 22:9:e54311. doi: 10.7554/eLife.54311.


A large number of human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) integrase (IN) alterations, referred to as class II substitutions, exhibit pleiotropic effects during virus replication. However, the underlying mechanism for the class II phenotype is not known. Here we demonstrate that all tested class II IN substitutions compromised IN-RNA binding in virions by one of the three distinct mechanisms: (i) markedly reducing IN levels thus precluding the formation of IN complexes with viral RNA; (ii) adversely affecting functional IN multimerization and consequently impairing IN binding to viral RNA; and (iii) directly compromising IN-RNA interactions without substantially affecting IN levels or functional IN multimerization. Inhibition of IN-RNA interactions resulted in the mislocalization of viral ribonucleoprotein complexes outside the capsid lattice, which led to premature degradation of the viral genome and IN in target cells. Collectively, our studies uncover causal mechanisms for the class II phenotype and highlight an essential role of IN-RNA interactions for accurate virion maturation.

Keywords: HIV-1; Integrase; Integrase-RNA interactions; human; infectious disease; maturation; microbiology; virus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Capsid / metabolism
  • Genome, Viral / genetics*
  • HEK293 Cells
  • HIV Infections / virology*
  • HIV Integrase / genetics
  • HIV Integrase / metabolism*
  • HIV-1 / enzymology*
  • HIV-1 / genetics
  • HIV-1 / growth & development
  • HIV-1 / physiology
  • Humans
  • Phenotype
  • Protein Binding
  • Protein Multimerization
  • RNA, Viral / metabolism*
  • Ribonucleoproteins / metabolism
  • Virion / enzymology*
  • Virion / genetics
  • Virion / growth & development
  • Virion / physiology
  • Virus Integration
  • Virus Replication*


  • RNA, Viral
  • Ribonucleoproteins
  • HIV Integrase
  • p31 integrase protein, Human immunodeficiency virus 1