Strain and rupture of HIV-1 capsids during uncoating

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022 Mar 8;119(10):e2117781119. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2117781119. Epub 2022 Mar 1.


SignificanceThe mature capsids of HIV-1 are transiently stable complexes that self-assemble around the viral genome during maturation, and uncoat to release preintegration complexes that archive a double-stranded DNA copy of the virus in the host cell genome. However, a detailed view of how HIV cores rupture remains lacking. Here, we elucidate the physical properties involved in capsid rupture using a combination of large-scale all-atom molecular dynamics simulations and cryo-electron tomography. We find that intrinsic strain on the capsid forms highly correlated patterns along the capsid surface, along which cracks propagate. Capsid rigidity also increases with high strain. Our findings provide fundamental insight into viral capsid uncoating.

Keywords: HIV capsid; all-atom molecular dynamics; strain; uncoating.

MeSH terms

  • Capsid / chemistry
  • Capsid / physiology*
  • Capsid Proteins / chemistry
  • Cell Line
  • Electron Microscope Tomography / methods
  • HIV-1 / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Molecular Dynamics Simulation
  • Protein Conformation
  • Virus Uncoating*


  • Capsid Proteins