A biologically active construct of the retroviral M domain from the avian Rous sarcoma virus is defined and its solution structure described. This M domain is fully active in budding and infectivity without myristylation. In spite of a sequence homology level that suggests no relationship among M domains and the family of matrix proteins in mammalian retroviruses, the conserved structural elements of a central core allow an M domain sequence motif to be described for all retroviruses. The surface of the M domain has a highly clustered positive patch comprised of sequentially distant residues. An analysis of the backbone dynamics, incorporating rotational anisotropy, is used to estimate the thermodynamics of proposed domain oligomerization.
Copyright 1998 Academic Press Limited.