Tetherin (BST-2/CD317) is an interferon-inducible antiviral protein that restricts the release of enveloped viruses from infected cells. The HIV-1 accessory protein Vpu can efficiently antagonize this restriction. In this study, we analyzed mutations of the transmembrane (TM) domain of Vpu, including deletions and substitutions, to delineate amino acids important for HIV-1 viral particle release and in interactions with tetherin. The mutants had similar subcellular localization patterns with that of wild-type Vpu and were functional with respect to CD4 downregulation. We showed that the hydrophobic binding surface for tetherin lies in the core of the Vpu TM domain. Three consecutive hydrophobic isoleucine residues in the middle region of the Vpu TM domain, I15, I16 and I17, were important for stabilizing the tetherin binding interface and determining its sensitivity to tetherin. Changing the polarity of the amino acids at these positions resulted in severe impairment of Vpu-induced tetherin targeting and antagonism. Taken together, these data reveal a model of specific hydrophobic interactions between Vpu and tetherin, which can be potentially targeted in the development of novel anti-HIV-1 drugs.
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Date Published: 2-June-2011
Author(s): Lv M., Wang J., Wang X., Zuo T., Zhu Y., Kong W., Yu X.