Retroviral Gag protein-RNA interactions: Implications for specific genomic RNA packaging and virion assembly.


Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, Center for RNA Biology, and Center for Retrovirus Research, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, 43210, USA. Electronic address: [Email]


Retroviral Gag proteins are responsible for coordinating many aspects of virion assembly. Gag possesses two distinct nucleic acid binding domains, matrix (MA) and nucleocapsid (NC). One of the critical functions of Gag is to specifically recognize, bind, and package the retroviral genomic RNA (gRNA) into assembling virions. Gag interactions with cellular RNAs have also been shown to regulate aspects of assembly. Recent results have shed light on the role of MA and NC domain interactions with nucleic acids, and how they jointly function to ensure packaging of the retroviral gRNA. Here, we will review the literature regarding RNA interactions with NC, MA, as well as overall mechanisms employed by Gag to interact with RNA. The discussion focuses on human immunodeficiency virus type-1, but other retroviruses will also be discussed. A model is presented combining all of the available data summarizing the various factors and layers of selection Gag employs to ensure specific gRNA packaging and correct virion assembly.


Assembly,Gag,RNA,Retroviruses,gRNA packaging,

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