Journal of virology

Functional role of residues corresponding to helical domain II (amino acids 35 to 46) of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 Vpr.

PMID 11044109


Vpr, encoded by the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 genome, contains 96 amino acids and is a multifunctional protein with features which include cell cycle arrest at G(2), nuclear localization, participation in transport of the preintegration complex, cation channel activity, oligomerization, and interaction with cellular proteins, in addition to its incorporation into the virus particles. Recently, structural studies based on nuclear magnetic resonance and circular dichroism spectroscopy showed that Vpr contains a helix (HI)-turn-helix (HII) core at the amino terminus and an amphipathic helix (HIII) in the middle region. Though the importance of helical domains HI and HIII has been defined with respect to Vpr functions, the role of helical domain HII is not known. To address this issue, we constructed a series of mutants in which the HII domain was altered by deletion, insertion, and/or substitution mutagenesis. To enable the detection of Vpr, the sequence corresponding to the Flag epitope (DYKDDDDK) was added, in frame, to the Vpr coding sequences. Mutants, expressed through the in vitro transcription/translation system and in cells, showed an altered migration corresponding to deletions in Vpr. Substitution mutational analysis of residues in HII showed reduced stability for VprW38S-FL, VprL42G-FL, and VprH45W-FL. An assay involving cotransfection of NLDeltaVpr proviral DNA and a Vpr expression plasmid was employed to analyze the virion incorporation property of Vpr. Mutant Vpr containing deletions and specific substitutions (VprW38S-FL, VprL39G-FL, VprL42G-FL, VprG43P-FL, and VprI46G-FL) exhibited a negative virion incorporation phenotype. Further, mutant Vpr-FL containing deletions also failed to associate with wild-type Vpr, indicating a possible defect in the oligomerization feature of Vpr. Subcellular localization studies indicated that mutants VprDelta35-50-H-FL, VprR36W-FL, VprL39G-FL, and VprI46G-FL exhibited both cytoplasmic and nuclear localization, unlike other mutants and control Vpr-FL. While wild-type Vpr registered cell cycle arrest at G(2), mutant Vpr showed an intermediary effect with the exception of VprDelta35-50 and VprDelta35-50-H. These results suggest that residues in the HII domain are essential for Vpr functions.