Specific packaging of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) RNA is attributable to the high affinity of nucleocapsid (NC) sequence of Gag for the cis-acting RNA packaging signals located within the 5′ un-translated region (5′ UTR). Interestingly, we have previously reported that the T12I mutation (named MP2) within SP1 of Gag prevented incorporation of spliced viral RNA into mutated viruses that lacked the stem-loop 1 (SL1) RNA element (also named dimerization initiation site, DIS), suggesting a role for the SP1 sequence in viral RNA packaging. In this study, we have further tested this activity of MP2 in the context of a variety of mutations that affect viral RNA incorporation. The results showed that MP2 was able to effectively restrict packaging of spliced viral RNA into viruses containing either NC mutations R10A and K11A or mutated 5′ UTR sequence, such as ΔGU3 that lacked the 112-GUCUGUUGUGUG-123 sequence of U5, D1 that was deleted of a 27 nt fragment immediately downstream of the primer binding site (PBS), Δ(306-325) that had the SL3 RNA element removed and MD2 that was missing the 328-GGAG-331 sequence. As a result, MP2 contributed increased infectivity to the related viruses. Therefore, the MP2 mutation demonstrates a distinct role in HIV-1 RNA packaging that is neither pertained to the specific viral RNA packaging signal nor to the NC sequence.
- RNA packaging