A stable immature lattice packages IP6 for HIV capsid maturation

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Science Advances  10 Mar 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 11, eabe4716
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abe4716


HIV virion assembly begins with the construction of an immature lattice consisting of Gag hexamers. Upon virion release, protease-mediated Gag cleavage leads to a maturation event in which the immature lattice disassembles and the mature capsid assembles. The cellular metabolite inositiol hexakisphosphate (IP6) and maturation inhibitors (MIs) both bind and stabilize immature Gag hexamers, but whereas IP6 promotes virus maturation, MIs inhibit it. Here we show that HIV is evolutionarily constrained to maintain an immature lattice stability that ensures IP6 packaging without preventing maturation. Replication-deficient mutant viruses with reduced IP6 recruitment display increased infectivity upon treatment with the MI PF46396 (PF96) or the acquisition of second-site compensatory mutations. Both PF96 and second-site mutations stabilise the immature lattice and restore IP6 incorporation, suggesting that immature lattice stability and IP6 binding are interdependent. This IP6 dependence suggests that modifying MIs to compete with IP6 for Gag hexamer binding could substantially improve MI antiviral potency.

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