The cytoplasmic domain (CD) of the SIVmac transmembrane protein (TM) can affect viral infectivity by modulating several Env functions, notably fusogenic capacity and incorporation into virions. In addition, envelopes with a truncated CD are counterselected in primary cells in culture and in vivo in rhesus macaques, suggesting a role for this domain in vital persistence. Here, we have used mutagenesis to examine specific features of the SIVmac TM CD, including the conserved C-terminal α helix and the overall length of the CD. Several mutations dramatically reduced and/or delayed virus infectivity in lymphoid cell lines. Detailed analysis of mutants revealed defects in envelope stability, fusogenic capacity, and virion incorporation. The primary defect associated with an envelope containing a 64-residue CD was rapid degradation. A mutant Env lacking the C-terminal α helix but encoding an exceptionally long CD (373 residues) was highly fusogenic but inefficiently incorporated into virions. A third mutant, containing amino acid substitutions designed to alter the charge density of the C-terminal helix, retained cytopathic properties and showed enhanced fusogenic capacity but replicated with delayed kinetics. Taken together, these results demonstrate that CD sequence variation entails functional 'tradeoffs' that can involve optimization of certain Env functions at the expense of others.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Number of pages||11|
|Journal||AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses|
|State||Published - Mar 20 1998|
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