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Scaffolding viral protein NC nucleates phase separation of the HIV-1 biomolecular condensate

Summary

Membraneless biomolecular condensates (BMCs) contribute to the replication of a growing number of viruses but remain to be functionally characterized. Previously, we demonstrated that pan-retroviral nucleocapsid (NC) proteins phase separated into condensates regulating virus assembly. Here we discover that intrinsically disordered human immunodeficiency virus-type 1 (HIV-1) core proteins condense with the viral genomic RNA (vRNA) to assemble as BMCs attaining a geometry characteristic of viral reverse transcription complexes. We explore the predisposition, mechanisms, and pharmacologic sensitivity of HIV-1 core BMCs in living cells. HIV-1 vRNA-interacting NC condensates were found to be scaffolds onto which client capsid, reverse transcriptase, and integrase condensates assemble. HIV-1 core BMCs exhibit fundamental characteristics of BMCs and are drug-sensitive. Lastly, protease-mediated maturation of Gag and Gag-Pol precursor proteins yield abundant and visible BMCs in cells. This study redefines HIV-1 core components as fluid BMCs and advances our understanding of the nature of viral cores during ingress.

Auteur(s) : Monette, A., & al.