Live-cell coimaging of the genomic RNAs and Gag proteins of two lentiviruses

Iris Kemler, Anne Meehan, Eric M. Poeschla

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Gag and genomic RNA determinants required for encapsidation are well established, but where and when encapsidation occurs in the cell is unknown. We constructed MS2 phage coat protein labeling systems to track spatial dynamics of primate and nonprimate lentiviral genomic RNAs (HIV-1 and feline immunodeficiency virus [FIV]) vis-à-vis their Gag proteins in live cells. Genomic RNAs of both lentiviral genera were observed to traffic into the cytoplasm, and this was Rev dependent. In transit, FIV Gag and genomic RNA accumulated independently of each other at the nuclear envelope, and focal colocalizations of genomic RNA with an intact packaging signal (Ψ) and Gag were observed to extend outward from the cytoplasmic face. In contrast, although HIV-1 genomic RNA was detected at the nuclear envelope, HIV-1 Gag was not. For both lentiviruses, genomic RNAs were seen at the plasma membrane if and only if Gag was present and Ψ was intact. In addition, HIV-1 and FIV genomes accumulated with Gag in late endosomal foci, again, only Ψ dependently. Thus, lentiviral genomic RNAs require specific Gag binding to accumulate at the plasma membrane, packaged genomes cointernalize with Gag into the endosomal pathway, and plasma membrane RNA incorporation by Gag does not trigger committed lentiviral particle egress from the cell. Based on the FIV results, we hypothesize that the Gag-genome association may initiate at the nuclear envelope.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6352-6366
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number13
StatePublished - Jul 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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