UNLABELLED - Members of the APOBEC3 family of cytidine deaminases vary in their proportions of a virion-incorporated enzyme that is localized to mature retrovirus cores. We reported previously that APOBEC3F (A3F) was highly localized into mature human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) cores and identified that L306 in the C-terminal cytidine deaminase (CD) domain contributed to its core localization (C. Song, L. Sutton, M. Johnson, R. D'Aquila, J. Donahue, J Biol Chem 287:16965-16974, 2012, http://dx.doi.org/10.1074/jbc.M111.310839). We have now determined an additional genetic determinant(s) for A3F localization to HIV-1 cores. We found that one pair of leucines in each of A3F's C-terminal and N-terminal CD domains jointly determined the degree of localization of A3F into HIV-1 virion cores. These are A3F L306/L368 (C-terminal domain) and A3F L122/L184 (N-terminal domain). Alterations to one of these specific leucine residues in either of the two A3F CD domains (A3F L368A, L122A, and L184A) decreased core localization and diminished HIV restriction without changing virion packaging. Furthermore, double mutants in these leucine residues in each of A3F's two CD domains (A3F L368A plus L184A or A3F L368A plus L122A) still were packaged into virions but completely lost core localization and anti-HIV activity. HIV virion core localization of A3F is genetically separable from its virion packaging, and anti-HIV activity requires some core localization.
IMPORTANCE - Specific leucine-leucine interactions are identified as necessary for A3F's core localization and anti-HIV activity but not for its packaging into virions. Understanding these signals may lead to novel strategies to enhance core localization that may augment effects of A3F against HIV and perhaps of other A3s against retroviruses, parvoviruses, and hepatitis B virus.
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