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The export receptor Crm1 forms a dimer to promote nuclear export of HIV RNA

  • Author(s): Booth, David S
  • Cheng, Yifan
  • Frankel, Alan D
  • et al.
Abstract

The HIV Rev protein routes viral RNAs containing the Rev Response Element (RRE) through the Crm1 nuclear export pathway to the cytoplasm where viral proteins are expressed and genomic RNA is delivered to assembling virions. The RRE assembles a Rev oligomer that displays nuclear export sequences (NESs) for recognition by the Crm1-RanGTP nuclear receptor complex. Here we provide the first view of an assembled HIV-host nuclear export complex using single-particle electron microscopy. Unexpectedly, Crm1 forms a dimer with an extensive interface that enhances association with Rev-RRE and poises NES binding sites to interact with a Rev oligomer. The interface between Crm1 monomers explains differences between Crm1 orthologs that alter nuclear export and determine cellular tropism for viral replication. The arrangement of the export complex identifies a novel binding surface to possibly target an HIV inhibitor and may point to a broader role for Crm1 dimerization in regulating host gene expression.DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.04121.001eLife digestTo be able to multiply, viruses first have to infect a host cell and then hijack the host's molecular machinery to make viral proteins. The first stage of this process takes place in the nucleus of the host cell and involves the DNA being transcribed to make RNA molecules. These RNA molecules must then be exported from the nucleus to the cytoplasm, where the proteins are made.For RNA molecules that have been transcribed from the cell's own DNA, this export process happens automatically. However, the export of viral RNA molecules requires help from the virus. In the case of HIV-1, the virus supplies a protein called Rev, which binds to a region on the viral RNA molecules called the Rev Response Element. The Rev protein then binds to a group of host proteins called the Crm1 export complex to send the viral RNA molecules to the cytoplasm. Although the 3D structures of the individual components have been worked out, it is not known how the viral RNA molecule, the Rev protein and the Crm1 proteins all fit together to make a complex.Booth et al. have used a technique called single-particle electron microscopy to produce a 3D structure of the whole complex. It shows that this complex forms with two Crm1 proteins contacting each other as they bind to the Rev protein that is already bound to the RNA molecule. It also reveals a new surface of the complex that had not been previously predicted to exist. In parallel work from the same laboratory, Jayaraman et al., 2014. have used a different technique to reveal a highly-detailed 3D structure of Rev molecules binding to the Rev Response Element.Both structures shed new light on how the HIV-1 virus is able to multiply in its host, which may aid future efforts to develop new treatments for the disease.DOI:http://dx.doi.org/10.7554/eLife.04121.002

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