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TY3 GAG3 protein forms ordered particles in Escherichia coli


The yeast retrovirus-like element Ty3 GAG3 gene encodes a Gag3 polyprotein analogous to retroviral Gag. Gag3 lacks matrix, but contains capsid, spacer, and nucleocapsid domains. Expression of a Ty3 Gag3 or capsid domain optimized for expression in Escherichia coli was sufficient for Ty3 particle assembly. Virus-like ordered particles assembled from Gag3 were similar in size to immature particles from yeast and contained nucleic acid. However, particles assembled from the CA domain were variable in size and displayed much less organization than native particles. These results indicate that assembly can be driven through interactions among capsid subunits in the particle, but that the nucleocapsid domain, likely in association with RNA, confers order upon this process.

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