Microbiology & Immunology Publications


Human HERC5 Restricts an Early Stage of HIV-1 Assembly by a Mechanism Correlating with the ISGylation of Gag

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BACKGROUND: The identification and characterization of several interferon (IFN)-induced cellular HIV-1 restriction factors, defined as host cellular proteins or factors that restrict or inhibit the HIV-1 life cycle, have provided insight into the IFN response towards HIV-1 infection and identified new therapeutic targets for HIV-1 infection. To further characterize the mechanism underlying restriction of the late stages of HIV-1 replication, we assessed the ability of IFNbeta-induced genes to restrict HIV-1 Gag particle production and have identified a potentially novel host factor called HECT domain and RCC1-like domain-containing protein 5 (HERC5) that blocks a unique late stage of the HIV-1 life cycle.

RESULTS: HERC5 inhibited the replication of HIV-1 over multiple rounds of infection and was found to target a late stage of HIV-1 particle production. The E3 ligase activity of HERC5 was required for blocking HIV-1 Gag particle production and correlated with the post-translational modification of Gag with ISG15. HERC5 interacted with HIV-1 Gag and did not alter trafficking of HIV-1 Gag to the plasma membrane. Electron microscopy revealed that the assembly of HIV-1 Gag particles was arrested at the plasma membrane, at an early stage of assembly. The mechanism of HERC5-induced restriction of HIV-1 particle production is distinct from the mechanism underlying HIV-1 restriction by the expression of ISG15 alone, which acts at a later step in particle release. Moreover, HERC5 restricted murine leukemia virus (MLV) Gag particle production, showing that HERC5 is effective in restricting Gag particle production of an evolutionarily divergent retrovirus.

CONCLUSIONS: HERC5 represents a potential new host factor that blocks an early stage of retroviral Gag particle assembly. With no apparent HIV-1 protein that directly counteracts it, HERC5 may represent a new candidate for HIV/AIDS therapy.

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