Folding Regulates Autoprocessing of HIV-1 Protease Precursor Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Autoprocessing of HIV-1 protease (PR) precursors is a crucial step in the generation of the mature protease. Very little is known regarding the molecular mechanism and regulation of this important process in the viral life cycle. In this context we report here the first and complete residue level investigations on the structural and folding characteristics of the 17-kDa precursor TFR-PR-C(nn) (161 residues) of HIV-1 protease. The precursor shows autoprocessing activity indicating that the solution has a certain population of the folded active dimer. Removal of the 5-residue extension, C(nn) at the C-terminal of PR enhanced the activity to some extent. However, NMR structural characterization of the precursor containing a mutation, D25N in the PR at pH 5.2 and 32 degrees C under different conditions of partial and complete denaturation by urea, indicate that the precursor has a high tendency to be unfolded. The major population in the ensemble displays some weak folding propensities in both the TFR and the PR regions, and many of these in the PR region are the non-native type. As both D25N mutant and wild-type PR are known to fold efficiently to the same native dimeric form, we infer that TFR cleavage enables removal of the non-native type of preferences in the PR domain to cause constructive folding of the protein. These results indicate that intrinsic structural and folding preferences in the precursor would have important regulatory roles in the autoprocessing reaction and generation of the mature enzyme.


  • Chatterjee, Amarnath
  • Mridula, P
  • Mishra, Ram
  • Mittal, Rohit
  • Hosur, Ramakrishna V

publication date

  • March 2005