Membrane protein assembly: Two cytoplasmic phosphorylated serine sites of Vpu from HIV-1 affect oligomerization

Chin Pei Chen, Meng Han Lin, Ya Ting Chan, Li Chyong Chen, Che Ma, Wolfgang B. Fischer*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Viral protein U (Vpu) encoded by human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is a short integral membrane protein which is known to self-assemble within the lipid membrane and associate with host factors during the HIV-1 infectivity cycle. In this study, full-length Vpu (M group) from clone NL4-3 was over-expressed in human cells and purified in an oligomeric state. Various single and double mutations were constructed on its phosphorylation sites to mimic different degrees of phosphorylation. Size exclusion chromatography of wild-type Vpu and mutants indicated that the smallest assembly unit of Vpu was a dimer and over time Vpu formed higher oligomers. The rate of oligomerization increased when (i) the degree of phosphorylation at serines 52 and 56 was decreased and (ii) when the ionic strength was increased indicating that the cytoplasmic domain of Vpu affects oligomerization. Coarse-grained molecular dynamic simulations with models of wild-type and mutant Vpu in a hydrated lipid bilayer supported the experimental data in demonstrating that, in addition to a previously known role in downregulation of host factors, the phosphorylation sites of Vpu also modulate oligomerization.

Original languageEnglish
Article number28866
JournalScientific reports
StatePublished - 29 Jun 2016


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