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A tyrosine-based trafficking signal in the simian immunodeficiency virus envelope cytoplasmic domain is strongly selected for in pathogenic SIV infection

By Scott Lawrence, Samra E Elser, Workineh Torben, Robert V. Blair, Bapi Pahar, Pyone P. Aye, Faith Schiro, Dawn Szeltner, Lara A Doyle-Meyers, Beth Haggarty, Andrea O Jordan, Josephine Romano, Xavier Alvarez, David H O'Connor, Roger W. Wiseman, Christine M Fennessey, Yuan Li, Michael Piatak, Jeffrey D. Lifson, Celia C. LaBranche, Andrew A. Lackner, Brandon F Keele, Nicholas J Maness, Mark Marsh, James A Hoxie

Posted 31 Mar 2021
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2021.03.31.437834

The HIV/SIV envelope glycoprotein (Env) cytoplasmic domain contains a highly conserved Tyr-dependent trafficking signal that mediates both clathrin-dependent endocytosis and polarized sorting of Env. Despite extensive characterization, the role of these functions in viral infection and pathogenesis is unclear. An SIV molecular clone (SIVmac239) in which the Tyr-based signal is inactivated by deletion of Gly-720 and Tyr-721 (SIVmac239{Delta}GY) replicates to high levels acutely in pigtail macaques (PTM) but is rapidly controlled. We previously reported that rhesus macaques and PTM can progress to AIDS following SIVmac239{Delta}GY infection in association with novel amino acid changes in the Env cytoplasmic domain. These included an R722G flanking the {Delta}GY deletion and a nine nucleotide deletion that encodes amino acids 734-736 ({Delta}QTH) and overlaps with the rev and tat open reading frames. We show that molecular clones containing these mutations reconstitute signals for both endocytosis and polarized sorting. In one PTM, a novel genotype was selected, which generated a new signal for polarized sorting but not endocytosis. This mutation by itself was sufficient to maintain high viral loads for several months when introduced into naive PTMs. These findings reveal, for the first time, strong selection pressure for Env endocytosis and, in particular, for polarized sorting during pathogenic SIV infection in vivo.

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