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Structural studies of the HIV-1 accessory protein Vpu in Langmuir monolayers: Synchrotron X-ray reflectivity

Zheng SY, Strzalka J, Ma C, Opella SJ, Ocko BM, Blasie JK

80 (4): 1837-1850 APR 2001
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Vpu is an 81 amino acid integral membrane protein encoded by the HIV-I genome with:a N-terminal hydrophobic domain and a C-terminal hydrophilic domain. It enhances the release of virus from the infected cell and triggers degradation of the virus receptor CD4. Langmuir monolayers of mixtures of Vpu and the phospholipid 1,2-dilignoceroyl-sn-glycero-3-phosphocholine (DLgPC) at the water-air interface were studied by synchrotron radiation-based x-ray reflectivity over a range of mole ratios at constant surface pressure and for several surface pressures at a maximal mole ratio of Vpu/DLgPC. Analysis of the x-ray reflectivity data by both stab model-refinement and model-independent box-refinement methods firmly establish the monolayer electron density profiles. The electron density profiles as a function of increasing Vpu/DLgPC mote ratio at a constant, relatively high surface pressure indicated that the amphipathic helices of the cytoplasmic domain lie on the surface of the phospholipid headgroups and the hydrophobic transmembrane helix is oriented approximately normal to the plane of monolayer within the phospholipid hydrocarbon chain layer. At maximal Vpu/DLgPC mole ratio, the tilt of the transmembrane helix with respect to the monolayer normal decreases with increasing surface pressure and the conformation of the cytoplasmic domain varies substantially with surface pressure.

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