Assembly of immature HIV-1 capsids using a cell-free system

Jaisri R. Lingappa, Beth K. Thielen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Scopus citations


For many years it has been known that viral capsid proteins are capable of self-assembly, but increasing evidence over the past decade indicates that in cells HIV-1 capsid assembly occurs via a complex but transient series of steps requiring multiple viral-host interactions. To better understand the biochemistry of HIV assembly, our group established a cell-free system that faithfully reconstitutes HIV-1 Gag synthesis and post-translational events of capsid assembly using cellular extracts, albeit more slowly and less efficiently. This system allowed initial identification of interactions that occur very transiently in cells but can be tracked in the cell-free system. Analysis of the cell-free system revealed that Gag progresses sequentially through a step-wise, energy-dependent series of assembly intermediates containing cellular proteins. One of these cellular proteins, the ATPase ABCE1, has been shown to play a critical role in the assembly process. The existence of this energy-dependent assembly pathway was subsequently confirmed in cellular systems, further validating the cell-free HIV-1 capsid assembly system as an excellent tool for identifying mechanisms underlying HIV-1 capsid formation. Here we describe how to assemble immature HIV-1 capsids in a cell-free system and separate assembly intermediates by velocity sedimentation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHIV Protocols
EditorsVinayaka R. Prasad, Ganjam V. Kalpana
Number of pages11
StatePublished - 2009

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745


  • ABCE1
  • Assembly
  • Capsid
  • Cell-free system
  • Gag
  • In vitro translation
  • Myristoylation
  • Velocity sedimentation
  • Wheat germ extract


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