APOBEC3G (A3G) is a restriction factor that provides innate immunity against HIV-1 in the absence of viral infectivity factor (Vif) protein. However, structural information about A3G, which can aid in unraveling the mechanisms that govern its interactions and define its antiviral activity, remains unknown. Here, we built a computer model of a full-length A3G using docking approaches and molecular dynamics simulations, based on the available X-ray and NMR structural data for the two protein domains. The model revealed a large-scale dynamics of the A3G monomer, as the two A3G domains can assume compact forms or extended dumbbell type forms with domains visibly separated from each other. To validate the A3G model, we performed time-lapse high-speed atomic force microscopy (HS-AFM) experiments enabling us to get images of a fully hydrated A3G and to directly visualize its dynamics. HS-AFM confirmed that A3G exists in two forms, a globular form (∼84% of the time) and a dumbbell form (∼16% of the time), and can dynamically switch from one form to the other. The obtained HS-AFM results are in line with the computer modeling, which demonstrates a similar distribution between two forms. Furthermore, our simulations capture the complete process of A3G switching from the DNA-bound state to the closed state. The revealed dynamic nature of monomeric A3G could aid in target recognition including scanning for cytosine locations along the DNA strand and in interactions with viral RNA during packaging into HIV-1 particles.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work is supported by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH-R01GM11800601) to Y.L.L. and by the startup funding from the University of Texas at El Paso (S.G., L.V.). The authors gratefully acknowledge computer time provided by the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). R.S.H. is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
© 2017 American Chemical Society.