Journal of virology 2017 08 1091(17) pii 10.1128/JVI.00821-17
Recent evidence indicates that inhibition of HIV-1 integrase (IN) binding to the viral RNA genome by allosteric integrase inhibitors (ALLINIs) or through mutations within IN yields aberrant particles in which the viral ribonucleoprotein complexes (vRNPs) are eccentrically localized outside the capsid lattice. These particles are noninfectious and are blocked at an early reverse transcription stage in target cells. However, the basis of this reverse transcription defect is unknown. Here, we show that the viral RNA genome and IN from ALLINI-treated virions are prematurely degraded in target cells, whereas reverse transcriptase remains active and stably associated with the capsid lattice. The aberrantly shaped cores in ALLINI-treated particles can efficiently saturate and be degraded by a restricting TRIM5 protein, indicating that they are still composed of capsid proteins arranged in a hexagonal lattice. Notably, the fates of viral core components follow a similar pattern in cells infected with eccentric particles generated by mutations within IN that inhibit its binding to the viral RNA genome. We propose that IN-RNA interactions allow packaging of both the viral RNA genome and IN within the protective capsid lattice to ensure subsequent reverse transcription and productive infection in target cells. Conversely, disruption of these interactions by ALLINIs or mutations in IN leads to premature degradation of both the viral RNA genome and IN, as well as the spatial separation of reverse transcriptase from the viral genome during early steps of infection.IMPORTANCE Recent evidence indicates that HIV-1 integrase (IN) plays a key role during particle maturation by binding to the viral RNA genome. Inhibition of IN-RNA interactions yields aberrant particles with the viral ribonucleoprotein complexes (vRNPs) eccentrically localized outside the conical capsid lattice. Although these particles contain all of the components necessary for reverse transcription, they are blocked at an early reverse transcription stage in target cells. To explain the basis of this defect, we tracked the fates of multiple viral components in infected cells. Here, we show that the viral RNA genome and IN in eccentric particles are prematurely degraded, whereas reverse transcriptase remains active and stably associated within the capsid lattice. We propose that IN-RNA interactions ensure the packaging of both vRNPs and IN within the protective capsid cores to facilitate subsequent reverse transcription and productive infection in target cells.