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Polymorphic Nature of Human T-Cell Leukemia Virus Type 1 Particle Cores as Revealed through Characterization of a Chronically Infected Cell Line.

Polymorphic Nature of Human T-Cell Leukemia Virus Type 1 Particle Cores as Revealed through Characterization of a Chronically Infected Cell Line.
Author Information (click to view)

Meissner ME, Mendonça LM, Zhang W, Mansky LM,


Meissner ME, Mendonça LM, Zhang W, Mansky LM, (click to view)

Meissner ME, Mendonça LM, Zhang W, Mansky LM,

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Journal of virology 2017 07 2791(16) pii 10.1128/JVI.00369-17

Abstract

Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is the etiological agent of adult T-cell leukemia (ATL) and HTLV-1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP). HTLV-1 cell-to-cell transmission is dependent on the release of infectious virus particles into the virological synapse. The HTLV-1 particle structure is still poorly understood, and previous studies analyzed viruses produced by transformed lymphocytic cell lines chronically infected with HTLV-1, particularly the MT-2 cell line, which harbors truncated proviruses and expresses aberrant forms of the Gag protein. In this study, we demonstrate that the chronically infected SP cell line harbors a relatively low number of proviruses, making it a more promising experimental system for the study of the HTLV-1 particle structure. We first identified the genomic sites of integration and characterized the genetic structure of the gag region in each provirus. We also determined that despite encoding a truncated Gag protein, only the full-length Gag protein was incorporated into virus particles. Cryo-transmission electron microscopy analyses of the purified virus particles revealed three classes of particles based upon capsid core morphology: complete cores, incomplete cores, and particles without distinct electron densities that would correlate with the capsid region of a core structure. Observed cores were generally polygonal, and virus particles were on average 115 nm in diameter. These data corroborate particle morphologies previously observed for MT-2 cells and provide evidence that the known poor infectivity of HTLV-1 particles may correlate with HTLV-1 particle populations containing few virus particles possessing a complete capsid core structure.IMPORTANCE Studies of retroviral particle core morphology have demonstrated a correlation between capsid core stability and the relative infectivity of the virus. In this study, we used cryo-transmission electron microscopy to demonstrate that HTLV-1 particles produced from a distinct chronically infected cell line are polymorphic in nature, with many particles lacking organized electron densities that would correlate with a complete core structure. These findings have important implications for infectious HTLV-1 spread, particularly in the context of cell-to-cell transmission, a critical step in HTLV-1 transmission and pathogenesis.

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