The HIV-1 integrase mutant R263A/K264A is 2-fold defective for TRN-SR2 binding and viral nuclear import

Stéphanie De Houwer, Jonas Demeulemeester, Wannes Thys, Susana Rocha, Lieve Dirix, Rik Gijsbers, Frauke Christ, Zeger Debyser (see publication in Journal )


Transportin-SR2 (Tnpo3, TRN-SR2), a human karyopherin encoded by the TNPO3 gene, has been identified as a cellular cofactor of HIV-1 replication, specifically interacting with HIV-1 integrase (IN). Whether this interaction mediates the nuclear import of HIV remains controversial. We previously characterized the TRN-SR2 binding interface in IN and introduced mutations at these positions to corroborate the biological relevance of the interaction. The pleiotropic nature of IN mutations complicated the interpretation. Indeed, all previously tested IN interaction mutants also affected reverse transcription (RT). Here we report on a virus with a pair of IN mutations, INR263A/K264A, that significantly reduce interaction with TRN-SR2. The virus retains wild-type reverse transcription activity but displays a block in nuclear import and integration, as measured by Q-PCR. The defect in integration of this mutant resulted in a smaller increase in the number of 2-LTR circles than for virus specifically blocked at integration by raltegravir or catalytic site mutations (IND64N/D116N/E152Q). Finally, using an eGFP-IN labeled HIV fluorescence-based import assay, the defect in nuclear import was corroborated. These data altogether underscore the importance of the HIV-IN TRN-SR2 protein-protein interaction for HIV nuclear import and validate the IN/TRN-SR2 interaction interface as a promising target for future antiviral therapy.