Publications & Reports

The conserved glycine-rich segment linking the N-terminal fusion peptide to the coiled coil of human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 transmembrane glycoprotein gp21 is a determinant of membrane fusion function.

Kirilee A Wilson, Severine Bar, Anne L Maerz, Marc Alizon, Pantelis Poumbourios
St. Vincent's Institute of Medical Research, Fitzroy, Victoria, Australia.


Retroviral transmembrane proteins (TMs) contain an N-terminal fusion peptide that initiates virus-cell membrane fusion. The fusion peptide is linked to the coiled-coil core through a conserved sequence that is often rich in glycines. We investigated the functional role of the glycine-rich segment, Met-326 to Ser-337, of the human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) TM, gp21, by alanine and proline scanning mutagenesis. Alanine substitution for the hydrophobic residue Ile-334 caused an approximately 90% reduction in cell-cell fusion activity without detectable effects on the lipid-mixing and pore formation phases of fusion. Alanine substitutions at other positions had smaller effects (Gly-329, Val-330, and Gly-332) or no effect on fusion function. Proline substitution for glycine residues inhibited cell-cell fusion function with position-dependent effects on the three phases of fusion. Retroviral glycoprotein fusion function thus appears to require flexibility within the glycine-rich segment and hydrophobic contacts mediated by this segment.


  • Journal: Journal of virology
  • Published: 01/04/2005
  • Volume: 79
  • Issue: 7
  • Pagination: 4533-4539