The Role of RNA in HIV-1 Vif-Mediated Degradation of APOBEC3H

Jiayi Wang, Jordan T Becker, Ke Shi, Kate V Lauer, Daniel J Salamango, Hideki Aihara, Nadine M Shaban, Reuben S Harris


As many as five members of the APOBEC3 family of DNA cytosine deaminases are capable of inhibiting HIV-1 replication by deaminating viral cDNA cytosines and interfering with reverse transcription. HIV-1 counteracts restriction with the virally encoded Vif protein, which forms a hybrid ubiquitin ligase complex that directly binds APOBEC3 enzymes and targets them for proteasomal degradation. APOBEC3H (A3H) is unique among family members by dimerization through cellular and viral duplex RNA species. RNA binding is required for localization of A3H to the cytoplasmic compartment, for efficient packaging into nascent HIV-1 particles and ultimately for effective virus restriction activity. Here we compared wild-type human A3H and RNA binding-defective mutants to ask whether RNA may be a factor in the functional interaction with HIV-1 Vif. We used structural modeling, immunoblotting, live cell imaging, and split green fluorescence protein (GFP) reconstitution approaches to assess the capability of HIV-1 Vif to promote the degradation of wild-type A3H in comparison to RNA binding-defective mutants. The results combined to show that RNA is not strictly required for Vif-mediated degradation of A3H, and that RNA and Vif are likely to bind this single-domain DNA cytosine deaminase on physically distinct surfaces. However, a subset of the results also indicated that the A3H degradation process may be affected by A3H protein structure, subcellular localization, and differences in the constellation of A3H interaction partners, suggesting additional factors may also influence the fate and functionality of this host-pathogen interaction.