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Molecular Medicine Partnership Unit


Interfering with assembly and maturation of infectious HIV-1

Hans-Georg Kräusslich and John Briggs
Hans-Georg Kräusslich and John Briggs

Hans-Georg Kräusslich and John Briggs

Project Summary


HIV-1, the causative agent of AIDS, is a major human pathogen with >30 million infected people world-wide and several million deaths annually. More than twenty drugs targeting different stages of HIV replication are in clinical use, but there is still an urgent need for new antivirals. Rapid and wide-spread resistance and side effects of available drugs limit the currently available therapeutic arsenal. We apply a combination of virology with state-of-the-art electron microscopy methods to decipher the architecture and dynamic alterations of HIV during assembly and maturation. Applying these methods, we aim to (i) understand how the virus develops resistance against existing drugs, (ii) how novel drugs and drug candidates work and (iii) obtain sufficiently detailed structural information to inform structure-based drug design of compounds blocking formation of the virion.


Assembly and budding of HIV is directed by the viral Gag polyprotein. The virus is initially released as immature non-infectious particle consisting of mostly uncleaved Gag polyproteins. Extracellular maturation occurs after proteolytic processing of Gag at five different cleavage sites which is mediated by the virus-encoded, virion-associated protease (PR), translated as part of the Gag-Pol polyprotein. The immature virion consists of 2 - 3,000 Gag polyproteins arranged as spherical protein shell. Maturation leads to disassembly of the immature Gag layer, followed by a second assembly stage forming the mature cone-shaped capsid. Maturation and thus infectivity can be blocked by PR inhibitors, which are a mainstay of current anti-HIV therapy. Assembly of the immature as well as of the mature structure appear to be good antiviral targets, though only few compounds have been reported so far to affect these stages. The virion protein shell constitutes an irregular, heterogeneous structure, which makes structural analysis challenging. Cryo electron microscopy in combination with virology techniques is particularly suitable to overcome structural heterogeneity and to provide a higher resolution picture of the structures of the immature and mature virions as well as their intermediates. By doing so, these approaches will also provide the basis for an understanding of resistance to current drugs, define the mechanism of new compounds and identify new targets for structure-based drug development.

Research Goals

Research Goal 1:  PI resistance

Protease inhibitors (PI) have been a key factor in the success of HIV therapy, but as with all clinically used drugs resistance has been observed.

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Research Goal 2: Assembly inhibitors

Assembly of both the immature and the mature lattice appear to be good targets for antiviral agents, as multiple weak interactions must cooperate to achieve the ordered protein shell.

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Research Goal 3: Structure to inform drug design

To understand the assembly of the immature virus and to development new compounds directed against this structure, it is important to obtain a high-resolution structural view of the immature virus.

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Important publications

The structure and flexibility of conical HIV-1 capsids determined within intact virions.
Mattei S, Glass B, Hagen WJ, Kräusslich HG, Briggs JA.
Science. 2016 Dec 16;354(6318):1434-1437.
PMID: 27980210


An atomic model of HIV-1 capsid-SP1 reveals structures regulating assembly and maturation.
Schur FK, Obr M, Hagen WJ, Wan W, Jakobi AJ, Kirkpatrick JM, Sachse C, Kräusslich HG, Briggs JA.
Science. 2016 Jul 29;353(6298):506-8. doi: 10.1126/science.aaf9620.
Epub 2016 Jul 14.
PMID: 27417497


New hardware and workflows for semi-automated correlative cryo-fluorescence and cryo-electron microscopy/tomography.
Schorb M, Gaechter L, Avinoam O, Sieckmann F, Clarke M, Bebeacua C, Bykov YS, Sonnen AF, Lihl R, Briggs JA.
J Struct Biol. 2016 Jun 28. pii: S1047-8477(16)30135-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jsb.2016.06.020. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 27368127


Nucleic Acid Binding by Mason-Pfizer Monkey Virus CA Promotes Virus Assembly and Genome Packaging.
Füzik T, Píchalová R, Schur FK, Strohalmová K, Křížová I, Hadravová R, Rumlová M, Briggs JA, Ulbrich P, Ruml T.
J Virol. 2016 Apr 14;90(9):4593-603. doi: 10.1128/JVI.03197-15. Print 2016 May 1. PMID: 26912613


A saposin-lipoprotein nanoparticle system for membrane proteins.
Frauenfeld J, Löving R, Armache JP, Sonnen AF, Guettou F, Moberg P, Zhu L, Jegerschöld C, Flayhan A, Briggs JA, Garoff H, Löw C, Cheng Y, Nordlund P.
Nat Methods. 2016 Apr;13(4):345-51. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.3801. Epub 2016 Mar 7. PMID: 26950744


Retrovirus maturation-an extraordinary structural transformation.
Mattei S, Schur FK, Briggs JA.
Curr Opin Virol. 2016 Mar 21;18:27-35. doi: 10.1016/j.coviro.2016.02.008. [Epub ahead of print] Review. PMID: 27010119


The Structure of Immature Virus-Like Rous Sarcoma Virus Gag Particles Reveals a Structural Role for the p10 Domain in Assembly.
Schur FK, Dick RA, Hagen WJ, Vogt VM, Briggs JA.
J Virol. 2015 Oct;89(20):10294-302. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01502-15. Epub 2015 Jul 29. PMID: 26223638


Structural Analysis of the Roles of Influenza A Virus Membrane-Associated Proteins in Assembly and Morphology.
Chlanda P, Schraidt O, Kummer S, Riches J, Oberwinkler H, Prinz S, Kräusslich HG, Briggs JA.
J Virol. 2015 Sep 1;89(17):8957-66. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00592-15. Epub 2015 Jun 17. PMID:26085153


RNA and nucleocapsid are dispensable for mature HIV-1 capsid core assembly.
Mattei S, Flemming A, Anders-Össwein M, Kräusslich HG, Briggs JA, Müller B.
J Virol. 2015 Jul 15. pii: JVI.00750-15. [Epub ahead of print] PMID:26178992


Retroviral proteases and their roles in virion maturation.
Konvalinka J, Kräusslich HG, Müller B.
Virology. 2015 May;479-480:403-17. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2015.03.021. Epub 2015 Mar 26. Review. PMID: 25816761


Opens external link in new windowTriggering HIV polyprotein processing by light using rapid photodegradation of a tight-binding protease inhibitor.
Schimer J, Pávová M, Anders M, Pachl P, Šácha P, Cígler P, Weber J, Majer P, Řezáčová P, Kräusslich HG, Müller B, Konvalinka J.
Nat Commun. 2015 Mar 9;6:6461. doi: 10.1038/ncomms7461. PMID:25751579

Opens external link in new windowStructure of the immature HIV-1 capsid in intact virus particles at 8.8 Å resolution.
Schur FK, Hagen WJ, Rumlová M, Ruml T, Müller B, Kräusslich HG, Briggs JA.
Nature. 2015 Jan 22;517(7535):505-8. doi: 10.1038/nature13838. Epub 2014 Nov 2.
PMID: 25363765


Opens external link in new windowInduced maturation of human immunodeficiency virus.
Mattei S, Anders M, Konvalinka J, Kräusslich HG, Briggs JA, Müller B.
J Virol. 2014 Dec 1;88(23):13722-31. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02271-14. Epub 2014 Sep 17.

Opens external link in new windowCryo-electron microscopy of tubular arrays of HIV-1 Gag resolves structures essential for immature virus assembly.
Bharat, T.A., Castillo Menendez, L.R., Hagen, W.J., Lux, V., Igonet, S., Schorb, M., Schur, F.K., Krausslich, H.G. & Briggs, J.A.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 May 19. pii: 201401455. Europe PMC


Opens external link in new windowThe NC domain of Gag is dispensable for actin incorporation into HIV-1 and for association of viral budding sites with cortical F-actin.
Stauffer S1, Rahman SA, de Marco A, Carlson LA, Glass B, Oberwinkler H, Herold N, Briggs JA, Müller B, Grünewald K, Kräusslich HG.
J Virol. 2014 Apr 30. [Epub ahead of print]


Opens external link in new windowRole of the SP2 Domain and Its Proteolytic Cleavage in HIV-1 Structural Maturation and Infectivity
de Marco, A., Heuser, A.M., Glass, B., Krausslich, H.G., Muller, B. & Briggs, J.A.
J Virol. 2012 Dec;86(24):13708-16. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01704-12. Epub 2012 Oct 10


Opens external link in new windowThe molecular architecture of HIV. 
Briggs, J. A. Krausslich, H. G.
J Mol Biol 2011 410, 491-500. (Review)

Opens external link in new windowStructural analysis of HIV-1 maturation using cryo-electron tomography. 
de Marco, A., Muller, B., Glass, B., Riches, J. D., Krausslich, H. G. Briggs, J. A.
PLoS Pathog 2010 6, e1001215.

Opens external link in new windowCryo electron tomography of native HIV-1 budding sites. 
Carlson, L. A., de Marco, A., Oberwinkler, H., Habermann, A., Briggs, J. A., Krausslich, H. G. Grunewald, K.
PLoS Pathog 2010 6, e1001173.

Opens external link in new windowStructure and assembly of immature HIV. 
Briggs, J. A., Riches, J. D., Glass, B., Bartonova, V., Zanetti, G. Krausslich, H. G. 
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2009 106, 11090-5.

Opens external link in new windowAll previous publications

Opens external link in new windowResearch group's MMPU link to EMBL web page



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