Crystal structure of a retroviral polyprotein: Prototype foamy virus protease-reverse transcriptase (pr-rt)

Jerry Joe E.K. Harrison, Steve Tuske, Kalyan Das, Francesc X. Ruiz, Joseph D. Bauman, Paul L. Boyer, Jeffrey J. Destefano, Stephen H. Hughes, Eddy Arnold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


In most cases, proteolytic processing of the retroviral Pol portion of the Gag-Pol polypro-tein precursor produces protease (PR), reverse transcriptase (RT), and integrase (IN). However, foamy viruses (FVs) express Pol separately from Gag and, when Pol is processed, only the IN domain is released. Here, we report a 2.9 Å resolution crystal structure of the mature PR-RT from prototype FV (PFV) that can carry out both proteolytic processing and reverse transcription but is in a configuration not competent for proteolytic or polymerase activity. PFV PR-RT is monomeric and the architecture of PFV PR is similar to one of the subunits of HIV-1 PR, which is a dimer. There is a C-terminal extension of PFV PR (101-145) that consists of two helices which are adjacent to the base of the RT palm subdomain, and anchors PR to RT. The polymerase domain of PFV RT consists of fingers, palm, thumb, and connection subdomains whose spatial arrangements are similar to the p51 subunit of HIV-1 RT. The RNase H and polymerase domains of PFV RT are connected by flex-ible linkers. Significant spatial and conformational (sub)domain rearrangements are therefore required for nucleic acid binding. The structure of PFV PR-RT provides insights into the conforma-tional maturation of retroviral Pol polyproteins.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1495
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


  • Maturation
  • PFV
  • PR-RT
  • Pol polyprotein
  • Protease
  • Reverse transcriptase


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