Monitoring the autoproteolysis of hiv-1 protease by site-directed spin-labeling and electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy


Site-directed spin-labeling with continuous wave electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to monitor autoproteolysis of HIV-1 protease, an enzyme essential for viral maturation. Two protein constructs were examined, namely subtype F and the circulating recombinant form CRF01_A/E. As the protease undergoes self-cleavage, protein unfolds and small peptide fragments containing the spin label are generated, which collectively give rise to a sharp spectral component that is easily discernable in the high-field resonance line in the EPR spectrum. By monitoring the intensity of this spectral component over time, the autoproteolytic stability of each construct was characterized under various conditions. Data were collected for samples stored at 4 °C, 25 °C, and 37 °C, and on a subtype F HIV-1 protease sample stored at 25 °C and containing the FDA-approved protease inhibitor Tipranavir. As expected, the rate of autoproteolysis decreased as the storage temperature was lowered. Minimal autoproteolysis was seen for the sample that contained Tipranavir, providing direction for future spectroscopic studies of active protease samples. When compared to standard methods of monitoring protein degradation such as gel electrophoresis or chromatographic analyses, spin-labeling with CW EPR offers a facile, real-time, non-consuming way to monitor autoproteolysis or protein degradation. Additionally, mass spectrometry studies revealed that the N-termini of both constructs are sensitive to degradation and that the sites of specific autoproteolysis vary.

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Kear, J. , Galiano, L. , Veloro, A. , Busenlehner, L. and Fanucci, G. (2011) Monitoring the autoproteolysis of hiv-1 protease by site-directed spin-labeling and electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy. Journal of Biophysical Chemistry, 2, 137-146. doi: 10.4236/jbpc.2011.22017.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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