Ty1 proteolytic cleavage sites are required for transposition: All sites are not created equal

G. V. Merkulov, Jr Lawler, Y. Eby, J. D. Boeke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The retroviral protease is a key enzyme in a viral multienzyme complex that initiates an ordered sequence of events leading to virus assembly and propagation. Viral peptides are initially synthesized as polyprotein precursors; these precursors undergo a number of proteolytic cleavages executed by the protease in a specific and presumably ordered manner. To determine the role of individual protease cleavage sites in Ty1, a retrotransposon from Saccharomyces cerevisiae, the cleavage sites were systematically mutagenized. Altering the cleavage sites of the yeast Ty1 retrotransposon produces mutants with distinct retrotransposition phenotypes. Blocking the Gag/PR site also blocks cleavage at the other two cleavage sites, PR/IN and IN/RT. In contrast, mutational block of the PR/IN or IN/RT sites does not prevent cleavage at the other two sites. Retrotransposons with mutations in each of these sites have transposition defects. Mutations in the PR/IN and IN/RT sites, but not in the Gag/PR site, can be complemented in trans by endogenous Ty1 copies. Hence, the digestion of the Gag/PR site and release of the protease N terminus is a prerequisite for processing at the remaining sites; cleavage of PR/IN is not required for the cleavage of IN/RT, and vice versa. Of the three cleavage sites in the Gag-Pol precursor, the Gag/PR site is processed first. Thus, Ty1 Gag-Pol processing proceeds by an ordered pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)638-644
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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