Bioinformatics. 2004 Sep 22; 20(14): 2169-70; author reply 2171-4

FEBS Lett. 2004 Jun 4; 567(2-3): 183-8

The folding of HIV gp41 into a 6-helix bundle drives virus-cell membrane fusion. To examine the structural relationship between the 6-helix bundle core domain and other regions of gp41, we expressed in Escherichia coli, the entire ectodomain of HIV-2(ST) gp41 as a soluble, trimeric maltose-binding protein (MBP)/gp41 chimera. Limiting proteolysis indicated that the Cys-591-Cys-597 disulfide-bonded region is outside a core domain comprising two peptides, Thr-529-Trp-589 and Val-604-Ser-666. A biochemical examination of MBP/gp41 chimeras encompassing these core peptides indicated that the N-terminal polar segment, 521-528, and C-terminal membrane-proximal segment, 658-666, cooperate in stabilizing the ectodomain. A functional interaction between sequences outside the gp41 core may contribute energy to membrane fusion.