bioRxiv. 2023 Jul 24:2023.07.24.548988. doi: 10.1101/2023.07.24.548988. Preprint.
Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) has an atypical immature particle morphology compared to other retroviruses. This indicates that these particles are formed in a way that is unique. Here we report the results of cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET) studies of HTLV-1 virus-like particles (VLPs) assembled in vitro , as well as derived from cells. This work shows that HTLV-1 employs an unconventional mechanism of Gag-Gag interactions to form the immature viral lattice. Analysis of high-resolution structural information from immature CA tubular arrays reveals that the primary stabilizing component in HTLV-1 is CA-NTD. Mutagenesis and biophysical analysis support this observation. This distinguishes HTLV-1 from other retroviruses, in which the stabilization is provided primarily by the CA-CTD. These results are the first to provide structural details of the quaternary arrangement of Gag for an immature deltaretrovirus, and this helps explain why HTLV-1 particles are morphologically distinct.