On June 2nd 2016, the study jointly developed by the research teams led by Professor Zongqiang Cui in WIV, Professor Xianen Zhang in Institute of Biophysics, CAS and Professor Zhike He in Wuhan University was published online by the ACS Nano journal. The research paper (DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.6b02462) first demonstrates the real-time imaging of single HIV-1 disassembly with multicolor viral particles.
Viral disassembly is poorly understood and related to the infection mechanism. However, directly observing the process in living cells remains technically challenging. In this study, the genome RNA, capsid, and matrix protein of the HIV-1 virus were labeled with a Ru(II) complex ([Ru(phen)2(dppz)]2+), the TC-FlAsH/ReAsH system, and EGFP/ECFP, respectively. Using the multicolored virus and single-particle imaging, the scientists were able to track the sequential disassembly process of single HIV-1 virus particles in live host cells. Approximately 0.1% of viral particles were observed to undergo a sequential disassembly process at 60–120 min post infection. The timing and efficiency of the disassembly were influenced by the cellular factor CypA and reverse transcription.
In this study, the real-time dynamic analysis on disassembly process of single HIV-1 virus particles in live host cells is first carried out. The findings facilitate a better understanding of the processes governing the HIV-1 lifecycle. The multicolor labeling protocol developed in this study may find many applications involving virus–host-cell interactions.