Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Interdisciplinary Graduate Program


Program in Molecular Medicine

First Thesis Advisor

Maria L. Zapp, Ph.D.


Adaptor Protein Complex 3, gag Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus, Adaptor Protein Complex delta Subunits, Multivesicular Bodies


The process of HIV-1 particle production is a multi-step process directed by the viral structural protein Gag. As Gag is the only viral protein required to form virus-like particles, it presents a viable target for anti-viral therapeutics of which there are currently none. Although the functions of Gag during the particle assembly process have been well characterized, one of the least known parts of the assembly process is how Gag is targeted to the site of virus assembly.

Two main virus assembly sites have been identified in cells that support HIV-1 replication: the plasma membrane or multivesicular bodies (MVBs). However the mechanism by which Gag is targeted to either of these sites remains unknown. The δ subunit of Adaptor Protein Complex 3 has previously been identified as a cellular co-factor for HIV-1 Gag and was reported to mediate Gag trafficking to MVBs, providing a mechanism for Gag targeting to this assembly site. Additionally, AP-3δ was reported to be required for HIV-1 production, suggesting that Gag to MVB targeting is also required for HIV-1 production.

The work presented in this thesis further investigates the role of AP-3δ in Gag trafficking to MVBs and its role in HIV-1 production in previously unexplored host environments. Through the use of RNA interference-mediated depletion of AP-3δ, we determined that AP-3δ is dispensible for virus replication in infected HeLa cells, chronically infected HeLa-LAV cells and infected primary human monocyte-derived macrophages. We concomitantly disrupted AP-3 function by disrupting its association with membranes and observed no effect on virus production. Collectively, these results demonstrate that AP-3δ is not required for HIV-1 replication. However, AP-3δ was demonstrated to be required for Gag targeting to MVBs thus presenting a new model for the function of AP-3δ in the context of HIV-1 replication.



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