Divergent Bro1 domains share the capacity to bind human immunodeficiency virus type 1 nucleocapsid and to enhance virus-like particle production.
To promote the release of infectious virions, human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) exploits the endosomal sorting complex required for transport (ESCRT) pathway by engaging Tsg101 and ALIX through late assembly (L) domains in p6 Gag. An LYPx(n)L motif in p6 serves as docking site for the central V domain of ALIX and is required for its ability to stimulate HIV-1 budding. Additionally, the nucleocapsid (NC) domain of Gag binds to the N-terminal Bro1 domain of ALIX, which connects ALIX to the membrane-deforming ESCRT-III complex via its CHMP4 subunits. Since the isolated Bro1 domain of ALIX is sufficient to markedly stimulate virus-like particle (VLP) production in a minimal Gag rescue assay, we examined whether the Bro1 domains of other human proteins possess a similar activity. We now show that the Bro1 domain-only protein Brox and the isolated Bro1 domains of HD-PTP and rhophilin all bind to HIV-1 NC. Furthermore, all shared the capacity to stimulate VLP production by a minimal HIV-1 Gag molecule, and Brox in particular was as potent as the Bro1 domain of ALIX in this assay. Unexpectedly, Brox retained significant activity even if its CHMP4 binding site was disrupted. Thus, the ability to assist in VLP production may be an intrinsic property of the boomerang-shaped Bro1 domain.