We have established an assay for the function of preintegration complexes (PICs) of human immunodeficiency virus type 2 (HIV-2) to investigate the integration mechanism and to develop additional methods for screening candidate integration inhibitors. We partially purified HIV-2 PICs and found that they were competent to integrate viral cDNA into target DNA in vitro. Analysis of the structure of integration products on Southern blots revealed forms consistent with those expected for authentic integration products and circular forms containing one and two long terminal repeats. To determine whether in vitro products had the detailed structure expected of integration products formed in vivo, we recovered product molecules and analyzed junctions between viral DNA and target DNA. In the integration junctions of all nine molecules examined, we observed the 5-bp duplication of target sequence characteristic of integration in vivo. We investigated the possible role in integration of Vpx, a protein present in HIV-2 but not HIV-1 and known to be present in viral cores. Although association of Vpx with viral cDNA was detectable, our studies revealed no obvious role of Vpx in integration since the activities of PICs from Vpx- virions were indistinguishable from those of wild type. We have also investigated the use of HIV-2 PICs as tools to screen candidate HIV inhibitors. Assays with HIV-2 PICs, like assays with HIV-1 PICs, were less sensitive to many small molecule inhibitors than were reactions with purified integrase only. Comparing results of assays with PICs from HIV-1 and HIV-2 may be particularly useful, since inhibitors active against both may be more widely useful and less vulnerable to escape mutants
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