The four ESCRT (endocytic sorting complexes required for transport) complexes (ESCRT-0, -I, -II, and -III) normally operate sequentially in the trafficking of cellular cargo. HIV-1 Gag trafficking and release as virus-like particles (VLPs) require the participation of ESCRTs; however, its use of ESCRTs is selective and nonsequential. Specifically, Gag trafficking to release sites on the plasma membrane does not require ESCRT-0 or -II. It is known that a bypass of ESCRT-0 is achieved by the direct linkage of the ESCRT-I component, Tsg101, to the primary L domain motif (PTAP) in Gag and that bypass of ESCRT-II is achieved by the linkage of Gag to ESCRT-III through the adaptor protein Alix. However, the mechanism by which Gag suppresses the interaction of bound ESCRT-I with ESCRT-II is unknown. Here we show (i) that VLP release requires the steady-state level of Sprouty 2 (Spry2) in COS-1 cells, (ii) that Spry2 binds the ESCRT-II component Eap20, (iii) that binding Eap20 permits Spry2 to disrupt ESCRT-I interaction with ESCRT-II, and (iv) that coexpression of Gag with a Spry2 fragment that binds Eap20 increases VLP release. Spry2 also facilitated release of P7L-Gag (i.e., release in the absence of Tsg101 binding). In this case, rescue required the secondary L domain (YPXnL) in HIV-1 Gag that binds Alix and the region in Spry2 that binds Eap20. The results identify Spry2 as a novel cellular factor that facilitates release driven by the primary and secondary HIV-1 Gag L domains
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