The human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) hijacks the endosomal sorting complexes required for transport (ESCRT) to mediate virus release from infected cells. The nanoscale organization of ESCRT machinery necessary for mediating viral abscission is unclear. Here, we applied three-dimensional superresolution microscopy and correlative electron microscopy to delineate the organization of ESCRT components at HIV assembly sites. We observed ESCRT subunits localized within the head of budding virions and released particles, with head-localized levels of CHMP2A decreasing relative to Tsg101 and CHMP4B upon virus abscission. Thus, the driving force for HIV release may derive from initial scaffolding of ESCRT subunits within the viral bud interior followed by plasma membrane association and selective remodeling of ESCRT subunits.
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