The nef gene of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) encodes a 27 to 34 kDa myristoylated protein, which enhances viral infectivity in a single-round infection assay. The level of Nef enhancement of HIV-1 infectivity depends on the viral strains, on the target cells, and on the cells used for propagating the viruses. In this study, we aimed at clarifying the molecular basis of these differences in the requirement for Nef. We found that the requirement for Nef was increased when we decreased the quantity of Env protein in the virus-producing cells or the quantity of CD4 in the target cells. Both the wild-type and Nef-defective HIV-1 viruses were propagated in 293T cells, which did not express any CD4; therefore, Nef-induced CD4 down-regulation did not explain this phenomenon. Moreover, we did not observe any increase in the viral entry or fusion activity of gp120 env in the wild-type HIV-1 compared to that in the Nef-defective HIV-1. Thus, we propose that Env on the virion and CD4 on the target cells have inhibitory effects on the post-entry step of the HIV-1 replication cycle, and that Nef functions to counteract this negative effect.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Sep 1, 2001
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