Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 15194762
J Virol 2004 Jul; 78(13): 6864-74
The accessory Nef protein allows human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) to persist at high levels and to cause AIDS in infected humans. The function of HIV-1 group M subtype B nef alleles has been extensively studied, and a variety of in vitro activities believed to be important for viral pathogenesis have been established. However, the function of nef alleles derived from naturally simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected chimpanzees, the original host of HIV-1, or from the HIV-1 N and O groups resulting from independent zoonotic transmissions remains to be investigated. In the present study we demonstrate that SIVcpz and HIV-1 group N or O nef alleles down-modulate CD4, CD28, and class I or II MHC molecules and up-regulate surface expression of the invariant chain (Ii) associated with immature major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II. Furthermore, the ability of Nef to interact with the p21-activated kinase 2 was generally conserved. The functional activity of HIV-1 group N and O nef genes did not differ significantly from group M nef alleles. However, SIVcpz nef genes as a group showed a 1.8- and 2.0-fold-higher activity in modulating CD28 (P = 0.0002) and Ii (P = 0.016) surface expression, respectively, but were 1.7-fold less active in down-regulating MHC class II molecules (P = 0.006) compared to HIV-1 M nef genes. Our finding that primary SIVcpz nef alleles derived from naturally infected chimpanzees modulate the surface expression of various human cellular receptors involved in T-cell activation and antigen presentation suggests that functional nef genes helped the chimpanzee virus to persist efficiently in infected humans immediately after zoonotic transmission.