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Curr HIV Res. 2011 Oct;9(7):474-89.

The Nef-infectivity enigma: mechanisms of enhanced lentiviral infection.

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  • 1Department of Clinical Chemistry, Microbiology and Immunology, Ghent University, Belgium.


The Nef protein is an essential factor for lentiviral pathogenesis in humans and other simians. Despite a multitude of functions attributed to this protein, the exact role of Nef in disease progression remains unclear. One of its most intriguing functions is the ability of Nef to enhance the infectivity of viral particles. In this review we will discuss current insights in the mechanism of this well-known, yet poorly understood Nef effect. We will elaborate on effects of Nef, on both virion biogenesis and the early stage of the cellular infection, that might be involved in infectivity enhancement. In addition, we provide an overview of different HIV-1 Nef domains important for optimal infectivity and briefly discuss some possible sources of the frequent discrepancies in the field. Hereby we aim to contribute to a better understanding of this highly conserved and therapeutically attractive Nef function.

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