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Virology. 2001 Apr 10;282(2):267-77.

HIV-1 Nef blocks transport of MHC class I molecules to the cell surface via a PI 3-kinase-dependent pathway.

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Departments of Medicine and Microbiology and Immunology, The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109, USA.


HIV causes a chronic infection by evading immune eradication. A key element of HIV immune escape is the HIV-1 Nef protein. Nef causes a reduction in the level of cell surface major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I) protein expression, thus protecting HIV-infected cells from anti-HIV cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) recognition and killing. Nef also reduces cell surface levels of the HIV receptor, CD4, by accelerating endocytosis. We show here that endocytosis is not required for Nef-mediated downmodulation of MHC-I molecules. The main effect of Nef is to block transport of MHC-I molecules to the cell surface, leading to accumulation in intracellular organelles. Furthermore, the effect of Nef on MHC-I molecules (but not on CD4) requires phosphoinositide 3-kinase (PI 3-kinase) activity. We propose that Nef diverts MHC-1 proteins into a PI 3-kinase-dependent transport pathway that prevents expression on the cell surface.

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