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Nat Med. 2001 Nov;7(11):1217-24.

HIV-1 Nef associated PAK and PI3-kinases stimulate Akt-independent Bad-phosphorylation to induce anti-apoptotic signals.

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Department of Dermatology Erlangen, University of Erlangen/Nürnberg, Erlangen, Germany.


A highly conserved signaling property of Nef proteins encoded by human or simian immunodeficiency virus is the binding and activation of a PAK kinase whose function is unclear. Here we show that Nef-mediated p21-activated kinase (PAK) activation involves phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase, which acts upstream of PAK and is bound and activated by Nef similar to the manner of Polyoma virus middle T antigen. The Nef-associated phosphatidylinositol-3-PAK complex phosphorylated the pro-apoptotic Bad protein without involving the protein kinase B-Akt kinase, which is generally believed to inactivate Bad by serine phosphorylation. Consequently, Nef, but not a Nef mutant incapable of activating PAK, blocked apoptosis in T cells induced by serum starvation or HIV replication. Nef anti-apoptotic effects are likely a crucial mechanism for viral replication in the host and thus in AIDS pathogenesis.

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