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Exp Cell Res. 2006 Apr 1;312(6):890-900. Epub 2006 Jan 27.

HIV-1 Nef protects human-monocyte-derived macrophages from HIV-1-induced apoptosis.

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National AIDS Center, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena, 299, 00161 Rome, Italy.


HIV-1 Nef is the regulatory protein expressed earliest and most abundantly in the infection cycle. Its expression has been correlated with a plethora of effects detectable either in producer, target, and bystander cells, as well as in the viral particles. Even if the relationship between Nef expression and apoptosis has been already matter of investigation in infected lymphocytes, whose resistance to HIV infection is however limited to few days, this remains to be investigated in cells that in vivo well resist the HIV cytopathic effect. In such an instance, we were interested in establishing whether Nef influences the apoptotic processes in primary human-monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM). High efficiency HIV-1 infection of MDM allowed us to establish that virus-expressed Nef strongly counteracts the HIV-1-induced apoptosis. The Nef mutant analysis suggested that this effect relies on the interaction with different protein partners and cell compartments. We also observed that the Nef protection to the HIV-1-induced apoptosis correlated with the hyper-phosphorylation and consequent inactivation of the pro-apoptotic Bad protein. On the basis of these results, we propose the Nef anti-apoptotic effect as a relevant part of the mechanism of the in vivo establishment of the HIV macrophage reservoirs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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