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J Virol. 2006 Mar;80(6):3112-5.

Differential requirement for conserved tryptophans in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 Vif for the selective suppression of APOBEC3G and APOBEC3F.

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  • 1Second Affiliated Hospital, Cancer Institute, School of Medicine, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.


APOBEC3G (A3G) and related cytidine deaminases, such as APOBEC3F (A3F), are potent inhibitors of retroviruses. Formation of infectious human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) requires suppression of multiple cytidine deaminases by Vif. Whether HIV-1 Vif recognizes various APOBEC3 proteins through a common mechanism is unclear. The domains in Vif that mediate APOBEC3 recognitions are also poorly defined. The N-terminal region of HIV-1 Vif is unusually rich in Trp residues, which are highly conserved. In the present study, we examined the role of these Trp residues in the suppression of APOBEC3 proteins by HIV-1 Vif. We found that most of the highly conserved Trp residues were required for efficient suppression of both A3G and A3F, but some of these residues were selectively required for the suppression of A3F but not A3G. Mutant Vif molecules in which Ala was substituted for Trp79 and, to a lesser extent, for Trp11 remained competent for A3G interaction and its suppression; however, they were defective for A3F interaction and therefore could not efficiently suppress the antiviral activity of A3F. Interestingly, while the HIV-1 Vif-mediated degradation of A3G was not affected by the different C-terminal tag peptides, that of A3F was significantly influenced by its C-terminal tags. These data indicate that the mechanisms by which HIV-1 Vif recognizes its target molecules, A3G and A3F, are not identical. The fact that several highly conserved residues in Vif are required for the suppression of A3F but not that of A3G suggests a critical role for A3F in the restriction of HIV-1 in vivo.

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