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J Virol. 2007 Apr;81(8):3877-90. Epub 2007 Jan 31.

Downregulation of CD4 by human immunodeficiency virus type 1 Nef is dependent on clathrin and involves direct interaction of Nef with the AP2 clathrin adaptor.

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Cell Biology and Metabolism Branch, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bldg. 18T, Rm. 101, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA.


Nef, an accessory protein of human and simian immunodeficiency viruses, is a critical determinant of pathogenesis that promotes the progression from infection to AIDS. The pathogenic effects of Nef are in large part dependent on its ability to downregulate the macrophage and T-cell coreceptor, CD4. It has been proposed that Nef induces downregulation by linking the cytosolic tail of CD4 to components of the host-cell protein trafficking machinery. To identify these components, we developed a novel Nef-CD4 downregulation system in Drosophila melanogaster S2 cells. We found that human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Nef downregulates human CD4 in S2 cells and that this process is subject to the same sequence requirements as in human cells. An RNA interference screen targeting protein trafficking genes in S2 cells revealed a requirement for clathrin and the clathrin-associated, plasma membrane-localized AP2 complex in the downregulation of CD4. The requirement for AP2 was confirmed in the human cell line HeLa. We also used a yeast three-hybrid system and glutathione S-transferase pull-down analyses to demonstrate a robust, direct interaction between HIV-1 Nef and AP2. This interaction requires a dileucine motif in Nef that is also essential for downregulation of CD4. Together, these results support a model in which HIV-1 Nef downregulates CD4 by promoting its accelerated endocytosis by a clathrin/AP2 pathway.

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