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PLoS One. 2008;3(12):e3963. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003963. Epub 2008 Dec 17.

Distinct determinants in HIV-1 Vif and human APOBEC3 proteins are required for the suppression of diverse host anti-viral proteins.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.



APOBEC3G (A3G) and related cytidine deaminases of the APOBEC3 family of proteins are potent inhibitors of many retroviruses, including HIV-1. Formation of infectious HIV-1 requires the suppression of multiple cytidine deaminases by Vif. HIV-1 Vif suppresses various APOBEC3 proteins through the common mechanism of recruiting the Cullin5-ElonginB-ElonginC E3 ubiquitin ligase to induce target protein polyubiquitination and proteasome-mediated degradation. The domains in Vif and various APOBEC3 proteins required for APOBEC3 recognition and degradation have not been fully characterized.


In the present study, we have demonstrated that the regions of APOBEC3F (A3F) that are required for its HIV-1-mediated binding and degradation are distinct from those reported for A3G. We found that the C-terminal cytidine deaminase domain (C-CDD) of A3F alone is sufficient for its interaction with HIV-1 Vif and its Vif-mediated degradation. We also observed that the domains of HIV-1 Vif that are uniquely required for its functional interaction with full-length A3F are also required for the degradation of the C-CDD of A3F; in contrast, those Vif domains that are uniquely required for functional interaction with A3G are not required for the degradation of the C-CDD of A3F. Interestingly, the HIV-1 Vif domains required for the degradation of A3F are also required for the degradation of A3C and A3DE. On the other hand, the Vif domains uniquely required for the degradation of A3G are dispensable for the degradation of cytidine deaminases A3C and A3DE.


Our data suggest that distinct regions of A3F and A3G are targeted by HIV-1 Vif molecules. However, HIV-1 Vif suppresses A3F, A3C, and A3DE through similar recognition determinants, which are conserved among Vif molecules from diverse HIV-1 strains. Mapping these determinants may be useful for the design of novel anti-HIV inhibitors.

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