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Virology. 2011 Mar 1;411(1):65-77. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2010.12.038. Epub 2011 Jan 14.

BST-2 is rapidly down-regulated from the cell surface by the HIV-1 protein Vpu: evidence for a post-ER mechanism of Vpu-action.

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Department of Pathology, University of California-San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0679, USA.


Recent evidence suggests that transmembrane domain (TMD) interactions are essential for HIV-1 Vpu-mediated antagonism of the restriction factor BST-2/tetherin. We made Vpu TMD mutants to study the mechanism of BST-2 antagonism. Vpu-I17A, -A18F, -W22L, and -S23L co-localized with BST-2 within endosomal membranes while effectively enhancing virion release and down-regulating surface BST-2. However, Vpu-A18H was confined to an endoplasmic reticulum (ER)-like distribution, resulting in impaired down-regulation of BST-2 and reduced virion release. Brefeldin A confined wild type Vpu to the ER, resulting in a similarly impaired phenotype, as did the addition of a C-terminal ER-retention signal to Vpu. We determined the half-life of cell-surface BST-2 to be ~8 hours, whereas Vpu mediated an ~80% reduction of surface BST-2 within 6 hours, suggesting that TMD interactions between Vpu and BST-2 occur within post-ER membranes to directly and rapidly remove BST-2 from the cell surface and relieve restricted virion release.

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