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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Apr 29;111(17):6425-30. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1321507111. Epub 2014 Apr 14.

Tetherin antagonism by Vpu protects HIV-infected cells from antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunobiology, New England Primate Research Center, Harvard Medical School, Southborough, MA 01772.


Tetherin is an IFN-inducible transmembrane protein that inhibits the detachment of enveloped viruses from infected cells. HIV-1 overcomes this restriction factor by expressing HIV-1 viral protein U (Vpu), which down-regulates and degrades tetherin. We report that mutations in Vpu that impair tetherin antagonism increase the susceptibility of HIV-infected cells to antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC), and conversely that RNAi knockdown of tetherin, but not other cellular proteins down-modulated by Vpu, decreases the susceptibility of HIV-infected cells to ADCC. These results reveal that Vpu protects HIV-infected cells from ADCC as a function of its ability to counteract tetherin. By serving as link between innate and adaptive immunity, the antiviral activity of tetherin may be augmented by virus-specific antibodies, and hence much greater than previously appreciated.


AIDS; BST-2; CD317; lentivirus

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