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Sci Rep. 2015 Apr 15;5:9675. doi: 10.1038/srep09675.

Involvement of a C-terminal motif in the interference of primate lentiviral Vpu proteins with CD1d-mediated antigen presentation.

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Center for Infectious Medicine, Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska University Hospital Huddinge, 14186 Stockholm, Sweden.
Institute of Molecular Virology, Ulm University Medical Center, 89081 Ulm, Germany.


The HIV-1 accessory protein Vpu is emerging as a critical factor for viral evasion from innate immunity. We have previously shown that the Vpu proteins of two HIV-1 group M subtype B strains (NL4-3 and BaL) down-regulate CD1d from the surface of infected dendritic cells (DCs) and inhibit their crosstalk with the innate invariant natural killer T (iNKT) cells. In the present study, we have investigated the ability of a comprehensive set of primate lentiviral Vpu proteins to interfere with CD1d-mediated immunity. We found that CD1d down-regulation is a conserved function of Vpu proteins from HIV-1 groups M, O and P as well as their direct precursors SIVcpzPtt and SIVgor. At the group M subtype level, subtype C Vpu proteins were significantly weaker CD1d antagonists than subtype B Vpu proteins. Functional characterization of different mutants and chimeras derived from active subtype B and inactive subtype C Vpu proteins revealed that residues in the cytoplasmic domain are important for CD1d down-regulation. Specifically, we identified a C-terminal APW motif characteristic for group M subtype B Vpu proteins necessary for interference with CD1d surface expression. These findings support the notion that Vpu plays an important role in lentiviral evasion from innate immunity.

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