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J Virol. 1996 Dec;70(12):8263-9.

Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 Vif does not influence expression or virion incorporation of gag-, pol-, and env-encoded proteins.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia 19104-6148, USA.


The Vif protein of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 is required for productive replication in peripheral blood lymphocytes and a limited number of immortalized T-lymphoid lines (nonpermissive cells). In contrast, Vif is fully dispensable for virus replication in other T-cell lines (permissive cells). Because the infection phenotype of released virions is determined by producer cells and by the presence of Vif in those cells, we have analyzed the protein contents of purified viral particles in an attempt to define compositional differences that could explain the infection phenotype. Surprisingly, we were unable to discern any Vif- or cell-type-dependent quantitative or qualitative difference in the Gag, Pol, and Env proteins of virions or virus-producing cells that correlates with virus infectivity. We were, however, able to demonstrate that Vif itself is present in virions and, using semiquantitative Western blotting (immunoblotting), that there is an average of 30 to 80 molecules of Vif incorporated into each virion. Importantly, parallel analyses of total lysates of the producer cells revealed that the cell-associated expression levels of Vif are close to those of the Gag proteins. Given the dramatically higher abundance of Vif in cells than in virions, we speculate that Vif exerts its principal activity during the processes of virus assembly and budding and that this function could be of a structural-conformational nature.

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