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Cell. 1998 Oct 16;95(2):163-75.

Nef harbors a major determinant of pathogenicity for an AIDS-like disease induced by HIV-1 in transgenic mice.

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Clinical Research Institute of Montreal, Department of Medicine, Université de Montréal, Quebec, Canada.


Transgenic (Tg) mice expressing the complete coding sequences of HIV-1 in CD4+ T cells and in cells of the macrophage/dendritic lineages develop severe AIDS-like pathologies: failure to thrive/weight loss, diarrhea, wasting, premature death, thymus atrophy, loss of CD4+ T cells, interstitial pneumonitis, and tubulo-interstitial nephritis. The generation of Tg mice expressing selected HIV-1 gene(s) revealed that nef harbors a major disease determinant. The latency and progression (fast/slow) of the disease were strongly correlated with the levels of Tg expression. Nef-expressing Tg thymocytes were activated and alpha-CD3 hyperresponsive with respect to tyrosine phosphorylation of several substrates, including LAT and MAPK. The similarity of this mouse model to human AIDS, particularly pediatric AIDS, suggests that Nef may play a critical role in human AIDS, independently of its role in virus replication.

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