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Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2012 Jun 17;19(7):701-6. doi: 10.1038/nsmb.2328.

Structural basis of evasion of cellular adaptive immunity by HIV-1 Nef.

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Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, USA.


The HIV-1 protein Nef inhibits antigen presentation by class I major histocompatibility complex (MHC-I). We determined the mechanism of this activity by solving the crystal structure of a protein complex comprising Nef, the MHC-I cytoplasmic domain (MHC-I CD) and the μ1 subunit of the clathrin adaptor protein complex 1. A ternary, cooperative interaction clamps the MHC-I CD into a narrow binding groove at the Nef-μ1 interface, which encompasses the cargo-recognition site of μ1 and the proline-rich strand of Nef. The Nef C terminus induces a previously unobserved conformational change in μ1, whereas the N terminus binds the Nef core to position it optimally for complex formation. Positively charged patches on μ1 recognize acidic clusters in Nef and MHC-I. The structure shows how Nef functions as a clathrin-associated sorting protein to alter the specificity of host membrane trafficking and enable viral evasion of adaptive immunity.

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