The Nef proteins of Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have been shown to associate with several cellular kinases. Further, the ability of SIVmac239 Nef to associate with a p21-activated kinase (PAK)-related kinase has been correlated with pathogenic progression to AIDS in rhesus macaques. Because the ability of Nef to associate with the PAK-related kinase is viral isolate dependent, we reasoned that viral isolates derived from distinct physiological locations may encode Nef proteins that exhibit distinct kinase association profiles. In this study, we compared kinase activities associated with Nef proteins derived from the prototypic lymphocyte-tropic SIVmac239 and a macrophagetropic, neurovirulent clone, SIV/17E-Fr. Our findings not only support previous studies that have documented the association of SIVmac239 Nef with a PAK- related kinase and a Nef-associated kinase complex (NAKC) but describe a novel serine kinase activity detectable only in conjunction with the Nef protein derived from the neurovirulent clone, SIV/17E-Fr. The latter Nef protein does not associate with PAK, and unlike PAK or NAKC, this novel kinase activity iS enhanced in association with nonmyristoylated forms of Nef and can utilize both ATP and GTP as phosphodonors. We also show that at least one substrate for the kinase is Nef itself and demonstrate that the SIV/17E- Fr Nef protein is phosphorylated in SIV-infected cells. These results suggest that the ability to associate with cellular kinases in general may be a conserved feature of Nef, but particular kinase/Nef associations may evolve with changes in the host environment concomitant with viral spread.
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