The HIV-1 virion infectivity factor (Vif) targets the cellular cytidine deaminases APOBEC3G (A3G) and APOBEC3F (A3F) for degradation via the host ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. Vif recruits a cellular E3 ubiquitin ligase to polyubiquitinate A3G/F. The activity of Vif critically depends on the cellular core binding factor beta (CBFβ). In this study, we investigated the Vif-CBFβ interaction and the role of CBFβ in the E3 ligase assembly. Vif-CBFβ interaction requires an extensive region of Vif spanning most of its amino terminus and zinc finger region, and cullin 5 (Cul5) binding enhances the stability of the Vif-CBFβ interaction. Our results further demonstrate that CBFβ plays a critical role in facilitating Cul5 binding to the Vif/elongin B/elongin C complex. Vif, with or without bound substrate, is unable to bind Cul5 in the absence of CBFβ. These studies support the notion that CBFβ serves as a molecular chaperone to facilitate Vif-E3 ligase assembly.
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