We have demonstrated that a molecular clone, SIV/17E-Fr, is neurovirulent in vivo and molecular analyses of this virus in primary macrophages and neuroendothelial cells mapped the domains critical for this phenotype to the transmembrane and Nef proteins. The Nef protein is crucial for virus replication and pathogenesis in SIV-infected rhesus macaques. In addition, both HIV and SIV require full-length Nef proteins for efficient virus replication in primary cells and optimal virion infectivity. To characterize further the contribution of Nef to enhanced infectivity and replication, we analyzed virus particles from a number of SIV recombinant clones. These clones contained nef genes derived from either a lymphocyte- tropic (SIV(mac)239) or neurovirulent (SIV/17E-Fr) virus or a nef gene with a premature stop codon or deletion. Immunoprecipitation of Nef from virus particles revealed that SIV Nef is incorporated into virions. Incorporation of the Nef protein was dependent on the presence of the N-terminal myristoylation sequence in the nef gene. In addition, enhanced replication and virion infectivity was associated only with viruses containing the full- length Nef protein. To investigate a potential mechanism of virion modification by Nef, in vitro kinase assays were performed on the virion- derived Nef protein. Nef-associated kinase activity was detected only in virions containing Nef sequences derived from the neurovirulent virus SIV/17E-Fr. Thus, these results suggest that selection for specific nef sequences occurs in vivo and has a significant effect on virus replication in specific cells and organs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases