Detection of the HIV-1 Accessory Proteins Nef and Vpu by Flow Cytometry Represents a New Tool to Study Their Functional Interplay within a Single Infected CD4+ T Cell

Academic Article


  • The HIV-1 Nef and Vpu accessory proteins are known to protect infected cells from antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) responses by limiting exposure of CD4-induced (CD4i) envelope (Env) epitopes at the cell surface. Although both proteins target the host receptor CD4 for degradation, the extent of their functional redundancy is unknown. Here, we developed an intracellular staining technique that permits the intracellular detection of both Nef and Vpu in primary CD41 T cells by flow cytometry. Using this method, we show that the combined expression of Nef and Vpu predicts the susceptibility of HIV-1-infected primary CD41 T cells to ADCC by HIV1 plasma. We also show that Vpu cannot compensate for the absence of Nef, thus providing an explanation for why some infectious molecular clones that carry a LucR reporter gene upstream of Nef render infected cells more susceptible to ADCC responses. Our method thus represents a new tool to dissect the biological activity of Nef and Vpu in the context of other host and viral proteins within single infected CD41 T cells. IMPORTANCE HIV-1 Nef and Vpu exert several biological functions that are important for viral immune evasion, release, and replication. Here, we developed a new method allowing simultaneous detection of these accessory proteins in their native form together with some of their cellular substrates. This allowed us to show that Vpu cannot compensate for the lack of a functional Nef, which has implications for studies that use Nef-defective viruses to study ADCC responses.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Prévost J; Richard J; Gasser R; Medjahed H; Kirchhoff F; Hahn BH; Kappes JC; Ochsenbauer C; Duerr R; Finzi A
  • Volume

  • 96
  • Issue

  • 6