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Abstract

Human and simian immunodeficiency viruses (HIVs and SIVs, respectively) encode several small proteins (Vif, Vpr, Nef, Vpu, and Vpx) that are called accessory because they are not generally required for viral replication in cell culture. However, they play complex and important roles for viral immune evasion and spread in vivo. Here, we discuss the diverse functions and the relevance of the viral protein U (Vpu) that is expressed from a bicistronic RNA during the late stage of the viral replication cycle and found only in HIV-1 and closely related SIVs. It is well established that Vpu counteracts the restriction factor tetherin, mediates degradation of the primary viral CD4 receptors, and inhibits activation of the transcription factor nuclear factor kappa B. Recent studies identified additional activities and provided new insights into the sophisticated mechanisms by which Vpu enhances and prolongs the release of fully infectious viral particles. In addition, it has been shown that Vpu prevents superinfection not only by degrading CD4 but also by modulating DNA repair mechanisms to promote degradation of nuclear viral complementary DNA in cells that are already productively infected.

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2023-09-29
2024-06-19
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