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Longitudinal Within-host Evolution of HIV Nef-mediated CD4, HLA and SERINC5 Downregulation Activity: A Case Study

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The HIV accessory protein Nef downregulates the viral entry receptor CD4, the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA)-A and -B molecules, the Serine incorporator 5 (SERINC5) protein and other molecules from the infected cell surface, thereby promoting viral infectivity, replication and immune evasion. The nef locus also represents one of the most genetically variable regions in the HIV genome, and nef sequences undergo substantial evolution within a single individual over the course of infection. Few studies however have simultaneously characterized the impact of within-host nef sequence evolution on Nef protein function over prolonged timescales. Here, we isolated 50 unique Nef clones by single-genome amplification over an 11-year period from the plasma of an individual who was largely naïve to antiretroviral treatment during this time. Together, these clones harbored nonsynonymous substitutions at 13% of nef’s codons. We assessed their ability to downregulate cell-surface CD4, HLA and SERINC5 and observed that all three Nef functions declined modestly over time, where the reductions in CD4 and HLA downregulation (an average of 0.6% and 2.0% per year, respectively) achieved statistical significance. The results from this case study support all three Nef activities as being important to maintain throughout untreated HIV infection, but nevertheless suggest that, despite nef’s mutational plasticity, within-host viral evolution can compromise Nef function, albeit modestly, over prolonged periods.
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Sudderuddin, H., Kinloch, N.N., Jin, S.W. et al. Longitudinal within-host evolution of HIV Nef-mediated CD4, HLA and SERINC5 downregulation activity: a case study. Retrovirology 17, 3 (2020). DOI: 10.1186/s12977-019-0510-1.
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Longitudinal Within-host Evolution of HIV Nef-mediated CD4, HLA and SERINC5 Downregulation Activity: A Case Study
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