The HIV-1 accessory protein Nef is well known for its manipulation of host cell endosomal trafficking. By linking transmembrane proteins to endosomal coats, Nef removes them from the surface of infected cells. Modulation of MHC proteins leads to viral evasion of cellular adaptive immunity, whereas modulation of receptors for the HIV envelope glycoprotein, including CD4, enhances viral infectivity. The other HIV-1 accessory proteins, Vif, Vpr and Vpu, share a mechanism of action distinct from Nef in that each interacts with a multi-subunit ubiquitin ligase complex to target cellular proteins for proteosomal degradation. However, newly uncovered functions and mechanistic aspects of Vpu likely involve endosomal trafficking: these include counteraction of the innate antiviral activity of the cellular transmembrane protein BST-2 (tetherin), as well as the removal of the lipid-antigen presenting protein CD1d and the natural killer cell ligand NTB-A from the cell surface. This review focuses on how Nef and Vpu interfere with normal intracellular membrane trafficking to facilitate the spread and virulence of HIV-1.
An editorial on this review can be found at: