Nef plays a major role in HIV-1 pathogenicity. We studied HIV-1 subtype C infected individuals in acute/early (n=120) or chronic (n=207) infection to investigate the relationship between Nef-mediated CD4/HLA-I down-regulation activities and disease progression, and the influence of immune-driven sequence variation on these Nef functions. A single Nef sequence per individual was cloned into an expression plasmid, followed by transfection of a T cell line and measurement of CD4 and HLA-I expression. In early infection, a trend of higher CD4 down-regulation ability correlating with higher viral load set point was observed (r=0.19, p=0.05), and higher HLA-I down-regulation activity was significantly associated with faster rate of CD4 decline (p=0.02). HLA-I down-regulation function correlated inversely with the number HLA-associated polymorphisms previously associated with reversion in the absence of the selecting HLA allele (r=-0.21, p=0.0002). These data support consideration of certain Nef regions in HIV-1 vaccine strategies designed to attenuate the infection course. © 2014 Elsevier Inc.
Mann, J. K., Chopera, D., Omarjee, S., Kuang, X. T., Le, A. Q., Anmole, G., … Ndung’u, T. (2014). Nef-mediated down-regulation of CD4 and HLA class I in HIV-1 subtype C infection: Association with disease progression and influence of immune pressure. Virology, 468–470, 214–225. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.virol.2014.08.009