A deletion mutation affecting vpu was introduced into an infectious molecular clone of human immunodeficiency virus type 1, and the resultant phenotype was examined after infection of human T lymphocytes. The absence of vpu resulted in an accumulation of cell-associated viral proteins and impaired the release of progeny virions. Both electron microscopic and biochemical analyses indicated that a large proportion of the mutant particles was attached to the surface of infected cells. Significant variation in the size and shape of these progeny virions was observed. In addition, intracytoplasmic particles, some of which formed aberrant budding structures, were visualized in T cells infected with the vpu mutant. Indirect immunofluorescence analyses of cultures inoculated with wild-type virus with use of a vpu-specific antiserum demonstrated that vpu is mainly localized to a perinuclear region in the cytoplasm of virus-producing cells
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