HIV-1 Nef has been demonstrated to be integral for viral persistence, infectivity, and the acceleration of disease pathogenesis (AIDS) in humans. Nef has also been detected in the plasma of HIV-infected individuals and is released from infected cells. The form in which Nef is released from infected cells is unknown. However, Nef is a myristoylated protein and has been shown to interact with the intracellular vesicular trafficking network. Here we show that Nef is released in CD45-containing microvesicles. This microvesicular Nef (mvNef) is detected in the plasma of HIV-infected individuals at relatively high concentrations (10 ng/ml). It is also present in tissue culture supernatants of Jurkat cells infected with HIVMN. Interestingly, plasma mvNef levels in HIV+ patients did not significantly correlate with viral load or CD4 count. Microvesicular Nef levels persisted in the plasma of HIV-infected individuals despite the use of antiretroviral therapy, even in individuals with undetectable viral loads. Using cell lines, we found Nef microvesicles induce apoptosis in Jurkat T-lymphocytes but had no observed effect on the U937 monocytic cell line. Given the large amount of mvNef present in the plasma of HIV-infected individuals, the apoptotic effect of mvNef on T cells, and the observed functions of extracellular soluble Nef in vitro, it seems likely that in vivo mvNef may play a significant role in the pathogenesis of AIDS
To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.