Collections > UNC Scholarly Publications > BioMed Central > Overlapping effector interfaces define the multiple functions of the HIV-1 Nef polyproline helix

Background: HIV-1 Nef is a multifunctional protein required for full pathogenicity of the virus. As Nef has no known enzymatic activity, it necessarily functions through protein-protein interaction interfaces. A critical Nef protein interaction interface is centered on its polyproline segment (P69VRPQVPLRP78) which contains the helical SH3 domain binding protein motif, PXXPXR. We hypothesized that any Nef-SH3 domain interactions would be lost upon mutation of the prolines or arginine of PXXPXR. Further, mutation of the non-motif “X” residues, (Q73, V74, and L75) would give altered patterns of inhibition for different Nef/SH3 domain protein interactions. Results: We found that mutations of either of the prolines or the arginine of PXXPXR are defective for Nef-Hck binding, Nef/activated PAK2 complex formation and enhancement of virion infectivity (EVI). Mutation of the non-motif “X” residues (Q, V and L) gave similar patterns of inhibition for Nef/activated PAK2 complex formation and EVI which were distinct from the pattern for Hck binding. These results implicate an SH3 domain containing protein other than Hck for Nef/activated PAK2 complex formation and EVI. We have also mutated Nef residues at the N-and C-terminal ends of the polyproline segment to explore interactions outside of PXXPXR. We discovered a new locus GFP/F (G67, F68, P69 and F90) that is required for Nef/activated PAK2 complex formation and EVI. MHC Class I (MHCI) downregulation was only partially inhibited by mutating the PXXPXR motif residues, but was fully inhibited by mutating the C-terminal P78. Further, we observed that MHCI downregulation strictly requires G67 and F68. Our mutational analysis confirms the recently reported structure of the complex between Nef, AP-1 μ1 and the cytoplasmic tail of MHCI, but does not support involvement of an SH3 domain protein in MHCI downregulation. Conclusion: Nef has evolved to be dependent on interactions with multiple SH3 domain proteins. To the N- and C- terminal sides of the polyproline helix are multifunctional protein interaction sites. The polyproline segment is also adapted to downregulate MHCI with a non-canonical binding surface. Our results demonstrate that Nef polyproline helix is highly adapted to directly interact with multiple host cell proteins.