A novel gene of HIV-1, vpu, and its 16-kilodalton product

Science  02 Sep 1988:
Vol. 241, Issue 4870, pp. 1221-1223
DOI: 10.1126/science.3261888


A 16-kilodalton protein expressed in cells producing the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) was identified as the gene product of the vpu open reading frame. When expressed in vitro, the 81-amino acid vpu protein reacted with about one-third of the serum samples from AIDS patients that were tested, indicating that the vpu open reading frame is expressed in vivo as well. Introduction of a frame-shift mutation into the vpu open reading frame did not significantly interfere with expression of the major viral proteins in a transient expression system. However, a five- to tenfold reduction in progeny virions was observed after the infection of T lymphocytes with the mutant virus. These data suggest that the vpu gene product is required for efficient virus replication and may have a role in assembly or maturation of progeny virions.

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