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Int J Biol Sci 2007; 3(5):318-327. doi:10.7150/ijbs.3.318

Review

In search of a function for the most frequent naturally-occurring length polymorphism (MFNLP) of the HIV-1 LTR: Retaining functional coupling, of Nef and RBF-2, at RBEIII?

Mario Clemente Estable

Department of Chemistry and Biology, Ryerson University, 350 Victoria Street, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5B 2K3

Abstract

Although the prototypical HIV-1 LTR sequences were determined 22 years ago from the initial isolate, elucidating which transcription factors are critical to replication in vivo, has been difficult. One approach has been to examine HIV-1 LTRs that have gone through the gamut of in vivo mutation and selection, in search of absolutely conserved sequences. In this vein, RBEIII sequences are virtually 100% conserved in naturally occurring HIV-1 LTRs. This is because when they are mutated, the MFNLP recreates an RBEIII site. Here, I enumerate some retroviral mutation mechanisms, which could generate the MFNLP. I then review the literature corresponding to the MFNLP, highlighting the discovery in 1999, that RBEIII and MFNLP sequences, bind USF and TFII-I cooperatively, within the context of earlier and later work that suggests a role in HIV-1 activation, through T-cell receptor engagement and the MAPK cascade. One exception to the nearly absolute conservation of RBEIII, has been a group of long term non progressors (LTNP). These patients harbor deletions to the Nef gene. However, the Nef gene overlaps with the LTR, and the LTNP deletions abrogate RBEIII, in the absence of an MFNLP. I suggest that the MFNLP retains functional coupling between the MAPK-mediated effects of Nef and the HIV-1 LTR, through RBEIII. I propose that difficult-to-revert-mutations, to either Nef or RBEIII, result in the convergent LTNP Nef/LTR deletions recently observed. The potential exploitation of this highly conserved protein-binding site, for chimeric transcription factor repression (CTFR) of HIV-1, functionally striving to emulate the LTNP deletions, is further discussed.

Keywords: HIV-1 polymorphisms, MFNLP

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How to cite this article:
Estable MC. In search of a function for the most frequent naturally-occurring length polymorphism (MFNLP) of the HIV-1 LTR: Retaining functional coupling, of Nef and RBF-2, at RBEIII?. Int J Biol Sci 2007; 3(5):318-327. doi:10.7150/ijbs.3.318. Available from http://www.ijbs.com/v03p0318.htm