Predicting the impact of blocking human immunodeficiency virus type 1 Nef in vivo.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of virology, Volume 83, Issue 5, p.2349-56 (2009)


2009, Epitopes, T-Lymphocyte, Histocompatibility Antigens Class I, HIV-1, Humans, Models, Biological, nef Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus, T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic, Vaccine and Infectious Disease Institute, Virus Replication


Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Nef is a multifunctional protein that confers an ability to evade killing by cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) as well as other advantages to the virus in vivo. Here we exploited mathematical modeling and related statistical methods to estimate the impact of Nef activity on viral replication in vivo in relation to CTLs. Our results indicate that downregulation of major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I) A and B by wild-type Nef confers an advantage to the virus of about 82% in decreased CTL killing efficiency on average, meaning that abolishing the MHC-I downregulation function of Nef would increase killing by more than fivefold. We incorporated this estimate, as well as prior estimates of replicative enhancement by Nef, into a previously published model of HIV-1 and CTLs in vivo (W. D. Wick, O. O. Yang, L. Corey, and S. G. Self, J. Virol. 79:13579-13586, 2005), generalized to permit CTL recognition of multiple epitopes. A sequence database analysis revealed that 92.9% of HIV-1 epitopes are A or B restricted, and a previous study found an average of about 19 epitopes recognized (M. M. Addo et al., J. Virol. 77:2081-2092, 2003). We combined these estimates in the model in order to predict the impact of inhibiting Nef function in the general (chronically infected) population by a drug. The predicted impact on viral load ranged from negligible to 2.4 orders of magnitude, depending on the effects of the drug and the CTL dynamical scenario assumed. We conclude that inhibiting Nef could make a substantial reduction in disease burden, lengthening the time before the necessity of undertaking combination therapy with other antiretroviral drugs.