The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) Nef protein is necessary for high viral loads and for timely progression to AIDS. Nef plays a number of roles, but its effect on antigen presentation and immune evasion are among the best characterized. Cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) recognize and lyse virally infected cells by detecting viral antigens in complex with host major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I) molecules on the infected cell surface. The HIV Nef protein disrupts antigen presentation at the cell surface by interfering with the normal trafficking pathway of MHC-I and thus reduces CTL recognition and lysis of infected cells. The molecular mechanism by which Nef causes MHC-I downmodulation is becoming more clear, but some questions remain. A better understanding of how Nef disrupts antigen presentation may lead to the development of drugs that enhance the ability of the anti-HIV CTLs to control HIV disease. © 2011 Elsevier Inc.
Advances in Virus Research, Volume 80, 2011,