Defensive arts: intracellular innate immunity against retroelements

Priscilla Turelli, Bastien Mangeat, Stéphanie Jost, Shunyo Liao, Sandrine Vianin, Didier Trono, Department of Genetics and Microbiology, faculty of Medicine, University of Geneva (Switzerland)

Background: HIV persistence reflects the virus ability to overcome innate antiviral responses and to rapidly evolve under selective pressure. Editing of the HIV-1 viral DNA by the cytidine deaminase APOBEC3G should prevent HIV spread and persistence, but it is countered by the viral Vif protein. Furthermore, it likely contributes to HIV-1 genetic variability.

Material & Methods: Using a combination of virological and biochemical techniques, we examined the ability of APOBEC3G to act on a series of retroelements, and mapped the determinants of Its Vif sensitivity.

Results: We found that APOBEC3G can not only act on a series of retroviruses, but also on hepatitis B virus. Furthermore, we delineated a region of APOBEC3G critical for its blockade by Vif.

Conclusions: These results advance our understanding of innate antiviral immunity and suggest new avenues for the treatment of persistent viral infections..