The gene (viral infectivity factor) of the human and simian immunodeficiency viruses (HIV and SIV) is present in almost all members of the lentivirus group of retroviruses. This gene is highly conserved among different HIV and SIV isolates and is therefore presumed to play an important role in pathogenesis. To analyse the role of Vif in SIV, three SIVmac mutants have been constructed by introducing site-specific mutations or deletions into of the pathogenic molecular clone SIVmac239. The effect of Vif on viral replication in T cells was examined by transfecting equal amounts of either -positive or -negative viral DNA into SupT1, CEM-SS and H9 cells. Reverse transcriptase assay of supernatants from transfected cultures revealed that both SupT1 and CEM-SS cell lines supported replication of all three mutants to a level comparable to the parental -positive virus, whereas mutants did not replicate in H9 cells. Our results demonstrate that the requirement for Vif in SIVmac replication is cell-type dependent and that sequences near both the N and C termini are required for its function. Vif-defective SIVmac239, produced in transfected SupT1 and CEM-SS cells, failed to infect primary T lymphocytes, whereas both -positive and -defective viruses established productive infection in CEMx174 cells. These findings in primary cells suggest that Vif plays an important role in viral replication .


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