Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) type 1 encodes three genes, Vpu, Env and Nef, that decrease cellular CD4. Vpu and Env act cooperatively to accelerate degradation of CD4 in the endoplasmic reticulum. Here we report that Vpu/Env-induced CD4 degradation is inhibited by lactacystin, a specific inhibitor of the proteasome, and by other proteasome inhibitors, but not by non-proteasome protease inhibitors. We also note that Vpu has amino acid sequence homology with a segment of IkappaB known to be involved in proteasome-mediated degradation, suggesting that HIV-1 could have transduced cellular sequences to enhance down-regulation of CD4.


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