The Nef protein of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) is dispensable for replication in established T-cell lines but essential for high level virus replication in the adult host, though the mechanism by which Nef contributes to this has remained unclear. We demonstrate here that SIV Nef binds to the zeta chain of the T-cell receptor (TCR). SIV Nef proteins that interact with TCR zeta in a yeast two-hybrid system also reduce T-cell surface expression levels of TCR alphabeta, CD3 and CD4. These findings are the first demonstration that Nef can bind directly to a component of the TCR-CD3 complex and modulate its surface expression.


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