Major transcriptional control elements are located within the U3 region of the long terminal repeats (LTRs) of lentivirus and other retroviral genomes. The nef auxiliary gene of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) and human immunodeficiency virus overlaps about 70% of the 450- to 560-bp-long U3 region present in these primate lentiviruses. We analyzed viral DNA sequences present in rhesus monkeys infected with a mutant of SIVmac containing a 182- bp deletion in the region of nef that does not overlap the LTR. Between 50 and 100% of the viral DNA molecules in eight of nine monkeys infected for 16 or more months contained additional deletions of 111 to 302 bp within the 517-bp U3 region. These deletions were contained within a 334-bp region of U3 that is overlapped by the nef reading frame, and they did not affect the polypurine tract, the NF-κB binding site, or other sequence elements in this same region that are important for transcription and replication. Such deletions were not detected in any of 41 PCR amplifications from 8 rhesus monkeys infected with wild-type SIV for 8 to 26 months, nor were they detected in 10 animals infected with vpr, vpx or vpr-vpx deletion mutants. These results indicate that, in the absence of an intact nef gene, these upstream U3 sequences are not advantageous for the virus.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science