Scientific reports 2017 03 077(1) 87 doi 10.1038/s41598-017-00222-8
Functional studies of HIV-1 proteins are normally conducted using lab adapted strains of HIV-1. The extent of those functions in clinical strains is sometimes unknown. In this study, we amplified and sequenced HIV-1 Vpu from 10 Iranian patients infected with HIV-1. Phylogenetic analysis indicated that the Vpu alleles were closely related to the CRF35_AD from Iran and subtype A Vpu. We addressed some of the well-established functions of the HIV-1 Vpu, as well as some of its recently reported functions. Ability of the clinical strains of subtype A Vpu alleles for downregulation of CD4 was similar to that of the lab adapted NL4.3 Vpu. Majority of the subtype A Vpu alleles performed stronger than NL4.3 Vpu for downregulation of SNAT1. The Vpu alleles differentially induced downregulation of HLA-C, ranging from no effect to 88% downregulation of surface HLA-C. Downregulation of tetherin and enhancement of virus release was similar for the subtype A Vpu alleles and NL4.3. Subtype A Vpu alleles were more potent when compared with NL4.3 for inhibition of NF-κB activation. Our study shows that subtype A Vpu alleles exert the classical functions of HIV-1 Vpu.