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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

HIV-1 Accessory Protein Vpr: Relevance in the pathogenesis of HIV and potential for therapeutic intervention

Michael Kogan and Jay Rappaport*

Author Affiliations

Department of Neuroscience, Department of Neuroscience, Center for Neurovirology, Temple University School of Medicine, 3500 North Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19140, USA

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Retrovirology 2011, 8:25  doi:10.1186/1742-4690-8-25

Published: 13 April 2011

Abstract

The HIV protein, Vpr, is a multifunctional accessory protein critical for efficient viral infection of target CD4+ T cells and macrophages. Vpr is incorporated into virions and functions to transport the preintegration complex into the nucleus where the process of viral integration into the host genome is completed. This action is particularly important in macrophages, which as a result of their terminal differentiation and non-proliferative status, would be otherwise more refractory to HIV infection. Vpr has several other critical functions including activation of HIV-1 LTR transcription, cell-cycle arrest due to DCAF-1 binding, and both direct and indirect contributions to T-cell dysfunction. The interactions of Vpr with molecular pathways in the context of macrophages, on the other hand, support accumulation of a persistent reservoir of HIV infection in cells of the myeloid lineage. The role of Vpr in the virus life cycle, as well as its effects on immune cells, appears to play an important role in the immune pathogenesis of AIDS and the development of HIV induced end-organ disease. In view of the pivotal functions of Vpr in virus infection, replication, and persistence of infection, this protein represents an attractive target for therapeutic intervention.