HIV-1; Nef; pathogenesis; signal transduction
HIV-1 has at its disposal numerous proteins encoded by its genome which provide the required arsenal to establish and maintain infection in its host for a considerable number of years. One of the most important and enigmatic of these proteins is Nef. The Nef protein of HIV-1 plays a fundamental role in the virus life cycle. This small protein of approximately 27 kDa is required for maximal virus replication and disease progression. The mechanisms by which it is able to act as a positive factor during virus replication is an area of intense research and although some controversy surrounds Nef much has been gauged as to how it functions. Its ability to modulate the expression of key cellular receptors important for cell activation and control signal transduction elements and events by interacting with numerous cellular kinases and signalling molecules, including members of the Src family kinases, leading to an effect on host cell function is likely to explain at least in part its role during infection and represents a finely tuned mechanism where this protein assists HIV-1 to control its host.