HIV-1 Nef pirates PACS-1 and PACS-2 to downregulate MHC-I, but little is known about the Nef–PACS interaction. The sites on Nef and the PACS proteins required for their interaction are identified, and their importance for Nef trafficking and Nef-induced MHC-I downregulation is discussed. The results provide insight into the molecular basis of Nef action.
The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) accessory protein Nef directs virus escape from immune surveillance by subverting host cell intracellular signaling and membrane traffic to down-regulate cell-surface major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I). The interaction of Nef with the sorting proteins PACS-1 and PACS-2 mediates key signaling and trafficking steps required for Nef-mediated MHC-I down-regulation. Little is known, however, about the molecular basis underlying the Nef–PACS interaction. Here we identify the sites on Nef and the PACS proteins required for their interaction and describe the consequences of disrupting this interaction for Nef action. A previously unidentified cargo subsite on PACS-1 and PACS-2 interacted with a bipartite site on Nef formed by the EEEE 65 acidic cluster on the N-terminal domain and W 113 in the core domain. Mutation of these sites prevented the interaction between Nef and the PACS proteins on Rab5 (PACS-2 and PACS-1)- or Rab7 (PACS-1)-positive endosomes as determined by bimolecular fluorescence complementation and caused a Nef mutant defective in PACS binding to localize to distorted endosomal compartments. Consequently, disruption of the Nef–PACS interaction repressed Nef-induced MHC-I down-regulation in peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Our results provide insight into the molecular basis of Nef action and suggest new strategies to combat HIV-1.