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Differential control of CXCR4 and CD4 downregulation by HIV-1 Gag

Rajeshwari R Valiathan2 and Marilyn D Resh1*

Author Affiliations

1 Cell Biology Program, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, USA and Graduate Program in Biochemistry, Cell and Molecular Biology, Weill Graduate School of Medical Sciences of Cornell University, New York, USA

2 University of Michigan, Life Sciences Institute, Ann Arbor, USA

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Virology Journal 2008, 5:23  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-5-23

Published: 11 February 2008



The ESCRT (endosomal sorting complex required for transport) machinery functions to sort cellular receptors into the lumen of the multivesicular body (MVB) prior to lysosomal degradation. ESCRT components can also be recruited by enveloped viruses to sites of viral assembly where they have been proposed to mediate viral egress. For example, HIV-1 budding is dependent on Gag-mediated recruitment of the cellular ESCRTs-I, -III, AIP1/Alix and Vps4 proteins. Viral recruitment of ESCRT proteins could therefore impact on host cell processes such as receptor downregulation.


Here we show that downregulation of the HIV-1 co-receptor, CXCR4, by its ligand SDF-1, is ESCRT-I dependent. Expression of HIV-1 Gag attenuated downregulation of CXCR4, resulting in accumulation of undegraded receptors within intracellular compartments. The effect of Gag was dependent on an ESCRT-I interacting motif within the C-terminal p6 region of Gag. In contrast, PMA-induced downregulation of the HIV-1 receptor CD4 was independent of ESCRT-I and Vps4; HIV-1 Gag had no effect on this process.


These results establish that the HIV-1 receptor, CD4, and co-receptor, CXCR4 are differentially regulated by ESCRT proteins. HIV-1 Gag selectively modulates protein sorting at the MVB, interfering with ESCRT-I dependent but not ESCRT-I independent processes.