Journal of virology vol:88 issue:21 pages:12882-94
Members of the apolipoprotein B mRNA-editing enzyme-catalytic polypeptide-like-3 (APOBEC3) innate cellular cytidine deaminase family, particularly APOBEC3F and APOBEC3G, can cause extensive and lethal G-to-A mutations in HIV-1 plus-strand DNA (termed hypermutation). It is unclear if APOBEC3-induced mutations in vivo are always lethal or can occur at sublethal levels that increase HIV-1 diversification and viral adaptation to the host. The viral accessory protein Vif counteracts APOBEC3 activity by binding to APOBEC3 and promoting proteasome degradation; however, the efficiency of this interaction varies, since a range of hypermutation frequencies are observed in HIV-1 patient DNA. Therefore, we examined "footprints" of APOBEC3G and APOBEC3F activity in longitudinal HIV-1 RNA pol sequences from approximately 3,000 chronically infected patients by determining whether G-to-A mutations occurred in motifs that were favored or disfavored by these deaminases. G-to-A mutations were more frequent in APOBEC3G-disfavored than in APOBEC3G-favored contexts. In contrast, mutations in APOBEC3F-disfavored contexts were relatively rare, whereas mutations in contexts favoring APOBEC3F (and possibly other deaminases) occurred 16% more often than average G-to-A mutations. These results were supported by analyses of >500 HIV-1 env sequences from acute/early infection.