Vpu-mediated degradation of CD4 reconstituted in yeast reveals mechanistic differences to cellular ER-associated protein degradation


  • B. Meusser
  • T. Sommer


  • Molecular Cell


  • Mol Cell 14 (2): 247-258


  • In HIV infected cells, the plasma membrane protein CD4 is removed from the secretory pathway by proteasomal digestion. This crucial step of viral infection occurs at the endoplasmic reticulum and is triggered by the HIV encoded protein Vpu. Here we show that this process can be recapitulated in baker's yeast. The analysis in the yeast system revealed that Vpu-induced breakdown of CD4 occurs independently of the cellular ER-associated protein degradation system. Moreover, our system allows direct comparison between Vpu-mediated turnover and cellular ER-associated protein degradation of CD4. This analysis suggests fundamental mechanistic differences between both pathways: Vpu-induced turnover strictly relies on ubiquitination of CD4 at cytosolic lysine residues prior to export of the substrate from the membrane. In contrast, the cellular ER-associated protein degradation pathway can transport ER-lumenal parts of CD4 into the cytoplasm before ubiquitination and extraction of the membrane anchor.