Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) productively infects only humans and chimpanzees, but not Old World monkeys, such as rhesus and cynomolgus (CM) monkeys. To establish a monkey model of HIV-1/AIDS, several HIV-1 derivatives have been constructed. We previously generated a simian-tropic HIV-1 that replicates efficiently in CM cells. This virus encodes a capsid protein (CA) with SIVmac239-derived loops between α-helices 4 and 5 (L4/5) and between α-helices 6 and 7 (L6/7), along with the entire vif from SIVmac239 (NL-4/5S6/7SvifS). These SIVmac239-derived sequences were expected to protect the virus from HIV-1 restriction factors in monkey cells. However, the replicative capability of NL-4/5S6/7SvifS in human cells was severely impaired. By long-term cultivation of human CEM-SS cells infected with NL-4/5S6/7SvifS, we succeeded in partially rescuing the impaired replicative capability of the virus in human cells. This adapted virus encoded a G-to-E substitution at the 116th position of the CA (NL-4/5SG116E6/7SvifS). In the work described here, we explored the mechanism by which the replicative capability of NL-4/5S6/7SvifS was impaired in human cells. Quantitative analysis (by real-time PCR) of viral DNA synthesis from infected cells revealed that NL-4/5S6/7SvifS had a major defect in nuclear entry. Mutations in CA are known to affect viral core stability and result in deleterious effects in HIV-1 infection; therefore, we measured the kinetics of uncoating of these viruses. The uncoating of NL-4/5S6/7SvifS was significantly slower than that of wild type HIV-1 (WT), whereas the uncoating of NL-4/5SG116E6/7SvifS was similar to that of WT. Our results suggested that the lower replicative capability of NL-4/5S6/7SvifS in human cells was, at least in part, due to the slower uncoating of this virus.

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© 2013 The authors. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


HIV-1, viral replication, viral core, virus uncoating, microbial mutation, polymerase chain reaction, substitution mutation, virions

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PloS one