Table of Contents
Molecular Biology International
Volume 2012, Article ID 974924, 11 pages
Review Article

APOBEC3 versus Retroviruses, Immunity versus Invasion: Clash of the Titans

1Department of Biology, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, MA 01610, USA
2Department of Biology, Clark University, 950 Main Street Worcester, MA 01610, USA

Received 26 January 2012; Accepted 1 April 2012

Academic Editor: Abraham Brass

Copyright © 2012 Ann M. Sheehy and Julie Erthal. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Since the identification of APOBEC3G (A3G) as a potent restriction factor of HIV-1, a tremendous amount of effort has led to a broadened understanding of both A3G and the APOBEC3 (A3) family to which it belongs. In spite of the fine-tuned viral counterattack to A3 activity, in the form of the HIV-1 Vif protein, enthusiasm for leveraging the Vif : A3G axis as a point of clinical intervention remains high. In an impressive explosion of information over the last decade, additional A3 family members have been identified as antiviral proteins, mechanistic details of the restrictive capacity of these proteins have been elucidated, structure-function studies have revealed important molecular details of the Vif : A3G interaction, and clinical cohorts have been scrutinized for correlations between A3 expression and function and viral pathogenesis. In the last year, novel and unexpected findings regarding the role of A3G in immunity have refocused efforts on exploring the potential of harnessing the natural power of this immune defense. These most recent reports allude to functions of the A3 proteins that extend beyond their well-characterized designation as restriction factors. The emerging story implicates the A3 family as not only defense proteins, but also as participants in the broader innate immune response.