APOBEC3B lysine residues are dispensable for DNA cytosine deamination, HIV-1 restriction, and nuclear localization

Molan A.M., Hanson H.M., Chweya C.M., Anderson B.D., Starrett G.J., Richards C.M., & Harris R.S.


The APOBEC3 DNA cytosine deaminase family comprises a fundamental arm of the innate immune response and is best known for retrovirus restriction. Several APOBEC3 enzymes restrict HIV-1 and related retroviruses by deaminating viral cDNA cytosines to uracils compromising viral genomes. Human APOBEC3B (A3B) shows strong virus restriction activities in a variety of experimental systems, and is subjected to tight post-translational regulation evidenced by cell-specific HIV-1 restriction activity and active nuclear import. Here we ask whether lysines and/or lysine post-translational modifications are required for these A3B activities. A lysine-free derivative of human A3B was constructed and shown to be indistinguishable from the wild-type enzyme in DNA cytosine deamination, HIV-1 restriction, and nuclear localization activities. However, lysine loss did render the protein resistant to degradation by SIV Vif. Taken together, we conclude that lysine side chains and modifications thereof are unlikely to be central to A3B function or regulation in human cells.