Summary: To investigate the role of vpr (viral protein R) in the replication and cytopathicity of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), infectious proviruses were constructed that were isogenic except for the ability to produce the protein product of vpr. The experiments described here demonstrate that vpr encodes a 96 amino acid 15 kDa protein. The vpr product increases the rate of replication and accelerates the cytopathic effect of the virus in T cells. Vpr acts in trans to increase levels of viral protein expression. The stimulatory effect of vpr is observed to act on the HIV-1 LTR as well as on several heterologous promoters.
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