The ability of lentiviruses to continually evolve and escape immune control is the central impediment in developing an effective vaccine for HIV-1 and other lentiviruses. Equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV) is considered a useful model for immune control of lentivirus infection. Virus-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL) and broadly neutralizing antibody effectively control EIAV replication during inapparent stages of disease, but after years of low-level replication, the virus is still able to produce evasion genotypes that lead to late re-emergence of disease. There is a high rate of genetic variation in the EIAV surface envelope glycoprotein (SU) and in the region of the transmembrane protein (TM) overlapped by the major exon of Rev. This review examines genetic and phenotypic variation in Rev during EIAV disease and a possible role for Rev in immune evasion and virus persistence.
Keywords: Rev; equine infectious anemia virus; immune evasion; lentivirus; overlapping reading frames; selection.