With the increasing prevalence of HIV-associated neurocognititve disorders (HAND), understanding the mechanisms by which HIV-1 induces neuro-inflammation and subsequent neuronal damage is important. The hallmark features of HIV-encephalitis, the pathological correlate of HIV-associated Dementia (HAD), are gliosis, oxidative stress, chemokine dysregulation, and neuronal damage/death. Since neurons are not infected by HIV-1, the current thinking is that these cells are damaged indirectly by pro-inflammatory chemokines released by activated glial cells. CXCL10 is a neurotoxic chemokine that is up-regulated in astroglia activated by HIV-1 Tat, IFN-γ, and TNF-α. In this study we have demonstrated that HIV-1 Tat increases CXCL10 expression in IFN-γ and TNF-α stimulated human astrocytes via NADPH oxidase. We have shown that the treatment of astrocytes with a mixture of Tat and cytokines leads to a respiratory burst that is abrogated by apocynin, an NADPH oxidase inhibitor. Pre-treatment of Tat, IFN-γ, and TNF-α stimulated astrocytes with apocynin also resulted in concomitant inhibition of CXCL10 expression. Additionally, apocynin was also able to reduce Tat and cytokine-mediated activation of the corresponding signaling molecules Erk1/2, Jnk, and Akt with a decrease in activation and nuclear translocation of NF-κB, important regulators of CXCL10 induction. Understanding the mechanisms involved in reducing both oxidative stress and the release of pro-inflammatory agents could lead to the development of therapeutics aimed at decreasing neuro-inflammation in patients suffering from HAD.
NADPH Oxidase; Astrocytes; HIV-associated Dementia; CXCL10
Neurotoxic viral proteins released from HIV-infected cells are believed to play a major role in the pathogenesis of the dementia displayed in a significant number of AIDS patients. HIV-1 associated neuropathology severely affects dopaminergic regions of the brain. Growing evidence indicates that HIV-1 neurotoxic proteins, such as Tat may affect the function of the dopamine transmission system. In turn, molecular components of dopamine neurotransmission may participate in a complex network of Tat-induced cell responses which result in neurodegeneration. In this study we investigated whether D1 dopamine receptors are involved in the mechanism of Tat neurotoxicity in primary rat neuronal cell cultures. We found that in rat midbrain cell cultures, which express significant levels of D1 dopamine receptors, the specific D1 antagonist SCH 23390 attenuates the cell death caused by HIV-1 Tat. In rat hippocampal cell cultures, where the expression of D1 receptors is low, SCH 23390 did not change the toxicity of Tat. Thus, the protective effect of SCH 23390 in rat primary neuronal cell cultures correlates with the level of D1 receptor protein expression. Our results provide further evidence for the involvement of the dopaminergic transmission system in the mechanism of HIV-1 Tat neurotoxicity.
viral proteins; dopamine receptors; cell culture
Chronic HIV infection leads to the development of cognitive impairments, designated as HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). The secretion of soluble neurotoxic factors by HIV-infected macrophages plays a central role in the neuronal dysfunction and cell death associated with HAND. One potentially neurotoxic protein secreted by HIV-1 infected macrophages is cathepsin B. To explore the potential role of cathepsin B in neuronal cell death after HIV infection, we cultured HIV-1ADA infected human monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM) and assayed them for expression and activity of cathepsin B and its inhibitors, cystatins B and C. The neurotoxic activity of the secreted cathepsin B was determined by incubating cells from the neuronal cell line SK-N-SH with MDM conditioned media (MCM) from HIV-1 infected cultures. We found that HIV-1 infected MDM secreted significantly higher levels of cathepsin B than did uninfected cells. Moreover, the activity of secreted cathepsin B was significantly increased in HIV-infected MDM at the peak of viral production. Incubation of neuronal cells with supernatants from HIV-infected MDM resulted in a significant increase in the numbers of apoptotic neurons, and this increase was reversed by the addition of either the cathepsin B inhibitor CA-074 or a monoclonal antibody to cathepsin B. In situ proximity ligation assays indicated that the increased neurotoxic activity of the cathepsin B secreted by HIV-infected MDM resulted from decreased interactions between the enzyme and its inhibitors, cystatins B and C. Furthermore, preliminary in vivo studies of human post-mortem brain tissue suggested an upregulation of cathepsin B immunoreactivity in the hippocampus and basal ganglia in individuals with HAND. Our results demonstrate that HIV-1 infection upregulates cathepsin B in macrophages, increases cathepsin B activity, and reduces cystatin-cathepsin interactions, contributing to neuronal apoptosis. These findings provide new evidence for the role of cathepsin B in neuronal cell death induced by HIV-infected macrophages.
The vast majority of people living with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) have pain syndrome, which has a significant impact on their quality of life. The underlying causes of HIV-1-associated pain are not likely attributable to direct viral infection of the nervous system due to the lack of evidence of neuronal infection by HIV-1. However, HIV-1 proteins are possibly involved as they have been implicated in neuronal damage and death. The current study assesses the direct effects of HIV-1 Tat, one of potent neurotoxic viral proteins released from HIV-1-infected cells, on the excitability and survival of rat primary dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons. We demonstrated that HIV-1 Tat triggered rapid and sustained enhancement of the excitability of small-diameter rat primary DRG neurons, which was accompanied by marked reductions in the rheobase and resting membrane potential (RMP), and an increase in the resistance at threshold (RTh). Such Tat-induced DRG hyperexcitability may be a consequence of the inhibition of cyclin-dependent kinase 5 (Cdk5) activity. Tat rapidly inhibited Cdk5 kinase activity and mRNA production, and roscovitine, a well-known Cdk5 inhibitor, induced a very similar pattern of DRG hyperexcitability. Indeed, pre-application of Tat prevented roscovitine from having additional effects on the RMP and action potentials (APs) of DRGs. However, Tat-mediated actions on the rheobase and RTh were accelerated by roscovitine. These results suggest that Tat-mediated changes in DRG excitability are partly facilitated by Cdk5 inhibition. In addition, Cdk5 is most abundant in DRG neurons and participates in the regulation of pain signaling. We also demonstrated that HIV-1 Tat markedly induced apoptosis of primary DRG neurons after exposure for longer than 48 h. Together, this work indicates that HIV-1 proteins are capable of producing pain signaling through direct actions on excitability and survival of sensory neurons.
HIV-1 infection causes, with increasing prevalence, neurological disorders characterized in part by neuronal cell death. The HIV-1 protein Tat has been shown to be directly and indirectly neurotoxic. Here, we tested the hypothesis that a non-neurotoxic epitope of Tat can, through actions on immune cells, increase neuronal cell death. Tat1-72 and a mutant Tat1-72 lacking the neurotoxic epitope (TatΔ31-61) concentration-dependently and markedly increased TNF-α production in macrophage-like differentiated human U937 and THP-1 cells, in mouse peritoneal macrophages and in mouse brain microglia. Tat1-72 was but TatΔ31-61 was not neurotoxic when applied directly to neurons. Supernatants from U937 cells treated with either Tat1-72 or TatΔ31-61 were neurotoxic and their immunoneutralization with an anti-TNF-α antibody decreased Tat1-72- and TatΔ31-61-induced neurotoxicity. Together, these results demonstrate that the neurotoxic epitope of Tat1-72 is different from the epitope that is indirectly neurotoxic following production of TNF-α from immune cells, and suggest that therapeutic interventions against TNF-α might be beneficial against HIV-1 associated neurological disorders.
TNF-α; HIV-1; Tat; neurotoxicity; macrophages; microglia; U937 cells; THP-1 cells; inflammation
Excitotoxicity and/or microglial reactivity might underlie neurologic dysfunction in HIV patients. The HIV regulatory protein Tat is both neurotoxic and pro-inflammatory, suggesting that Tat might participate in the pathogenesis of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). The present study was undertaken to evaluate if Tat can increase extracellular glutamate, and was specifically designed to determine the degree to which, and the mechanisms by which Tat could drive microglial glutamate release. Data show that application of Tat to cultured primary microglia caused dose-dependent increases in extracellular glutamate that were exacerbated by morphine, which is known to worsen Tat cytotoxicity. Tat-induced glutamate release was decreased by inhibitors of p38 and p42/44 MAPK, and by inhibitors of NADPH oxidase and the xc− cystine-glutamate antiporter. Furthermore, Tat increased expression of the catalytic subunit of xc− (xCT), but Tat-induced increases in xCT mRNA were not affected by inhibition of NADPH oxidase or xc− activity. Together, these data describe a specific and biologically significant signaling component of the microglial response to Tat, and suggest that excitotoxic neuropathology associated with HIV infection might originate in part with Tat-induced activation of microglial glutamate release.
excitotoxicity; glia; inflammation; morphine; HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders; oxidative stress
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 infection of the CNS produces changes in dendritic morphology that correlate with cognitive decline in patients with HIV-1 associated dementia (HAD). Here we investigated the effects of HIV-1 transactivator of transcription (Tat), a protein released by virus-infected cells, on synapses between hippocampal neurons using an imaging-based assay that quantified clusters of the scaffolding protein postsynaptic density 95 fused to green fluorescent protein (PSD95-GFP). Tat (24 h) decreased the number of PSD95-GFP puncta by 50±7 %. The decrease was concentration-dependent (EC50=6±2 ng/ml) and preceded cell death. Tat acted via the low-density lipoprotein receptor-related protein (LRP) because the specific LRP blocker, receptor associated protein (RAP), prevented the Tat-induced decrease in the number of PSD95-GFP puncta. Ca2+ influx through the NMDA receptor was necessary for Tat-induced synapse loss. Expression of an ubiquitin ligase inhibitor protected synapses, implicating the ubiquitin-proteasome pathway. In contrast to synapse loss, Tat induced cell death (48 h) required activation of nitric oxide synthase. The ubiquitin ligase-inhibitor nutlin-3 prevented synapse loss, but not cell death induced by Tat. Thus, the pathways diverged, consistent with the hypothesis that synapse loss is a mechanism to reduce excess excitatory input rather than a symptom of the neuron’s demise. Furthermore, application of RAP to cultures treated with Tat for 16 hrs reversed synapse loss. These results suggest that the impaired network function and decreased neuronal survival produced by Tat involve distinct mechanisms and that pharmacologic targets, such as LRP, might prove useful in restoring function in HAD patients.
Tat; LRP; PSD95; proteasome; NeuroAIDS; neurotoxicity
Microglia become activated in humans subsequent to infection with HIV, and uncontrolled brain inflammation plays a key role in neuronal injury and and cognitive dysfunction during HIV infection. Various studies have shown a deleterious role for the HIV regulatory protein Tat in the development and maintenance of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND). One cell surface receptor implicated in inhibiting microglial activation is the protein-tyrosine phosphatase (PTP), CD45. It is especially effective at inhibiting microglial activation because its action takes place far upstream from proinflammatory intracellular signaling mediators. To investigate the possible role of CD45 in microglial responsiveness to HIV-1 Tat protein, we treated BV-2 microglia with a tyrosine phosphatase inhibitor [potassium bisperoxo (1, 10-phenanthroline) oxovanadate (phen), 5 μM] and HIV-1 Tat protein (700ng/ml). We found a synergistic pro-inflammatory microglial activation as supported by tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and interleukin 1-beta (IL-1β) release, both of which were dependent on p44/42 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) activation. Stimulation of microglial CD45 by anti-CD45 antibody markedly inhibited these Tat or Tat/Phen effects via attenuation of p44/42 MAPK, suggesting CD45 negatively regulates microglial activation. As a validation of these findings in vivo, brains from transgenic mice deficient for CD45 through complete genetic ablation, or by CNS delivery of CD45shRNA, demonstrate markedly increased production of TNF-α 24 hours after intracerebroventricular injection of HIV-Tat protein (5μg/mouse) compared to control mice. This increased microglial activation was accompanied by astrogliosis and a significant loss of cortical neurons due to apoptosis in CD45 deficient animals. These results suggest therapeutic agents that activate CD45 PTP signaling may be effective in suppressing microglial activation associated with HAND.
HIV; dementia; CD45; microglia; HIV associated neurocognitive disorders
HIV infection of the CNS can result in neurologic dysfunction in a significant number of infected individuals. NeuroAIDS is characterized by neuronal injury and loss, yet there is no evidence of HIV infection in neurons. Thus, neuronal damage and dropout are likely due to indirect effects of HIV infection of other CNS cells, through elaboration of inflammatory factors and neurotoxic viral proteins, including the viral transactivating protein tat. We and others demonstrated that tat induces apoptosis in differentiated mature human neurons. We now demonstrate that the high level of tat toxicity observed in human neurons involves specific developmental stages that correlate with N-Methyl-D-Aspartate receptor (NMDAR) expression, and that tat toxicity is also dependent upon the species being analyzed. Our results indicate that tat treatment of primary cultures of differentiated human neurons with significant amounts of NMDAR expression induces extensive apoptosis. In contrast, tat treatment induces only low levels of apoptosis in primary cultures of immature human neurons with low or minimal expression of NMDAR. In addition, tat treatment has minimal effect on rat hippocampal neurons in culture, despite their high expression of NMDAR. We propose that this difference may be due to low expression of the NR2A subunit. These findings are important for an understanding of the many differences among tissue culture systems and species used to study HIV-tat-mediated toxicity.
HIV-1; NeuroAIDS; Glutamate; NMDA; Dementia; HAND
The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) trans-activator of transcription protein Tat is an important factor in viral pathogenesis. In addition to its function as the key trans-activator of viral transcription, Tat is also secreted by the infected cell and taken up by neighboring cells where it has an effect both on infected and uninfected cells. In this review we will focus on the relationship between the structure of the Tat protein and its function as a secreted factor. To this end we will summarize some of the exogenous functions of Tat that have been implicated in HIV-1 pathogenesis and the impact of structural variations and viral subtype variants of Tat on those functions. Finally, since in some patients the presence of Tat-specific antibodies or CTL frequencies are associated with slow or non-progression to AIDS, we will also discuss the role of Tat as a potential vaccine candidate, the advances made in this field, and the importance of using a Tat protein capable of eliciting a protective or therapeutic immune response to viral challenge.
The HIV-1 protein, Tat has been implicated in AIDS pathogenesis however, the amount of circulating Tat is believed to be very low and its quantification has been difficult. We performed the quantification of Tat released from infected cells and taken up by neurons using high performance capillary electrophoresis. This is the first report to successfully measure the amount of Tat in neurons and places Tat as a key player involved in HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus-1 (HIV-1)-associated neurocognitive disorder (HAND) is likely neuroinflammatory in origin, believed to be triggered by inflammatory and oxidative stress responses to cytokines and HIV protein gene products such as the HIV transactivator of transcription (Tat). Here we demonstrate increased messenger RNA for nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) family member, transcription factor RelB, in the brain of doxycycline-induced Tat transgenic mice, and increased RelB synthesis in Tat-exposed microglial cells. Since genetic ablation of RelB in mice leads to multi-organ inflammation, we hypothesized that Tat-induced, newly synthesized RelB inhibits cytokine production by microglial cells, possibly through the formation of transcriptionally inactive RelB/RelA complexes. Indeed, tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNFα) production in monocytes isolated from RelB deficient mice was significantly higher than in monocytes isolated from RelB expressing controls. Moreover, RelB overexpression in microglial cells inhibited Tat-induced TNFα synthesis in a manner that involved transcriptional repression of the TNFα promoter, and increased phosphorylation of RelA at serine 276, a prerequisite for increased RelB/RelA protein interactions. The Rel-homology-domain within RelB was necessary for this interaction. Overexpression of RelA itself, in turn, significantly increased TNFα promoter activity, an effect that was completely blocked by RelB overexpression. We conclude that RelB regulates TNFα cytokine synthesis by competitive interference binding with RelA, which leads to downregulation of TNFα production. Moreover, because Tat activates both RelB and TNFα in microglia, and because Tat induces inflammatory TNFα synthesis via NF-κB, we posit that RelB serves as a cryoprotective, anti-inflammatory, counter-regulatory mechanism for pathogenic NF-κB activation. These findings identify a novel regulatory pathway for controlling HIV-induced microglial activation and cytokine production that may have important therapeutic implications for the management of HAND.
The intestinal mucosa is an important target of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. HIV virus induces CD4+ T cell loss and epithelial damage which results in increased intestinal permeability. The mechanisms involved in nutrient malabsorption and alterations of intestinal mucosal architecture are unknown. We previously demonstrated that HIV-1 transactivator factor (Tat) induces an enterotoxic effect on intestinal epithelial cells that could be responsible for HIV-associated diarrhea. Since oxidative stress is implicated in the pathogenesis and morbidity of HIV infection, we evaluated whether Tat induces apoptosis of human enterocytes through oxidative stress, and whether the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC) could prevent it. Caco-2 and HT29 cells or human intestinal mucosa specimens were exposed to Tat alone or combined with NAC. In an in-vitro cell model, Tat increased the generation of reactive oxygen species and decreased antioxidant defenses as judged by a reduction in catalase activity and a reduced (GSH)/oxidized (GSSG) glutathione ratio. Tat also induced cytochrome c release from mitochondria to cytosol, and caspase-3 activation. Rectal dialysis samples from HIV-infected patients were positive for the oxidative stress marker 8-hydroxy-2′-deoxyguanosine. GSH/GSSG imbalance and apoptosis occurred in jejunal specimens from HIV-positive patients at baseline and from HIV-negative specimens exposed to Tat. Experiments with neutralizing anti-Tat antibodies showed that these effects were direct and specific. Pre-treatment with NAC prevented Tat-induced apoptosis and restored the glutathione balance in both the in-vitro and the ex-vivo model. These findings indicate that oxidative stress is one of the mechanism involved in HIV-intestinal disease.
HIV-associated neurological disorders (HAND) are estimated to affect 60% of the HIV infected population. HIV-encephalitis (HIVE), the pathological correlate of the most severe form of HAND is often characterized by glial activation, cytokine/chemokine dysregulation, and neuronal damage and loss. However, the severity of HIVE correlates better with glial activation rather than viral load. One of the characteristic features of HIVE is the increased amount of the neurotoxic chemokine, CXCL10. This chemokine can be released from astroglia activated with the pro-inflammatory cytokines IFN-γ and TNF-α, in conjunction with HIV-1 Tat, all of which are elevated in HIVE. In an effort to understand the pathogenesis of HAND, this study was aimed at exploring the regulation of CXCL10 by cellular and viral factors during astrocyte activation. Specifically, the data herein demonstrate that the combined actions of HIV-1 Tat and the pro-inflammatory cytokines, IFN-γ and TNF-α, result in the induction of CXCL10 at both the RNA and protein level. Furthermore, CXCL10 induction was found to be regulated transcriptionally by the activation of the p38, Jnk, and Akt signaling pathways and their downstream transcription factors, NF-κB and STAT-1α. Since CXCL10 levels are linked to disease severity, understanding its regulation could aid in the development of therapeutic intervention strategies for HAND.
HIV-1 viral protein Tat partially mediates the neural dysfunction and neuronal cell death associated with HIV-1 induced neurodegeneration and neurocognitive disorders. Soy isoflavones provide protection against various neurotoxic insults to maintain neuronal function and thus help preserve neurocognitive capacity.
We demonstrate in primary cortical cell cultures that 17β-estradiol or isoflavones (genistein or daidzein) attenuate Tat1–86-induced expression of apoptotic proteins and subsequent cell death. Exposure of cultured neurons to the estrogen receptor antagonist ICI 182,780 abolished the anti-apoptotic actions of isoflavones. Use of ERα or ERβ specific antagonists determined the involvement of both ER isoforms in genistein and daidzein inhibition of caspase activity; ERβ selectively mediated downregulation of mitochondrial pro-apoptotic protein Bax. The findings suggest soy isoflavones effectively diminished HIV-1 Tat-induced apoptotic signaling.
Collectively, our results suggest that soy isoflavones represent an adjunctive therapeutic option with combination anti-retroviral therapy (cART) to preserve neuronal functioning and sustain neurocognitive abilities of HIV-1 infected persons.
HIV-Encephalopathy (HIVE) is a common neurological disorder associated with HIV-1 infection and AIDS. The activity of the HIV trans-activating protein Tat is thought to contribute to neuronal pathogenesis. While Tat proteins from primary virus isolates consist of 101 or more amino acids, 72 and 86 amino acids forms of Tat are commonly used for in vitro studies. Although Tat72 contains the minimal domain required for viral replication, other activities of Tat appear to vary according to its length, sub-cellular localization, cell type and the stage of cellular differentiation. In this study, we investigated the stability of intracellular Tat101 during proliferation and differentiation of neuronal cells in culture. We have utilized rat neuronal progenitors as a model of neuronal cell proliferation and differentiation, as well as rat primary cortical neurons as a model of fully differentiated cells. Our results indicate that, upon internalization, Tat101 was degraded more rapidly in proliferating cells than in cells which either underwent neuronal differentiation or were fully differentiated. Intracellular degradation of Tat was prevented by the calpain 1 inhibitor, ALLN, in both proliferating and differentiated cells. Inhibition of calpain 1 by calpastatin peptide also prevented Tat cleavage. In vitro calpain digestion and mass spectrometry analysis further demonstrated that the sequence of Tat sensitive to calpain cleavage was located in the C-terminus of this viral protein, between amino acids 68 and 69. Moreover, cleavage of Tat101 by calpain 1 increased neurotoxic effect of this viral protein and presence of the calpain inhibitor protected neuronal cells from Tat-mediated toxicity.
HIV-Tat; neurotoxicity; calpain
HIV-associated neurologic disease (HAND) still causes significant morbidity, despite success reducing viral loads with combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). The dopamine (DA) system is particularly vulnerable in HAND. We hypothesize that early, “reversible” DAergic synaptic dysfunction occurs long before DAergic neuron loss. As such, aging HIV-infected individuals may be vulnerable to other age-related neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s Disease (PD), underscoring the need to understand shared molecular targets in HAND and PD. Previously we reported that the neurotoxic HIV-1 transactivating factor (Tat) acutely disrupts mitochondrial and endoplasmic reticulum calcium homeostasis via ryanodine receptor (RyR) activation. Here we further report that Tat disrupts DA transporter (DAT) activity and function, resulting in increased plasma membrane (PM) DAT and increased DAT Vmax, without changes in Km or total DAT protein. Tat also increases calpain protease activity at the PM, demonstrated by TIRF microscopy of a cleavable fluorescent calpain substrate. Tat-increased PM DAT and calpain activity are blocked by the RyR antagonists ryanodine and dantrolene, the calpain inhibitor calpastatin, and by a specific inhibitor of GSK-3β. We conclude that Tat activates RyRs via a calcium and calpain mediated mechanism that upregulates DAT trafficking to the PM, and is independent of DAT protein synthesis, reinforcing the feasibility of RyR and GSK-3β inhibition as clinical therapeutic approaches for HAND. Finally we provide key translational relevance for these findings by highlighting published human data of increased DAT levels in striata of HAND patients, and demonstrating similar findings in Tat-expressing transgenic mice.
HIV; AIDS; brain; dopamine; transporter; Tat
Apoptosis contributes to the loss of CD4 cells during human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection. Although the product of the env gene, gp160/gp120, is known to play a role in cell death mediated by HIV-1, the role of other HIV-1 genes in the process is unclear. We found that HIV-1 lacking the env gene (HIVΔenv) still induced apoptosis in T-cell lines and primary CD4 T cells. The ability to induce apoptosis was attributable to Tat, a viral regulatory protein. Tat induction of apoptosis was separate from the transactivation function of Tat, required expression of the second exon of Tat, and was associated with the increased expression and activity of caspase-8 (casp-8), a signaling molecule in apoptotic pathways. Moreover, induction of apoptosis could be prevented by treating cells with an inhibitor of casp-8. In addition, we show that HIV-1Δenv infection and Tat expression increased the sensitivity of cells to Fas-mediated apoptosis, an apoptotic pathway that signals via casp-8. The up-regulation of casp-8 by HIV-1 Tat expression may contribute to the increased apoptosis and sensitivity to apoptotic signals observed in the cells of HIV-1-infected persons.
HIV-1 proteins, including the transactivator of transcription (Tat), are believed to be involved in HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders by disrupting Ca2+ homeostasis, which leads to progressive dysregulation, damage, or death of neurons in the brain. We have found previously that bath-applied Tat abnormally increased Ca2+ influx through overactivated, voltage-sensitive L-type Ca2+ channels in pyramidal neurons within the rat medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC). However, it is unknown whether the Tat-induced Ca2+ dysregulation was mediated by increased activity and/or the number of the L-channels. This study tested the hypothesis that transient/early exposure to Tat in vivo promoted enduring L-channel dysregulation in the mPFC without neuron loss. Accordingly, rats were administered a single intracerebroventricular injection of recombinant Tat (80 µg/20 µl; diluted by cerebrospinal fluids to pathophysiological concentrations) or vehicle. Rats were killed 14 days after injection for immunohistochemical assessments of the mPFC, motor cortex, caudate–putamen, and nucleus accumbens. Stereological estimates for positively stained cells indicated a significant increase in the number of cells expressing the pore-forming Cav1.2-α1c subunit of L-channels in the mPFC compared with other regions in Tat-treated or vehicle-treated rat brains. Optical density measurements showed a Tat-induced increase in glial fibrillary acidic protein expression, indicating astrogliosis in the cortical regions. There was no significant loss of neurons in any brain region investigated. These findings indicate that transient Tat exposure in vivo induced enduring L-channel dysregulation and astrogliosis in the mPFC without neuron loss. Such maladaptations may contribute toward dysregulated Ca2+ homeostasis and neuropathology in the PFC in the early stages of HIV infection.
astrogliosis; L-type Ca2+ channels; medial prefrontal cortex; neuroAIDS
Soluble proteins of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) might play a significant role in the pathogenesis of HIV infection. The addition of synthetic Tat peptides, but not that of the recombinant Nef or Vif protein, inhibited proliferative responses of CD4+ tetanus antigen-specific, exogenous interleukin-2 (IL-2)-independent T-cell clones in a dose-dependent manner. In addition, Tat peptides inhibited the anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody-induced proliferative responses of both purified CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. Tat did not affect proliferative responses induced by phorbol myristate acetate plus ionomycin. The Tat peptides at the concentrations used (0.1 to 3 micrograms/ml) did not affect the viability of the cells as determined by trypan blue exclusion. Treatment of Tat peptides with polyclonal Tat antibodies abrogated the inhibitory effect of Tat. Soluble Tat proteins secreted by HeLa cells transfected with the tat gene also inhibited antigen-induced proliferation of the T-cell clones. Tat inhibited the anti-CD3 monoclonal antibody-induced IL-2 mRNA expression and IL-2 secretion but did not affect IL-2 receptor alpha-chain mRNA or protein expression on peripheral blood T cells. Finally, treatment of T-cell clones with the Tat peptide did not affect the antigen-induced increase in intracellular calcium, hydrolysis of phosphatidyl inositol to inositol trisphosphate, or translocation of protein kinase C from the cytosol to the membrane. These studies demonstrate that the mechanism of the Tat-mediated inhibition of T-cell functions involves a phospholipase C gamma 1-independent pathway.
HIV-associated dementia (HAD) is the most common AIDS-associated neurological disorder and is characterized by the development of synaptodendritic injury to neurons. To advance HAD therapy, it is crucial to identify the mechanisms and factors involved. The viral protein HIV-1 Tat is among those factors and is released by HIV-1-infected cells and can be taken up by adjacent neuronal cells leading to neurotoxic effects. Multiple cellular host proteins have been identified as Tat cofactors in causing neuronal injury. Interestingly, most of these factors function through activation of the p53 pathway. We have now examined the ability of Tat to activate the p53 pathway leading to the induction of endogenous p53 and p73 in neuronal cells. We found that Tat induced p53 and p73 levels in SH-SY5Y cells and that this induction caused retraction of neurites. In the absence of either p53 or p73, Tat failed to induce dendritic retraction or to activate the proapoptotic proteins, such as Bax. Further, we found that p53-accumulation in Tat-treated cells depends on the presence of p73. Therefore, we conclude that Tat contributes to neuronal degeneration through activation of a pathway involving p53 and p73. This information will be valuable for the development of therapeutic agents that affect these pathways to protect CNS neurons and prevent HAD.
HIV-1 Tat; neuronal degeneration; p53; apoptosis; p73; phosphorylation; HIV-associated dementia (HAD)
The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) promoter or long-terminal repeat (LTR) regulates viral gene expression by interacting with multiple viral and host factors. The viral transactivator protein Tat plays an important role in transcriptional activation of HIV-1 gene expression. Functional domains of Tat and its interaction with transactivation response element RNA and cellular transcription factors have been examined. Genetic variation within tat of different HIV-1 subtypes has been shown to affect the interaction of the viral transactivator with cellular and/or viral proteins, influencing the overall level of transcriptional activation as well as its action as a neurotoxic protein. Consequently, the genetic variability within tat may impact the molecular architecture of functional domains of the Tat protein that may impact HIV pathogenesis and disease. Tat as a therapeutic target for anti-HIV drugs has also been discussed.
MicroRNAs (miRs) are short endogenous RNAs that regulate gene expression by incomplete pairing with messenger RNAs. An increasing number of studies show that mammalian microRNAs play fundamental roles in various aspects of cellular function including differentiation, proliferation, and cell death. Recent findings demonstrating the presence of microRNAs in mature neuronal dendrites suggest their possible involvement in controlling local protein translation and synaptic function. HIV-1 Encephalopathy (HIVE) is a manifestation of HIV-1 infection that often results in neuronal damage and dysfunction. While neurons are rarely, if ever, infected by HIV-1, they are exposed to cytotoxic viral and cellular factors including the HIV-1 transactivating factor Tat. In this study, we show that Tat deregulates expression levels of selected microRNAs, including the neuronal mir-128, in primary cortical neurons. We further show that mir-128a inhibits expression of the pre-synaptic protein SNAP25, whereas the anti-mir-128a partially restores Tat/mir-128a-induced downregulation of SNAP25 expression. Altogether, our data provide a novel mechanism by which HIV-Tat perturbs neuronal activity.
Neuronal damage is a hallmark feature of HIV-associated neurological disorders (HANDs). Opiate drug abuse accelerates the incidence and progression of HAND; however, the mechanisms underlying the potentiation of neuropathogenesis by these drugs remain elusive. Opiates such as morphine have been shown to enhance HIV transactivation protein Tat-mediated toxicity in both human neurons and neuroblastoma cells. In the present study, we demonstrate reduced expression of the tropic factor platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-B with a concomitant increase in miR-29b in the basal ganglia region of the brains of morphine-dependent simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected macaques compared with the SIV-infected controls. In vitro relevance of these findings was corroborated in cultures of astrocytes exposed to morphine and HIV Tat that led to increased release of miR-29b in exosomes. Subsequent treatment of neuronal SH-SY5Y cell line with exosomes from treated astrocytes resulted in decreased expression of PDGF-B, with a concomitant decrease in viability of neurons. Furthermore, it was shown that PDGF-B was a target for miR-29b as evidenced by the fact that binding of miR-29 to the 3′-untranslated region of PDGF-B mRNA resulted in its translational repression in SH-SY5Y cells. Understanding the regulation of PDGF-B expression may provide insights into the development of potential therapeutic targets for neuronal loss in HIV-1-infected opiate abusers.
HAND; morphine; miRNA; PDGF-B; neuronal dysfunction
The neuropathological abnormalities of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 patients abusing illicit drugs suggest extensive interactions between the two agents, thereby leading to increased rate of progression to neurodegeneration. The role of HIV-1 transactivating protein, Tat has been elucidated in mediating neuronal damage via apoptosis, a hallmark of HIV-associated dementia (HAD), however the underlying mechanisms involved in enhanced neurodegeneration by illicit drugs remain elusive. In this study, we demonstrated that morphine enhances HIV-Tat induced toxicity in human neurons and neuroblastoma cells. Enhanced toxicity by Tat and morphine was accompanied by increased numbers of TUNEL positive apoptotic neurons, elevated caspase-3 levels and decreased ratio of anti- and pro-apoptotic proteins, Bcl2/Bax. Tat and morphine together elicited high levels of reactive oxygen species that were NADPH dependent. Significant alterations in mitochondrial membrane homeostasis were also observed with co-exposure of these agents. Extensive studies of mitogen activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathways revealed the involvement of c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) and extracellular signal-regulated kinase-1/2 (ERK1/2) pathways in enhanced toxicity of Tat and morphine. In addition to this, we found that pre-treatment of cells with platelet derived growth factor (PDGF-BB) protected neurons from HIV-Tat and morphine induced damage. PDGF-BB alleviated ROS production, maintained mitochondrial membrane potential, decreased caspase-3 activation and hence protected the cells from undergoing apoptosis. PDGF-BB mediated protection against Tat and morphine involved the phosphatidylinositol–3 kinase (PI3K) pathway, as specific inhibitor of PI3K abrogated the protection conferred by PDGF-BB. This study demonstrates the mechanism of enhanced toxicity in human neurons subjected to co-exposure of HIV protein Tat and morphine, thus implying its importance in HIV positive drug abusers, where damage to the brain is reported to be more severe than non-drug abusers. We have also showed for the first time that PDGF-BB can protect against simultaneous exposure of Tat and morphine, strengthening its role as a neuroprotective agent that could be considered for therapeutic intervention.