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1.  Extracellular ATP acts on P2Y2 purinergic receptors to facilitate HIV-1 infection 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2011;208(9):1823-1834.
Contact with HIV-1 envelope protein elicits release of ATP through pannexin-1 channels on target cells; by activating purinergic receptors and Pyk2 kinase in target cells, this extracellular ATP boosts HIV-1 infectivity.
Extracellular adenosine triphosphate (ATP) can activate purinergic receptors of the plasma membrane and modulate multiple cellular functions. We report that ATP is released from HIV-1 target cells through pannexin-1 channels upon interaction between the HIV-1 envelope protein and specific target cell receptors. Extracellular ATP then acts on purinergic receptors, including P2Y2, to activate proline-rich tyrosine kinase 2 (Pyk2) kinase and transient plasma membrane depolarization, which in turn stimulate fusion between Env-expressing membranes and membranes containing CD4 plus appropriate chemokine co-receptors. Inhibition of any of the constituents of this cascade (pannexin-1, ATP, P2Y2, and Pyk2) impairs the replication of HIV-1 mutant viruses that are resistant to conventional antiretroviral agents. Altogether, our results reveal a novel signaling pathway involved in the early steps of HIV-1 infection that may be targeted with new therapeutic approaches.
PMCID: PMC3171090  PMID: 21859844
2.  Critical Involvement of the ATM-Dependent DNA Damage Response in the Apoptotic Demise of HIV-1-Elicited Syncytia 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(6):e2458.
DNA damage can activate the oncosuppressor protein ataxia telangiectasia mutated (ATM), which phosphorylates the histone H2AX within characteristic DNA damage foci. Here, we show that ATM undergoes an activating phosphorylation in syncytia elicited by the envelope glycoprotein complex (Env) of human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) in vitro. This was accompanied by aggregation of ATM in discrete nuclear foci that also contained phospho-histone H2AX. DNA damage foci containing phosphorylated ATM and H2AX were detectable in syncytia present in the brain or lymph nodes from patients with HIV-1 infection, as well as in a fraction of blood leukocytes, correlating with viral status. Knockdown of ATM or of its obligate activating factor NBS1 (Nijmegen breakage syndrome 1 protein), as well as pharmacological inhibition of ATM with KU-55933, inhibited H2AX phosphorylation and prevented Env-elicited syncytia from undergoing apoptosis. ATM was found indispensable for the activation of MAP kinase p38, which catalyzes the activating phosphorylation of p53 on serine 46, thereby causing p53 dependent apoptosis. Both wild type HIV-1 and an HIV-1 mutant lacking integrase activity induced syncytial apoptosis, which could be suppressed by inhibiting ATM. HIV-1-infected T lymphoblasts from patients with inactivating ATM or NBS1 mutations also exhibited reduced syncytial apoptosis. Altogether these results indicate that apoptosis induced by a fusogenic HIV-1 Env follows a pro-apoptotic pathway involving the sequential activation of ATM, p38MAPK and p53.
PMCID: PMC2423469  PMID: 18560558
3.  Essential role of p53 phosphorylation by p38 MAPK in apoptosis induction by the HIV-1 envelope 
The proapoptotic activity of the transcription factor p53 critically depends on the phosphorylation of serine 46 (p53S46P). Here, we show that syncytia containing p53S46P could be detected in lymph node biopsies from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 carriers, in the brain of patients with HIV-1–associated dementia and in cocultures of HeLa expressing the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein complex (Env) with HeLa cells expressing CD4. In this latter model, cell death was the result of a sequential process involving cell fusion, nuclear fusion (karyogamy), phosphorylation of serine 15 (p53S15P), later on serine 46 (p53S46P), and transcription of p53 target genes. Cytoplasmic p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) was found to undergo an activating phosphorylation (p38T180/Y182P [p38 with phosphorylated threonine 180 and tyrosine 182]) before karyogamy and to translocate into karyogamic nuclei. p38T180/Y182P colocalized and coimmunoprecipitated with p53S46P. Recombinant p38 phosphorylated recombinant p53 on serine 46 in vitro. Inhibition of p38 MAPK by pharmacological inhibitors, dominant-negative p38, or small interfering RNA, suppressed p53S46P (but not p53S15P), the expression of p53-inducible genes, the conformational activation of proapoptotic Bax and Bak, the release of cytochrome c from mitochondria, and consequent apoptosis. p38T180/Y182P was also detected in HIV-1–induced syncytia, in vivo, in patients' lymph nodes and brains. Dominant-negative MKK3 or MKK6 inhibited syncytial activation of p38, p53S46P, and apoptosis. Altogether, these findings indicate that p38 MAPK-mediated p53 phosphorylation constitutes a critical step of Env-induced apoptosis.
PMCID: PMC2212781  PMID: 15642743
4.  Inhibition of Macroautophagy Triggers Apoptosis† 
Molecular and Cellular Biology  2005;25(3):1025-1040.
Mammalian cells were observed to die under conditions in which nutrients were depleted and, simultaneously, macroautophagy was inhibited either genetically (by a small interfering RNA targeting Atg5, Atg6/Beclin 1-1, Atg10, or Atg12) or pharmacologically (by 3-methyladenine, hydroxychloroquine, bafilomycin A1, or monensin). Cell death occurred through apoptosis (type 1 cell death), since it was reduced by stabilization of mitochondrial membranes (with Bcl-2 or vMIA, a cytomegalovirus-derived gene) or by caspase inhibition. Under conditions in which the fusion between lysosomes and autophagosomes was inhibited, the formation of autophagic vacuoles was enhanced at a preapoptotic stage, as indicated by accumulation of LC3-II protein, ultrastructural studies, and an increase in the acidic vacuolar compartment. Cells exhibiting a morphology reminiscent of (autophagic) type 2 cell death, however, recovered, and only cells with a disrupted mitochondrial transmembrane potential were beyond the point of no return and inexorably died even under optimal culture conditions. All together, these data indicate that autophagy may be cytoprotective, at least under conditions of nutrient depletion, and point to an important cross talk between type 1 and type 2 cell death pathways.
PMCID: PMC543994  PMID: 15657430
5.  NF-κB and p53 Are the Dominant Apoptosis-inducing Transcription Factors Elicited by the HIV-1 Envelope 
The coculture of cells expressing the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein complex (Env) with cells expressing CD4 results into cell fusion, deregulated mitosis, and subsequent cell death. Here, we show that NF-κB, p53, and AP1 are activated in Env-elicited apoptosis. The nuclear factor κB (NF-κB) super repressor had an antimitotic and antiapoptotic effect and prevented the Env-elicited phosphorylation of p53 on serine 15 and 46, as well as the activation of AP1. Transfection with dominant-negative p53 abolished apoptosis and AP1 activation. Signs of NF-κB and p53 activation were also detected in lymph node biopsies from HIV-1–infected individuals. Microarrays revealed that most (85%) of the transcriptional effects of HIV-1 Env were blocked by the p53 inhibitor pifithrin-α. Macroarrays led to the identification of several Env-elicited, p53-dependent proapoptotic transcripts, in particular Puma, a proapoptotic “BH3-only” protein from the Bcl-2 family known to activate Bax/Bak. Down modulation of Puma by antisense oligonucleotides, as well as RNA interference of Bax and Bak, prevented Env-induced apoptosis. HIV-1–infected primary lymphoblasts up-regulated Puma in vitro. Moreover, circulating CD4+ lymphocytes from untreated, HIV-1–infected donors contained enhanced amounts of Puma protein, and these elevated Puma levels dropped upon antiretroviral therapy. Altogether, these data indicate that NF-κB and p53 cooperate as the dominant proapoptotic transcription factors participating in HIV-1 infection.
PMCID: PMC2213296  PMID: 14993250
Bax; mitochondria; NF-κB; Puma; Bak
6.  Lysosomal Membrane Permeabilization Induces Cell Death in a Mitochondrion-dependent Fashion 
The Journal of Experimental Medicine  2003;197(10):1323-1334.
A number of diseases are due to lysosomal destabilization, which results in damaging cell loss. To investigate the mechanisms of lysosomal cell death, we characterized the cytotoxic action of two widely used quinolone antibiotics: ciprofloxacin (CPX) or norfloxacin (NFX). CPX or NFX plus UV light (NFX*) induce lysosomal membrane permeabilization (LMP), as detected by the release of cathepsins from lysosomes. Inhibition of the lysosomal accumulation of CPX or NFX suppresses their capacity to induce LMP and to kill cells. CPX- or NFX-triggered LMP results in caspase-independent cell death, with hallmarks of apoptosis such as chromatin condensation and phosphatidylserine exposure on the plasma membrane. LMP triggers mitochondrial membrane permeabilization (MMP), as detected by the release of cytochrome c. Both CPX and NFX* cause Bax and Bak to adopt their apoptotic conformation and to insert into mitochondrial membranes. Bax−/− Bak−/− double knockout cells fail to undergo MMP and cell death in response to CPX- or NFX-induced LMP. The single knockout of Bax or Bak (but not Bid) or the transfection-enforced expression of mitochondrion-targeted (but not endoplasmic reticulum–targeted) Bcl-2 conferred protection against CPX (but not NFX*)-induced MMP and death. Altogether, our data indicate that mitochondria are indispensable for cell death initiated by lysosomal destabilization.
PMCID: PMC2193790  PMID: 12756268
Bax; Bcl-2; apoptosis; autophagy; caspases
8.  Inhibition of Apoptosis by Gamma Interferon in Cells and Mice Infected with Chlamydia muridarum (the Mouse Pneumonitis Strain of Chlamydia trachomatis)  
Infection and Immunity  2002;70(5):2559-2565.
The effect of gamma interferon (IFN-γ) on apoptosis due to infection by Chlamydia muridarum (the mouse pneumonitis strain of Chlamydia trachomatis) was studied in epithelial cells in culture and in the genital tracts of mice. IFN-γ concentrations that induce the formation of aberrant, persistent chlamydiae inhibit apoptosis due to C. muridarum infection. In cells treated with an IFN-γ concentration that leads to the development of a heterogenous population of normal and aberrant Chlamydia vacuoles, apoptosis was inhibited preferentially in cells that contained the aberrant vacuoles. The inhibitory effect of IFN-γ appears to be due in part to expression of host cell indoleamine 2,3-dioxygenase activity, since inhibition of apoptosis could be partially reversed through coincubation with exogenous tryptophan. Apoptotic cells were observed in the genital tracts of wild-type mice infected with C. muridarum, and a significantly larger number of apoptotic cells was detected in infected IFN-γ-deficient mice. These results suggest that IFN-γ may contribute to pathogenesis of persistent Chlamydia infections in vivo by preventing apoptosis of infected cells.
PMCID: PMC127895  PMID: 11953396
9.  Role of Bcl-2 Family Members in Caspase-Independent Apoptosis during Chlamydia Infection  
Infection and Immunity  2002;70(1):55-61.
Infection with an obligate intracellular bacterium, the Chlamydia trachomatis lymphogranuloma venereum (LGV/L2) strain or the guinea pig inclusion conjunctivitis serovar of Chlamydia psittaci, leads to apoptosis of host cells. The apoptosis is not affected by a broad-spectrum caspase inhibitor, and caspase-3 is not activated in infected cells, suggesting that apoptosis mediated by these two strains of Chlamydia is independent of known caspases. Overexpression of the proapoptotic Bcl-2 family member, Bax, was previously shown to induce caspase-independent apoptosis, and we find that Bax is activated and translocates from the cytosol to the mitochondria in C. psittaci-infected cells. C. psittaci-induced apoptosis is inhibited in host cells overexpressing Bax inhibitor-1 and is inhibited through overexpression of Bcl-2, which blocks both caspase-dependent and -independent apoptosis. As Bax and mitochondria are ideally located to sense stress-related metabolic changes emanating from the interior of an infected cell, it is likely that Bax-dependent apoptosis may also be observed in cells infected with other intracellular pathogens.
PMCID: PMC127616  PMID: 11748163
10.  Effect of Chlamydia trachomatis Infection and Subsequent Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha Secretion on Apoptosis in the Murine Genital Tract 
Infection and Immunity  2000;68(4):2237-2244.
The pathology observed during Chlamydia infection is due initially to localized tissue damage caused by the infection itself, followed by deleterious host inflammatory responses that lead to permanent scarring. We have recently reported that the infection by Chlamydia in vitro results in apoptosis of epithelial cells and macrophages and that infected monocytes secrete the proinflammatory cytokine interleukin-1β. At the same time, proinflammatory cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) can also trigger apoptosis of susceptible cells. To study the possible relationship between Chlamydia trachomatis infection and apoptosis in vivo, we used the terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase-mediated dUTP nick end labeling technique to determine whether infection may cause apoptosis in the genital tract of mice and, conversely, whether cytokines produced during the inflammatory response may modulate the level of apoptosis. Our results demonstrate that infected cells in the endocervix at day 2 or 7 after infection are sometimes apoptotic, although there was not a statistically significant change in the number of apoptotic cells in the endocervix. However, large clumps of apoptotic infected cells were observed in the lumen, suggesting that apoptotic cells may be shed from the endocervix. Moreover, there was a large increase in the number of apoptotic cells in the uterine horns and oviducts after 2 or 7 days of infection, which was accompanied by obvious signs of upper tract pathology. Interestingly, depletion of TNF-α led to a decrease in the level of apoptosis in the uterine horns and oviducts of animals infected for 7 days, suggesting that the inflammatory cytokines may exert part of their pathological effect via apoptosis in infected tissues.
PMCID: PMC97409  PMID: 10722625

Results 1-10 (10)