The HIV-1 accessory factor Vif is necessary for efficient viral infection in non-permissive cells. Vif antagonizes the antiviral activity of human cytidine deaminase APOBEC3 proteins that confer the non-permissive phenotype by tethering them (APOBEC3DE/3F/3G) to the Vif-CBF-β-ElonginB-ElonginC-Cullin5-Rbx (Vif-CBF-β-EloB-EloC-Cul5-Rbx) E3 complex to induce their proteasomal degradation. EloB and EloC were initially reported as positive regulatory subunits of the Elongin (SIII) complex. Thereafter, EloB and EloC were found to be components of Cul-E3 complexes, contributing to proteasomal degradation of specific substrates. CBF-β is a newly identified key regulator of Vif function, and more information is needed to further clarify its regulatory mechanism. Here, we comprehensively investigated the functions of EloB (together with EloC) in the Vif-CBF-β-Cul5 E3 ligase complex.
The results revealed that: (1) EloB (and EloC) positively affected the recruitment of CBF-β to Vif. Both knockdown of endogenous EloB and over-expression of its mutant with a 34-residue deletion in the COOH-terminal tail (EloBΔC34/EBΔC34) impaired the Vif-CBF-β interaction. (2) Introduction of both the Vif SLQ → AAA mutant (VifΔSLQ, which dramatically impairs Vif-EloB-EloC binding) and the Vif PPL → AAA mutant (VifΔPPL, which is thought to reduce Vif-EloB binding) could reduce CBF-β binding. (3) EloB-EloC but not CBF-β could greatly enhance the folding of full-length Vif in Escherichia coli. (4) The over-expression of EloB or the N-terminal ubiquitin-like (UbL) domain of EloB could significantly improve the stability of Vif/VifΔSLQ/VifΔPPL through the region between residues 9 and 14.
Our results indicate that the Vif interaction with EloB-EloC may contribute to recruitment of CBF-β to Vif, demonstrating that the EloB C-teminus may play a role in improving Vif function and that the over-expression of EloB results in Vif stabilization.
CBF-β; Elongin BC complex; HIV-1; Protein binding; Ubiquitin-protein ligases; Vif
Host cell microRNAs (miRNAs) have been shown to regulate the expression of both cellular and viral RNAs, in particular impacting both Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). To investigate the role of miRNAs in regulating replication of the simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) in macrophage lineage cells, we used primary macrophages to study targeting of SIV RNA by miRNAs. We examined whether specific host miRNAs directly target SIV RNA early in infection and might be induced via type I interferon pathways.
miRNA target prediction programs identified miRNA binding sites within SIV RNA. Predicted binding sites for miRs-29a, -29b, -9 and -146a were identified in the SIV Nef/U3 and R regions, and all four miRNAs decreased virus production and viral RNA expression in primary macrophages. To determine whether levels of these miRNAs were affected by SIV infection, IFNβ or TNFα treatments, miRNA RT-qPCR assays measured miRNA levels after infection or treatment of macrophages. SIV RNA levels as well as virus production was downregulated by direct targeting of the SIV Nef/U3 and R regions by four miRNAs. miRs-29a, -29b, -9 and -146a were induced in primary macrophages after SIV infection. Each of these miRNAs was regulated by innate immune signaling through TNFα and/or the type I IFN, IFNβ.
The effects on miRNAs caused by HIV/SIV infection are illustrated by changes in their cellular expression throughout the course of disease, and in different patient populations. Our data demonstrate that levels of primary transcripts and mature miRs-29a, -29b, -9 and -146a are modulated by SIV infection. We show that the SIV 3′ UTR contains functional miRNA response elements (MREs) for all four miRNAs. Notably, these miRNAs regulate virus production and viral RNA levels in macrophages, the primary cells infected in the CNS that drive inflammation leading to HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders. This report may aid in identification miRNAs that target viral RNAs and HIV/SIV specifically, as well as in identification of miRNAs that may be targets of new therapies to treat HIV.
MicroRNA; MiR-29a; MiR-29b; MiR-9; MiR-146a; IFNb; TNFa; HIV; SIV; Macrophages
An HIV-1 diagnostic laboratory was established in the Academic Medical Center (AMC) of the University of Amsterdam after the discovery of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) as the cause of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). The first AIDS patients were diagnosed here in 1981 and since 1983 we have tested the samples of 50992 patients using a variety of assays that greatly improved over the years. We will describe some of the basic results from this diagnostic laboratory and then focus on the spin-off in terms of the development of novel virus assays to detect super-infections and ultra-sensitive assays to measure the intracellular HIV-1 RNA load. We also review several original research findings in the field of HIV-1 virology that stem from initial observations made in the diagnostic unit. This includes the study of genetic defects in the HIV-1 genome and time trends of the replication fitness over 30 years of viral evolution, but also the description of novel HIV-1 variants in difficult-to-diagnose clinical specimen.
HIV-1; Patient care; Viral load assays; Genotyping; Novel subtypes; Fitness; Superinfection; Seroreversion
HTLV-I associated adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma (ATL) carries a dismal prognosis due to chemo-resistance and immuno-compromised micro-environment. The combination of zidovudine and interferon-alpha (IFN) significantly improved survival in ATL. Promising results were reported by adding arsenic trioxide to zidovudine and IFN.
Here we assessed Th1/Th2/Treg cytokine gene expression profiles in 16 ATL patients before and 30 days after treatment with arsenic/IFN/zidovudine, in comparison with HTLV-I healthy carriers and sero-negative blood donors. ATL patients at diagnosis displayed a Treg/Th2 cytokine profile with significantly elevated transcript levels of Foxp3, interleukin-10 (IL-10), and IL-4 and had a reduced Th1 profile evidenced by decreased transcript levels of interferon-γ (IFN-γ) and IL-2. Most patients (15/16) responded, with CD4+CD25+ cells significantly decreasing after therapy, paralleled by decreases in Foxp3 transcript. Importantly, arsenic/IFN/zidovudine therapy sharply diminished IL-10 transcript and serum levels concomittant with decrease in IL-4 and increases in IFN-γ and IL-2 mRNA, whether or not values were adjusted to the percentage of CD4+CD25+ cells. Finally, IL-10 transcript level negatively correlated with clinical response at Day 30.
The observed shift from a Treg/Th2 phenotype before treatment toward a Th1 phenotype after treatment with arsenic/IFN/zidovudine may play an important role in restoring an immuno-competent micro-environment, which enhances the eradication of ATL cells and the prevention of opportunistic infections.
Arsenic; Interferon; Zidovudine; HTLV-I; ATL; Cytokines; Immune deficiency
HIV infection can be treated effectively with antiretroviral agents, but the persistence of a latent reservoir of integrated proviruses prevents eradication of HIV from infected individuals. The chromosomal environment of integrated proviruses has been proposed to influence HIV latency, but the determinants of transcriptional repression have not been fully clarified, and it is unclear whether the same molecular mechanisms drive latency in different cell culture models.
Here we compare data from five different in vitro models of latency based on primary human T cells or a T cell line. Cells were infected in vitro and separated into fractions containing proviruses that were either expressed or silent/inducible, and integration site populations sequenced from each. We compared the locations of 6,252 expressed proviruses to those of 6,184 silent/inducible proviruses with respect to 140 forms of genomic annotation, many analyzed over chromosomal intervals of multiple lengths. A regularized logistic regression model linking proviral expression status to genomic features revealed no predictors of latency that performed better than chance, though several genomic features were significantly associated with proviral expression in individual models. Proviruses in the same chromosomal region did tend to share the same expressed or silent/inducible status if they were from the same cell culture model, but not if they were from different models.
The silent/inducible phenotype appears to be associated with chromosomal position, but the molecular basis is not fully clarified and may differ among in vitro models of latency.
HIV-1; Latency; Cure; Cell model; Integration sites; Meta-analysis; Central memory CD4 + T cells
Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection of Indian-origin rhesus macaques (RM) has been widely used as a well-established nonhuman primate (NHP) model for HIV/AIDS research. However, there have been a growing number of studies using Chinese RM to evaluate immunopathogenesis of SIV infection. In this paper, we have for the first time reviewed and discussed the major publications related to SIV or SHIV infection of Chinese RM in the past decades. We have compared the differences in the pathogenesis of SIV infection between Chinese RM and Indian RM with regard to viral infection, immunological response, and host genetic background. Given AIDS is a disease that affects humans of diverse origins, it is of importance to study animals with different geographical background. Therefore, to examine and compare results obtained from RM models of Indian and Chinese origins should lead to further validation and improvement of these animal models for HIV/AIDS research.
Simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV); Nonhuman primate (NHP); Chinese rhesus macaques (RM); Indian RM; HIV/AIDS
Intrapartum administration of single-dose nevirapine (sdNVP) reduces perinatal HIV-1 transmission in resource-limiting settings by half. Yet this strategy has limited effect on subsequent breast milk transmission, making the case for new treatment approaches to extend maternal/infant antiretroviral prophylaxis through the period of lactation. Maternal and transmitted infant HIV-1 variants frequently develop NVP resistance mutations following sdNVP, complicating subsequent treatment/prophylaxis regimens. However, it is not clear whether NVP-resistant viruses are transmitted via breastfeeding or arise de novo in the infant.
We performed a detailed HIV genetic analysis using single genome sequencing to identify the origin of drug-resistant variants in an sdNVP-treated postnatally-transmitting mother-infant pair. Phylogenetic analysis of HIV sequences from the child revealed low-diversity variants indicating infection by a subtype C single transmitted/founder virus that shared full-length sequence identity with a clonally-amplified maternal breast milk virus variant harboring the K103N NVP resistance mutation.
In this mother/child pair, clonal amplification of maternal NVP-resistant HIV variants present in systemic and mammary gland compartments following intrapartum sdNVP represents one source of transmitted NVP-resistant variants that is responsible for the acquisition of drug resistant virus by the breastfeeding infant. This finding emphasizes the need for combination antiretroviral prophylaxis to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission.
Mother-to-child transmission; Breast milk; HIV-transmission; Nevirapine; Drug-resistant variant; K103N; Transmitted virus; Clonal amplification; Antiretroviral prophylaxis
HIV-1 DNA is found both integrated in the host chromosome and unintegrated in various forms: linear (DNAL) or circular (1-LTRc, 2-LTRc or products of auto-integration). Here, based on pre-established strategies, we extended and characterized in terms of sensitivity two methodologies for quantifying 1-LTRc and DNAL, respectively, the latter being able to discriminate between unprocessed or 3′-processed DNA.
Quantifying different types of viral DNA genome individually provides new information about the dynamics of all viral DNA forms and their interplay. For DNAL, we found that the 3′-processing reaction was efficient during the early stage of the replication cycle. Moreover, strand-transfer inhibitors (Dolutegravir, Elvitegravir, Raltegravir) affected 3′-processing differently. The comparisons of 2-LTRc accumulation mediated by either strand-transfer inhibitors or catalytic mutation of integrase indicate that 3′-processing efficiency did not influence the total 2-LTRc accumulation although the nature of the LTR-LTR junction was qualitatively affected. Finally, a significant proportion of 1-LTRc was generated concomitantly with reverse transcription, although most of the 1-LTRc were produced in the nucleus.
We describe the fate of viral DNA forms during HIV-1 infection. Our study reveals the interplay between various forms of the viral DNA genome, the distribution of which can be affected by mutations and by inhibitors of HIV-1 viral proteins. In the latter case, the quantification of 3′-processed DNA in infected cells can be informative about the mechanisms of future integrase inhibitors directly in the cell context.
HIV-1; 3′-processing; 1-LTR circles; Integrase; Strand transfer inhibitors
The transactivating response (TAR) element of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is the source of two functional microRNAs (miRNAs), miR-TAR-5p and miR-TAR-3p. The objective of this study was to characterize the post-transcriptional regulation of host messenger RNAs (mRNAs) relevant to HIV-1 pathogenesis by HIV-1 TAR miRNAs.
We demonstrated that TAR miRNAs derived from HIV-1 can incorporate into host effector Argonaute protein complexes, which is required if these miRNAs are to regulate host mRNA expression. Bioinformatic predictions and reporter gene activity assays identified regulatory elements complementary and responsive to miR-TAR-5p and miR-TAR-3p in the 3’ untranslated region (UTR) of several candidate genes involved in apoptosis and cell survival. These include Caspase 8, Aiolos, Ikaros and Nucleophosmin (NPM)/B23. Analyses of Jurkat cells that stably expressed HIV-1 TAR or contained a full-length latent HIV provirus suggested that HIV-1 TAR miRNAs could regulate the expression of genes in T cells that affect the balance between apoptosis and cell survival.
HIV-1 TAR miRNAs may contribute to the replication cycle and pathogenesis of HIV-1, by regulating host genes involved in the intricate balance between apoptosis and infected cell, to induce conditions that promote HIV-1 propagation and survival.
HIV-1; TAR microRNAs; Apoptosis; Caspase 8; Ikaros; Aiolos; Nucleophosmin (NPM)/B23
Tetherin (or BST-2) is an antiviral host restriction factor that suppresses the release of HIV-1 and other enveloped viruses by tethering them to the cell surface. Recently, it has been demonstrated that tetherin also acts as an innate sensor of HIV-1 assembly that induces NF-κB-dependent proinflammatory responses. Furthermore, it has been reported that polymorphisms in the promoter and 3‘ untranslated region of the bst2 gene may affect the clinical outcome of HIV-1 infection. However, non-synonymous polymorphisms in the bst2 open reading frame have not yet been described or functionally characterized.
Mining of the Exome Variant Server database identified seven very rare naturally occurring missense variants of tetherin (Y8H, R19H, N49S, D103N, E117A, D129E and V146L) in human populations. Functional analyses showed that none of these sequence variants significantly affects the ability of tetherin to inhibit HIV-1 virion release or its sensitivity to antagonism by HIV-1 Vpu or SIVtan Env, although Y8H alters a potential YxY endocytic motif proposed to play a role in virion uptake. Thus, these variants do most likely not represent an evolutionary advantage in directly controlling HIV-1 replication or spread. Interestingly, however, the R19H variant selectively abrogated the signaling activity of tetherin.
Restriction of HIV-1 virion release and immune sensing are two separable functions of human tetherin and the latter activity is severely impaired by a single amino acid variant (R19H) in the cytoplasmic part of tetherin.
BST-2 (bone marrow stromal cell antigen 2) is an interferon-inducible protein that inhibits virus release by tethering viral particles to the cell surface. This antiviral activity of BST-2 is antagonized by HIV-1 accessory protein Vpu. Vpu physically interacts with BST-2 through their mutual transmembrane (TM) domains. In this study, we utilized the BRET assay and molecular dynamics (MD) simulation method to further characterize the interaction of BST-2 and Vpu.
Amino acids I34, L37, P40 and L41 in the TM domain of BST-2, and L11, A18 and W22 in the TM domain of Vpu were identified to be critical for the interaction between BST-2 and Vpu. The residues P40 in the TM domain of BST-2 and L11 in the TM domain of Vpu were shown, for the first time, to be important for their interaction. Furthermore, triple-amino-acid substitutions, 14–16 (AII to VAA) and 26–28 (IIE to AAA) in Vpu TM, not the single-residue mutation, profoundly disrupted BST-2/Vpu interaction. The results of MD simulation revealed significant conformational changes of the BST-2/Vpu complex as a result of mutating P40 of BST-2 and L11, 14–16 (AII to VAA) and 26–28 (IIE to AAA) of Vpu. In addition, disrupting the interaction between BST-2 and Vpu rendered BST-2 resistant to Vpu antagonization.
Through use of the BRET assay, we identified novel key residues P40 in the TM domain of BST-2 and L11 in the TM domain of Vpu that are important for their interaction. These results add new insights into the molecular mechanism behind BST-2 antagonization by HIV-1 Vpu.
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1; Vpu; BST-2; Bioluminescence resonance energy transfer assay; Molecular dynamics simulation
Viral protein R (Vpr), a protein of human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) with various biological functions, was shown to be present in the blood of HIV-1-positive patients. However, it remained unclear whether circulating Vpr in patients’ blood is biologically active. Here, we examined the activity of blood Vpr using an assay system by which retrotransposition of long interspersed element-1 (L1-RTP) was detected. We also investigated the in vivo effects of recombinant Vpr (rVpr) by administrating it to transgenic mice harboring human L1 as a transgene (hL1-Tg mice). Based on our data, we discuss the involvement of blood Vpr in the clinical symptoms of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
We first discovered that rVpr was active in induction of L1-RTP. Biochemical analyses revealed that rVpr-induced L1-RTP depended on the aryl hydrocarbon receptor, mitogen-activated protein kinases, and CCAAT/enhancer-binding protein β. By using a sensitive L1-RTP assay system, we showed that 6 of the 15 blood samples from HIV-1 patients examined were positive for induction of L1-RTP. Of note, the L1-RTP-inducing activity was blocked by a monoclonal antibody specific for Vpr. Moreover, L1-RTP was reproducibly induced in various organs, including the kidney, when rVpr was administered to hL1-Tg mice.
Blood Vpr is biologically active, suggesting that its monitoring is worthwhile for clarification of the roles of Vpr in the pathogenesis of AIDS. This is the first report to demonstrate a soluble factor in patients’ blood active for L1-RTP activity, and implies the involvement of L1-RTP in the development of human diseases.
HIV-1; Vpr; Blood; Retrotransposition; LINE-1; ORF1
The HIV epidemic continues unabated, with no highly effective vaccine and no cure. Each new infection has significant economic, social and human costs and prevention efforts are now as great a priority as global antiretroviral therapy (ART) scale up. Reverse transcriptase inhibitors, the first licensed class of ART, have been at the forefront of treatment and prevention of mother to child transmission over the past two decades. Now, their use in adult prevention is being extensively investigated. We describe two approaches: treatment as prevention (TasP) - the use of combination ART (2NRTI and 1NNRTI) following HIV diagnosis to limit transmission and pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) –the use of single or dual oral agents prior to sexual exposure. Prevention of mother-to-child transmission using NRTI has been highly successful, though does not involve sustained use of NRTI to limit transmission. Despite theoretical and preliminary support for TasP and PrEP, data thus far indicate that adherence, retention in care and late diagnosis are the major barriers to their successful, sustained implementation. Future advances in drug technologies will be needed to overcome the issue of drug adherence, through development of drugs that involve both less frequent dosing as well as reduced toxicity, possibly through specific targeting of infected cells.
Lentiviruses such as HIV-1 can be distinguished from other retroviruses by the cyclophilin A-binding loop in their capsid and their ability to infect non-dividing cells. Infection of non-dividing cells requires transport through the nuclear pore but how this is mediated is unknown.
Here we present the crystal structure of the N-terminal capsid domain of HIV-1 in complex with the cyclophilin domain of nuclear pore protein NUP358. The structure reveals that HIV-1 is positioned to allow single-bond resonance stabilisation of exposed capsid residue P90. NMR exchange experiments demonstrate that NUP358 is an active isomerase, which efficiently catalyzes cis-trans isomerization of the HIV-1 capsid. In contrast, the distantly related feline lentivirus FIV can bind NUP358 but is neither isomerized by it nor requires it for infection.
Isomerization by NUP358 may be preserved by HIV-1 to target the nuclear pore and synchronize nuclear entry with capsid uncoating.
HIV-1; Cyclophilin; NUP358; Isomerization; Nuclear pore
Newly synthesized HIV-1 particles assemble at the plasma membrane of infected cells, before being released as free virions or being transferred through direct cell-to-cell contacts to neighboring cells. Localization of HIV-1 Gag precursor at the cell membrane is necessary and sufficient to trigger viral assembly, whereas the GagPol precursor is additionally required to generate a fully matured virion. HIV-1 Nef is an accessory protein that optimizes viral replication through partly defined mechanisms. Whether Nef modulates Gag and/or GagPol localization and assembly at the membrane and facilitates viral cell-to-cell transfer has not been extensively characterized so far.
We report that Nef increases the total amount of Gag proteins present in infected cells, and promotes Gag localization at the cell membrane. Moreover, the processing of p55 into p24 is improved in the presence of Nef. We also examined the effect of Nef during HIV-1 cell-to-cell transfer. We show that without Nef, viral transfer through direct contacts between infected cells and target cells is impaired. With a nef-deleted virus, the number of HIV-1 positive target cells after a short 2h co-culture is reduced, and viral material transferred to uninfected cells is less matured. At later time points, this defect is associated with a reduction in the productive infection of new target cells.
Our results highlight a previously unappreciated role of Nef during the viral replication cycle. Nef promotes HIV-1 Gag membrane localization and processing, and facilitates viral cell-to-cell transfer.
HIV-1 relies on the host ESCRTs for release from cells. HIV-1 Gag engages ESCRTs by directly binding TSG101 or Alix. ESCRTs also sort ubiquitinated membrane proteins through endosomes to facilitate their lysosomal degradation. The ability of ESCRTs to recognize and process ubiquitinated proteins suggests that ESCRT-dependent viral release may also be controlled by ubiquitination. Although both Gag and ESCRTs undergo some level of ubiquitination, definitive demonstration that ubiquitin is required for viral release is lacking. Here we suppress ubiquitination at viral budding sites by fusing the catalytic domain of the Herpes Simplex UL36 deubiquitinating enzyme (DUb) onto TSG101, Alix, or Gag.
Expressing DUb-TSG101 suppressed Alix-independent HIV-1 release and viral particles remained tethered to the cell surface. DUb-TSG101 had no effect on budding of MoMLV or EIAV, two retroviruses that rely on the ESCRT machinery for exit. Alix-dependent virus release such as EIAV’s, and HIV-1 lacking access to TSG101, was instead dramatically blocked by co-expressing DUb-Alix. Finally, Gag-DUb was unable to support virus release and dominantly interfered with release of wild type HIV-1. Fusion of UL36 did not effect interactions with Alix, TSG101, or Gag and all of the inhibitory effects of UL36 fusion were abolished when its catalytic activity was ablated. Accordingly, Alix, TSG101 and Gag fused to inactive UL36 functionally replaced their unfused counterparts. Interestingly, coexpression of the Nedd4-2s ubiquitin ligase suppressed the ability of DUb-TSG101 to inhibit HIV-1 release while also restoring detectable Gag ubiquitination at the membrane. Similarly, incorporation of Gag-Ub fusion proteins into virions lifted DUb-ESCRT inhibitory effect. In contrast, Nedd4-2s did not suppress the inhibition mediated by Gag-DUb despite restoring robust ubiquitination of TSG101/ESCRT-I at virus budding sites.
These studies demonstrate a necessary and natural role for ubiquitin in ESCRT-dependent viral release and indicate a critical role for ubiquitination of Gag rather than ubiquitination of ESCRTs themselves.
Ubiquitin; HIV budding; ESCRT; Deubiquitination; Gag
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) has a biased nucleotide composition different from human genes. This raises the question of how evolution has chosen the nucleotide sequence of HIV-1 that is observed today, or to what extent the actual encoding contributes to virus replication capacity, evolvability and pathogenesis. Here, we applied the previously described synthetic attenuated virus engineering (SAVE) approach to HIV-1.
Using synonymous codon pairs, we rationally recoded and codon pair–optimized and deoptimized different moieties of the HIV-1 gag and pol genes. Deoptimized viruses had significantly lower viral replication capacity in MT-4 and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs). Varying degrees of ex vivo attenuation were obtained, depending upon both the specific deoptimized region and the number of deoptimized codons. A protease optimized virus carrying 38 synonymous mutations was not attenuated and displayed a replication capacity similar to that of the wild-type virus in MT-4 cells and PBMCs. Although attenuation is based on several tens of nucleotide changes, deoptimized HIV-1 reverted to wild-type virulence after serial passages in MT-4 cells. Remarkably, no reversion was observed in the optimized virus.
These data demonstrate that SAVE is a useful strategy to phenotypically affect the replicative properties of HIV-1.
Codon-pair bias; HIV; Attenuation; Evolution
APOBEC3 (A3) proteins restrict viral replication by cytidine deamination of viral DNA genomes and impairing reverse transcription and integration. To escape this restriction, lentiviruses have evolved the viral infectivity factor (Vif), which binds A3 proteins and targets them for proteolytic degradation. In contrast, foamy viruses (FVs) encode Bet proteins that allow replication in the presence of A3, apparently by A3 binding and/or sequestration, thus preventing A3 packaging into virions and subsequent restriction. Due to a long-lasting FV-host coevolution, Bet proteins mainly counteract restriction by A3s from their cognate or highly related host species.
Through bioinformatics, we identified conserved motifs in Bet, all localized in the bel2 exon. In line with the localization of these conserved motifs within bel2, this part of feline FV (FFV) Bet has been shown to be essential for feline A3 (feA3) inactivation and feA3 protein binding. To study the function of the Bet motifs in detail, we analyzed the ability of targeted deletion, substitution, and chimeric FFV-PFV (prototype FV) Bet mutants to physically bind and/or inactivate feA3. Binding of Bet to feA3Z2b is sensitive to mutations in the first three conserved motifs and N- and C-terminal deletions and substitutions across almost the complete bel2 coding sequence. In contrast, the Bel1 (also designated Tas) domain of Bet is dispensable for basal feA3Z2b inactivation and binding but mainly increases the steady state level of Bet. Studies with PFV Bel1 and full-length FFV Bel2 chimeras confirmed the importance of Bel2 for A3 inactivation indicating that Bel1 is dispensable for basal feA3Z2b inactivation and binding but increases Bet stability. Moreover, the bel1/tas exon may be required for expression of a fully functional Bet protein from a spliced transcript.
We show that the Bel2 domain of FV Bet is essential for the inactivation of APOBEC3 cytidine deaminase restriction factors. The Bel1/Tas domain increases protein stability and can be exchanged by related sequence. Since feA3 binding and inactivation by Bet are highly correlated, the data support the view that FV Bet prevents A3-mediated restriction of viral replication by creating strong complexes with these proteins.
APOBEC3; Retrovirus; Foamy virus; Antiviral restriction factors; Bet protein; Host-virus interaction; Virus defence protein
Many species of non-human primates in Africa are naturally infected by simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIV) and humans stand at the forefront of exposure to these viruses in Sub-Saharan Africa. Cross-species transmission and adaptation of SIV to humans have given rise to human immunodeficiency viruses (HIV-1 and HIV-2) on twelve accountable, independent occasions. However, the determinants contributing to a simian-to-human lasting transmission are not fully understood. Following entry, viral cores are released into the cytoplasm and become the principal target of host cellular factors. Here, we evaluated cellular factors likely to be involved in potential new SIV cross-species transmissions. We investigated the interactions of capsids from naturally circulating SIV isolates with both HIV-1 restricting (i.e. TRIM5 proteins) and facilitating (i.e. cyclophilin A and nucleopore-associated Nup358/RanBP2 and Nup153) factors in single-round infectivity assays that reproduce early stages of the viral life-cycle.
We show that human TRIM5α is unlikely to prevent cross-species transmission of any SIV we tested and observed that the SIV CA-CypA interaction is a widespread but not a universal feature. Moreover, entry in the nucleus of different SIV appeared to follow pathways that do not necessarily recruit Nup358/RanBP2 or Nup153, and this regardless of their interaction with CypA. Nevertheless, we found that, like HIV-1, human-adapted HIV-2 infection was dependent on Nup358/RanBP2 and Nup153 interactions for optimal infection. Furthermore, we found that, unlike HIV CA, SIV CA did not require a direct interaction with the Cyp-like domain of Nup358/RanBP2 to carry out successful infection.
Circulating SIV present a variety of phenotypes with regard to CA-interacting restricting or facilitating factors. Altogether, we unveiled unidentified pathways for SIV CA, which could also be exploited by HIV in different cellular contexts, to drive entry into the nucleus. Our findings warrant a closer evaluation of other potential defenses against circulating SIV.
HIV-1; HIV-2; SIV; TRIM5α; TRIMCyp; Nup153; Nup358/RanBP2; Lentiviral capsids
Transformation by the Tax oncoprotein of the human T cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is governed by actions on cellular regulatory signals, including modulation of specific cellular gene expression via activation of signaling pathways, acceleration of cell cycle progression via stimulation of cyclin-dependent kinase activity leading to retinoblastoma protein (pRb) hyperphosphorylation and perturbation of survival signals. These actions control early steps in T cell transformation and development of Adult T cell leukemia (ATL), an aggressive malignancy of HTLV-1 infected T lymphocytes. Post-translational modifications of Tax by phosphorylation, ubiquitination, sumoylation and acetylation have been implicated in Tax-mediated activation of the NF-κB pathway, a key function associated with Tax transforming potential.
In this study, we demonstrate that acetylation at lysine K346 in the carboxy-terminal domain of Tax is modulated in the Tax nuclear bodies by the acetyltransferase p300 and the deacetylases HDAC5/7 and controls phosphorylation of the tumor suppressor pRb by Tax-cyclin D3-CDK4-p21CIP complexes. This property correlates with the inability of the acetylation deficient K346R mutant, but not the acetylation mimetic K346Q mutant, to promote anchorage-independent growth of Rat-1 fibroblasts. By contrast, acetylation at lysine K346 had no effects on the ability of Tax carboxy-terminal PDZ-binding domain to interact with the tumor suppressor hDLG.
The identification of the acetyltransferase p300 and the deacetylase HDAC7 as enzymes modulating Tax acetylation points to new therapeutic targets for the treatment of HTLV-1 infected patients at risk of developing ATL.
HTLV-1; Tax; Acetylation; CDK4; Transformation; Leukemia
Natural killer (NK) cells constitutively express high levels of Tim-3, an immunoregulatory molecule recently proposed to be a marker for mature and functional NK cells. Whether HIV-1 infection modulates the expression of Tim-3 on NK cells, or the levels of its ligand Galectin-9 (Gal-9), and how signaling through these molecules affects the NK cell response to HIV-1 remains inadequately understood.
We analyzed Tim-3 and Gal-9 expression in a cohort of 85 individuals with early and chronic HIV-1 infection, and in 13 HIV-1 seronegative control subjects. HIV-1 infection was associated with reduced expression of Tim-3 on NK cells, which was normalized by HAART. Plasma concentrations of Gal-9 were higher in HIV-1-infected individuals than in healthy individuals. Interestingly, Gal-9 expression in immune cells was significantly elevated in early infection, with monocytes and dendritic cells displaying the highest expression levels, which correlated with HIV-1 viral loads. In vitro, Gal-9 triggered Tim-3 downregulation on NK cells as well as NK cell activation.
Our data suggest that high expression levels of Gal-9 during early HIV-1 infection can lead to enhanced NK cell activity, possibly allowing for improved early control of HIV-1. In contrast, persistent Gal-9 production might impair Tim-3 activity and contribute to NK cell dysfunction in chronic HIV-1 infection.
Tim-3; Gal-9; HIV-1; Innate immunity; NK cells
The focus of most current HIV-1 vaccine development is on antibody-based approaches. This is because certain antibody responses correlated with protection from HIV-1 acquisition in the RV144 phase III trial, and because a series of potent and broad spectrum neutralizing antibodies have been isolated from infected individuals. Taken together, these two findings suggest ways forward to develop a neutralizing antibody-based vaccine. However, understanding of the correlates of protection from disease in HIV-1 and other infections strongly suggests that we should not ignore CTL-based research. Here we review recent progress in the field and highlight the challenges implicit in HIV-1 vaccine design and some potential solutions.
Protein arginine methyltransferase 6 (PRMT6) is a nuclear enzyme that methylates arginine residues on histones and transcription factors. In addition, PRMT6 inhibits HIV-1 replication in cell culture by directly methylating and interfering with the functions of several HIV-1 proteins, i.e. Tat, Rev and nucleocapsid (NC). PRMT6 also displays automethylation capacity but the role of this post-translational modification in its antiretroviral activity remains unknown.
Here we report the identification by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry of R35 within PRMT6 as the target residue for automethylation and have confirmed this by site-directed mutagenesis and in vitro and in vivo methylation assays. We further show that automethylation at position 35 greatly affects PRMT6 stability and is indispensable for its antiretroviral activity, as demonstrated in HIV-1 single-cycle TZM-bl infectivity assays.
These results show that PRMT6 automethylation plays a role in the stability of this protein and that this event is indispensible for its anti-HIV-1 activity.
PRMT6; HIV-1; Automethylation; Protein stability; Antiretroviral activity
HIV infection persists despite antiretroviral treatment (ART) and is reignited as soon as therapies are suspended. This vicious cycle is fueled by the persistence of viral reservoirs that are invulnerable to standard ART protocols, and thus therapeutic agents able to target these reservoirs are needed. One such agent, auranofin, has recently been shown to decrease the memory T-cell reservoir in chronically SIVmac251-infected macaques. Moreover, auranofin could synergize with a fully suppressive ART protocol and induce a drug-free post-therapy containment of viremia.
We administered buthionine sulfoximine (BSO), an inhibitor of glutathione synthesis currently in clinical trials for cancer, in combination with auranofin to chronically SIVmac251-infected macaques under highly-intensified ART (H-iART). The ART/auranofin/BSO therapeutic protocol was followed, after therapy suspension, by a significant decrease of viral RNA and DNA in peripheral blood as compared to pre-therapy levels. Drug-free post-therapy control of the infection was achieved in animals with pre-therapy viral loads ranging from values comparable to average human set points to levels largely higher. This control was dependent on the presence CD8+ cells and associated with enhanced levels of cell-mediated immune responses.
The level of post-therapy viral set point reduction achieved in this study is the largest reported so far in chronically SIVmac251-infected macaques and may represent a promising strategy to improve over the current “ART for life” plight.
Functional cure of HIV/AIDS; Viral reservoirs; Eradication research; Antireservoir therapy; Auranofin; Buthionine sulfoximine; SIVmac251 infection; Macaque AIDS model
Uncoating of the HIV-1 core plays a critical role during early post-fusion stages of infection but is poorly understood. Microscopy-based assays are unable to easily distinguish between intact and partially uncoated viral cores.
In this study, we used 5-ethynyl uridine (EU) to label viral-associated RNA during HIV production. At early time points after infection with EU-labeled virions, the viral-associated RNA was stained with an EU-specific dye and was detected by confocal microscopy together with viral proteins. We observed that detection of the viral-associated RNA was specific for EU-labeled virions, was detected only after viral fusion with target cells, and occurred after an initial opening of the core. In vitro staining of cores showed that the opening of the core allowed the small molecule dye, but not RNase A or antibodies, inside. Also, staining of the viral-associated RNA, which is co-localized with nucleocapsid, decays over time after viral infection. The decay rate of RNA staining is dependent on capsid (CA) stability, which was altered by CA mutations or a small molecule inducer of HIV-1 uncoating. While the staining of EU-labeled RNA was not affected by inhibition of reverse transcription, the kinetics of core opening of different CA mutants correlated with initiation of reverse transcription. Analysis of the E45A CA mutant suggests that initial core opening is independent of complete capsid disassembly.
Taken together, our results establish a novel RNA accessibility-based assay that detects an early event in HIV-1 uncoating and can be used to further define this process.