Retrovirology would like to sincerely thank the following for giving their time and expertise to review manuscripts for the journal in 2013. Their support for the journal is greatly appreciated.
HIV proteins Nef and Vpu down-modulate various host factors to evade immune defenses. Indeed, the CD4 receptor is down-regulated by Nef and Vpu, whereas virion-tethering BST2 is depleted by Vpu. Antibody-dependent cell-mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) is increasingly recognized as a potentially powerful anti-HIV response. Given that epitopes which are specific for ADCC-competent anti-HIV antibodies are transitionally exposed upon CD4-mediated HIV entry, we investigated whether by depleting CD4 and BST2, HIV could negatively affect ADCC function.
Using anti-envelope (Env) Abs A32 and 2G12 to trigger ADCC activity, we find that interactions between CD4 and Env within infected cells expose ADCC-targeted epitopes on cell-surface Env molecules, marking infected T cells for lysis by immune cells. We also provide evidence to show that by cross-linking nascent virions at the plasma membrane, hence increasing cell-surface Env density, BST2 further enhances the efficiency of this antiviral process. The heightened susceptibility of T cells infected with a virus lacking Nef and Vpu to ADCC was recapitulated when plasmas from HIV-infected patients were used as an alternative source of Abs.
Our data unveil a mechanism by which HIV Nef and Vpu function synergistically to protect infected cells from ADCC and promote viral persistence. These findings also renew the potential practical relevance of ADCC function in vivo.
HIV accessory proteins Nef and Vpu; BST2; CD4-Env interactions; ADCC
Early HIV-1 infection causes massive CD4+ T cell death in the gut and translocation of bacteria into the circulation. However, the programmed cell death (PCD) pathways used by HIV-1 to kill CD4+ T cells in the gut, and the impact of microbial exposure on T cell loss, remain unclear. Understanding mucosal HIV-1 triggered PCD could be advanced by an ex vivo system involving lamina propria mononuclear cells (LPMCs). We therefore modeled the interactions of gut LPMCs, CCR5-tropic HIV-1 and a commensal gut bacterial species, Escherichia coli. In this Lamina Propria Aggregate Culture (LPAC) model, LPMCs were infected with HIV-1BaL by spinoculation and cultured in the presence or absence of heat killed E.coli. CD4+ T cell numbers derived from flow cytometry and viable cell counts were reported relative to mock infection. Viable cells were identified by viability dye exclusion (AqVi), and intracellular HIV-1 Gag p24 protein was used to identify infected cells. Annexin V and AqVi were used to identify apoptotic versus necrotic cells. Caspase-1 and Caspase-3 activities were blocked using specific inhibitors YVAD and DEVD, respectively.
CD4+ T cell depletion following HIV-1 infection was reproducibly observed by 6 days post infection (dpi). Depletion at 6 dpi strongly correlated with infection frequency at 4 dpi, was significantly blocked by Efavirenz treatment, and was primarily driven by p24-negative cells that were predominantly necrotic. HIV-1 infection significantly induced CD4+ T-cell intrinsic Caspase-1 activity, whereas Caspase-1 inhibition, but not Caspase-3 inhibition, significantly blocked CD4+ T cell depletion. Exposure to E.coli enhanced HIV-1 infection and CD4+ T depletion, and significantly increased the number of apoptotic p24+ cells. Notably, CD4+ T cell depletion in the presence of E.coli was partially blocked by Caspase-3, but not by Caspase-1 inhibition.
In the LPAC model, HIV-1 induced Caspase-1 mediated pyroptosis in bystander CD4+ T cells, but microbial exposure shifted the PCD mechanism toward apoptosis of productively infected T cells. These results suggest that mucosal CD4+ T cell death pathways may be altered in HIV-infected individuals after gut barrier function is compromised, with potential consequences for mucosal inflammation, viral dissemination and systemic immune activation.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus; Programmed cell death; Microbial translocation
A small minority of HIV-1-infected individuals show low levels of immune activation and do not develop immunodeficiency despite high viral loads. Since the accessory viral Nef protein modulates T cell activation and plays a key role in the pathogenesis of AIDS, we investigated whether specific properties of Nef may be associated with this highly unusual clinical outcome of HIV-1 infection.
Comprehensive functional analyses of sequential HIV-1 strains from three viremic long-term non-progressors (VNP) showed that they encode full-length Nef proteins that are capable of modulating CD4, CD28, CD8ß, MHC-I and CD74 cell surface expression. Similar to Nef proteins from HIV-1-infected individuals with progressive infection (P-Nefs) and unlike Nefs from simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIVs) that do not cause chronic immune activation and disease in their natural simian hosts, VNP-Nefs were generally unable to down-modulate TCR-CD3 cell surface expression to block T cell activation and apoptosis. On average, VNP-Nefs suppressed NF-AT activation less effectively than P-Nefs and were slightly less active in enhancing NF-κB activity. Finally, we found that VNP-Nefs increased virion infectivity and enhanced HIV-1 replication and cytopathicity in primary human cells and in ex vivo infected lymphoid tissues.
Our results show that nef alleles from VNPs and progressors of HIV-1 infection show only modest differences in established functions. Thus, the lack of chronic immune activation and disease progression in HIV-1-infected VNPs is apparently not associated with unusual functional properties of the accessory viral Nef protein.
HIV-1; Viremic long-term non-progressors; Immune activation; Nef function
SIVMAC/HIV-2 Vpx recruits the CUL4A-DCAF1 E3 ubiquitin ligase complex to degrade the deoxynucleotide hydrolase SAMHD1. This increases the concentration of deoxynucleotides available for reverse transcription in myeloid cells and resting T cells. Accordingly, transduction of these cells by SIVMAC requires Vpx. Virus-like particles containing SIVMAC Vpx (Vpx-VLPs) also increase the efficiency of HIV-1 transduction in these cells, and rescue transduction by HIV-1, but not SIVMAC, in mature monocyte-derived dendritic cells (MDDCs). Differences in Vpx mechanism noted at that time, along with recent data suggesting that SAMHD1 gains additional restriction capabilities in the presence of type I IFN prompted further examination of the role of Vpx and SAMHD1 in HIV-1 transduction of mature MDDCs.
When challenged with Vpx-VLPs, SAMHD1 was degraded in MDDCs even after cells had been matured with LPS, though there was no increase in deoxynucleotide levels. Steady-state levels of HIV-1 late reverse transcription products in mature MDDCs were increased to the same extent by either Vpx-VLPs or exogenous nucleosides. In contrast, only Vpx-VLPs increased the levels of 2-LTR circles and proviral DNA in myeloid cells. These results demonstrate that exogenous nucleosides and Vpx-VLPs both increase the levels of HIV-1 cDNA in myeloid cells, but only Vpx-VLPs rescue 2-LTR circles and proviral DNA in myeloid cells with a previously established antiviral state. Finally, since trans-acting Vpx-VLPs provide long-lasting rescue of HIV-1 vector transduction in the face of the antiviral state, and exogenous nucleosides do not, exogenous nucleosides were used to achieve efficient transduction of MDDCs by vectors that stably encode Vprs and Vpxs from a collection of primate lentiviruses. Vpr from SIVDEB or SIVMUS, Vpx from SIVMAC251 or HIV-2, but not SIVRCM, degraded endogenous SAMHD1, increased steady-state levels of HIV-1 cDNA, and rescued HIV-1 from the antiviral state in MDDCs.
Inhibition of deoxynucleotide hydrolysis by promoting SAMHD1 degradation is not the only mechanism by which Vpx rescues HIV-1 in MDDCs from the antiviral state. Vpx has an additional effect on HIV-1 transduction of these cells that occurs after completion of reverse transcription and acts independently of deoxynucleotide levels.
HIV-1; Vpx; SIV; Dendritic cell; SAMHD1; Interferon; Reverse transcription; Integration
The human peptidyl-prolyl isomerase Cyclophilin A (CypA) binds HIV-1 capsid (CA) and influences early steps in the HIV-1 replication cycle. The mechanism by which CypA regulates HIV-1 transduction efficiency is unknown. Disruption of CypA binding to CA, either by genetic means or by the competitive inhibitor cyclosporine A (CsA), reduces the efficiency of HIV-1 transduction in some cells but not in others. Transduction of certain cell types increases significantly when CypA binding to particular HIV-1 CA mutants, i.e., A92E, is prevented. Previous studies have suggested that this cell type-specific effect is due to a dominant-acting, CypA-dependent restriction factor.
Here we investigated the mechanism by which CypA regulates HIV-1 transduction efficiency using 27 different human cell lines, 32 HeLa subclones, and several previously characterized HIV-1 CA mutants. Disruption of CypA binding to wild-type CA, or to any of the mutant CAs, caused a decrease in HIV-1 reverse transcription in all the cell lines analyzed here. This block to reverse transcription, though, did not correlate with cell type-specific effects on transduction efficiency. The level of 2-LTR circles, a marker for nuclear transport of the viral cDNA that results from reverse transcription, correlated closely with effects on infectivity. No correlation was observed between the cell type-specific effects on infectivity and the steady-state CypA protein levels in these cells. Instead, as indicated by a fate-of-capsid assay, CsA released the HIV-1 CA core from an apparent state of hyperstabilization, in a cell type-specific manner.
These data demonstrate that, while CypA promotes reverse transcription under all conditions tested here, its effect on HIV-1 infectivity correlates more closely with effects on nuclear entry of the viral cDNA. The data also support the hypothesis that a cell-type specific CypA-dependent restriction factor blocks HIV-1 replication by delaying CA core uncoating and hindering nuclear entry.
HIV-1; Cyclophilin A; Cyclosporine A; Capsid; Nuclear transport; Virion uncoating
Human Endogenous Retroviruses (HERVs) comprise about 8% of the human genome and have lost their ability to replicate or to produce infectious particles after having accumulated mutations over time. We assessed the kinetics of expression of HERV-K (HML-2) Envelope mRNA transcript and surface unit (SU) and transmembrane (TM) subunit proteins during HIV-1 infection. We also mapped the specificity of the humoral response to HERV-K (HML-2) Envelope protein in HIV-1 infected subjects at different stages of disease, and correlated the response with plasma viral load.
We found that HIV-1 modified HERV-K (HML-2) Env mRNA expression, resulting in the expression of a fully N-glycosylated HERV-K (HML-2) envelope protein on the cell surface. Serological mapping of HERV-K (HML-2) envelope protein linear epitopes revealed two major immunogenic domains, one on SU and another on the ectodomain of TM. The titers of HERV-K (HML-2) TM antibodies were dramatically increased in HIV-1 infected subjects (p < 0.0001). HIV-1 infected adults who control HIV-1 in the absence of therapy (“elite” controllers) had a higher titer response against TM compared to antiretroviral-treated adults (p < 0.0001) and uninfected adults (p < 0.0001).
These data collectively suggest that HIV-1 infection induces fully glycosylated HERV-K (HML-2) envelope TM protein to which antibodies are induced. These anti-HERV-K (HML-2) TM antibodies are a potential marker of HIV-1 infection, and are at higher titer in elite controllers. HERV-K (HML-2) envelope TM protein may be a new therapeutic target in HIV-1 infection.
HIV; Antibody; HERV; Endogenous retroviruses; Transmembrane; Envelope; Elite controllers; Alternative transcripts
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Gag is the main structural protein that mediates the assembly and release of virus-like particles (VLPs) from an infected cell membrane. The Gag C-terminal p6 domain contains short sequence motifs that facilitate virus release from the plasma membrane and mediate incorporation of the viral Vpr protein. Gag p6 has also been found to be phosphorylated during HIV-1 infection and this event may affect virus replication. However, the kinase that directs the phosphorylation of Gag p6 toward virus replication remains to be identified. In our present study, we identified this kinase using a proteomic approach and further delineate its role in HIV-1 replication.
A proteomic approach was designed to systematically identify human protein kinases that potently interact with HIV-1 Gag and successfully identified 22 candidates. Among this panel, atypical protein kinase C (aPKC) was found to phosphorylate HIV-1 Gag p6. Subsequent LC-MS/MS and immunoblotting analysis with a phospho-specific antibody confirmed both in vitro and in vivo that aPKC phosphorylates HIV-1 Gag at Ser487. Computer-assisted structural modeling and a subsequent cell-based assay revealed that this phosphorylation event is necessary for the interaction between Gag and Vpr and results in the incorporation of Vpr into virions. Moreover, the inhibition of aPKC activity reduced the Vpr levels in virions and impaired HIV-1 infectivity of human primary macrophages.
Our current results indicate for the first time that HIV-1 Gag phosphorylation on Ser487 is mediated by aPKC and that this kinase may regulate the incorporation of Vpr into HIV-1 virions and thereby supports virus infectivity. Furthermore, aPKC inhibition efficiently suppresses HIV-1 infectivity in macrophages. aPKC may therefore be an intriguing therapeutic target for HIV-1 infection.
HIV-1 infection; Phosphorylation; Vpr; aPKC
A key goal for HIV-1 envelope immunogen design is the induction of cross-reactive neutralizing antibodies (nAbs). As AIDS vaccine recipients will not be exposed to strains exactly matching any immunogens due to multiple HIV-1 quasispecies circulating in the human population worldwide, heterologous SHIV challenges are essential for realistic vaccine efficacy testing in primates. We assessed whether polyclonal IgG, isolated from rhesus monkeys (RMs) with high-titer nAbs (termed SHIVIG), could protect RMs against the R5-tropic tier-2 SHIV-2873Nip, which was heterologous to the viruses or HIV-1 envelopes that had elicited SHIVIG.
SHIVIG demonstrated binding to HIV Gag, Tat, and Env of different clades and competed with the broadly neutralizing antibodies b12, VRC01, 4E10, and 17b. SHIVIG neutralized tier 1 and tier 2 viruses, including SHIV-2873Nip. NK-cell depletion decreased the neutralizing activity of SHIVIG 20-fold in PBMC assays. Although SHIVIG neutralized SHIV-2873Nip in vitro, this polyclonal IgG preparation failed to prevent acquisition after repeated intrarectal low-dose virus challenges, but at a dose of 400 mg/kg, it significantly lowered peak viremia (P = 0.001). Unexpectedly, single-genome analysis revealed a higher number of transmitted variants at the low dose of 25 mg/kg, implying increased acquisition at low SHIVIG levels. In vitro, SHIVIG demonstrated complement-mediated Ab-dependent enhancement of infection (C’-ADE) at concentrations similar to those observed in plasmas of RMs treated with 25 mg/kg of SHIVIG.
Our primate model data suggest a dual role for polyclonal anti-HIV-1 Abs depending on plasma levels upon virus encounter.
Macaque model; Heterologous R5 SHIV clade C challenge; SHIVIG; Passive immunization; Enhancement of infection; Non-human primate model
First-generation integrase strand-transfer inhibitors (INSTIs), such as raltegravir (RAL) and elvitegravir (EVG), have been clinically proven to be effective antiretrovirals for the treatment of HIV-positive patients. However, their relatively low genetic barrier for resistance makes them susceptible to the emergence of drug resistance mutations. In contrast, dolutegravir (DTG) is a newer INSTI that appears to have a high genetic barrier to resistance in vivo. However, the emergence of the resistance mutation R263K followed by the polymorphic substitution M50I has been observed in cell culture. The M50I polymorphism is also observed in 10-25% of INSTI-naïve patients and has been reported in combination with R263K in a patient failing treatment with RAL.
Using biochemical cell-free strand-transfer assays and resistance assays in TZM-bl cells, we demonstrate that the M50I polymorphism in combination with R263K increases resistance to DTG in tissue culture and in biochemical assays but does not restore the viral fitness cost associated with the R263K mutation.
Since the combination of the R263K mutation and the M50I polymorphism results in a virus with decreased viral fitness and limited cross-resistance, the R263K resistance pathway may represent an evolutionary dead-end. Although this hypothesis has not yet been proven, it may be more advantageous to treat HIV-positive individuals with DTG in first-line than in second or third-line therapy.
HIV integrase; Subtype B; Antiretrovirals; R263K; Resistance mutation; M50I; Polymorphism; INSTI-naïve
The discovery of novel anti-viral restriction factors illuminates unknown aspects of innate sensing and immunity. We identified RNA-associated Early-stage Anti-viral Factor (REAF) using a whole genome siRNA screen for restriction factors to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that act in the early phase of viral replication.
We observed more than 50 fold rescue of HIV-1 infection, using a focus forming unit (FFU) assay, following knockdown of REAF by specific siRNA. Quantitative PCR was used to show that REAF knockdown results in an increase of early and late reverse transcripts which impacts the level of integration. REAF thus appears to act at an early stage of the viral life cycle during reverse transcription. Conversely when REAF is over-expressed in target cells less infected cells are detectable and fewer reverse transcripts are produced. Human REAF can also inhibit HIV-2 and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection. REAF associates with viral nucleic acids and may act to prevent reverse transcription.
This report firmly places REAF alongside APOBECs and SAMHD1 as a potent inhibitor of HIV replication acting early in the replication cycle, just after cell entry. We propose that REAF is part of an anti-viral surveillance system destroying incoming retroviruses. This novel mechanism could apply to invasion of cells by any intracellular pathogen.
Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune demyelinating disease that occurs more frequently in women than in men. Multiple Sclerosis Associated Retrovirus (MSRV) is a member of HERV-W, a multicopy human endogenous retroviral family repeatedly implicated in MS pathogenesis. MSRV envelope protein is elevated in the serum of MS patients and induces inflammation and demyelination but, in spite of this pathogenic potential, its exact genomic origin and mechanism of generation are unknown. A possible link between the HERV-W copy on chromosome Xq22.3, that contains an almost complete open reading frame, and the gender differential prevalence in MS has been suggested.
MSRV transcription levels were higher in MS patients than in controls (U-Mann–Whitney; p = 0.004). Also, they were associated with the clinical forms (Spearman; p = 0.0003) and with the Multiple Sclerosis Severity Score (MSSS) (Spearman; p = 0.016). By mapping a 3 kb region in Xq22.3, including the HERV-W locus, we identified three polymorphisms: rs6622139 (T/C), rs6622140 (G/A) and rs1290413 (G/A). After genotyping 3127 individuals (1669 patients and 1458 controls) from two different Spanish cohorts, we found that in women rs6622139 T/C was associated with MS susceptibility: [χ2; p = 0.004; OR (95% CI) = 0.50 (0.31-0.81)] and severity, since CC women presented lower MSSS scores than CT (U-Mann–Whitney; p = 0.039) or TT patients (U-Mann–Whitney; p = 0.031). Concordantly with the susceptibility conferred in women, rs6622139*T was associated with higher MSRV expression (U-Mann–Whitney; p = 0.003).
Our present work supports the hypothesis of a direct involvement of HERV-W/MSRV in MS pathogenesis, identifying a genetic marker on chromosome X that could be one of the causes underlying the gender differences in MS.
Multiple sclerosis; Human endogenous retrovirus; HERV-W; Multiple sclerosis associated retrovirus; Chromosome x; Sex; Gender differences; Autoimmunity
Increased cellular iron levels are associated with high mortality in HIV-1 infection. Moreover iron is an important cofactor for viral replication, raising the question whether highly divergent lentiviruses actively modulate iron homeostasis. Here, we evaluated the effect on cellular iron uptake upon expression of the accessory protein Nef from different lentiviral strains.
Surface Transferrin receptor (TfR) levels are unaffected by Nef proteins of HIV-1 and its simian precursors but elevated in cells expressing Nefs from most other primate lentiviruses due to reduced TfR internalization. The SIV Nef-mediated reduction of TfR endocytosis is dependent on an N-terminal AP2 binding motif that is not required for downmodulation of CD4, CD28, CD3 or MHCI. Importantly, SIV Nef-induced inhibition of TfR endocytosis leads to the reduction of Transferrin uptake and intracellular iron concentration and is accompanied by attenuated lentiviral replication in macrophages.
Inhibition of Transferrin and thereby iron uptake by SIV Nef might limit viral replication in myeloid cells. Furthermore, this new SIV Nef function could represent a virus-host adaptation that evolved in natural SIV-infected monkeys.
HIV; SIV; Nef; Iron homeostasis; AIDS; Lentiviral replication; Macrophages
Previous studies suggest that active selection limits the number of HIV-1 variants acquired by a newly infected individual from the diverse variants circulating in the transmitting partner. We compared HIV-1 envelopes from 9 newly infected subjects and their linked transmitting partner to explore potential mechanisms for selection.
Recipient virus envelopes had significant genotypic differences compared to those present in the transmitting partner. Recombinant viruses incorporating pools of recipient and transmitter envelopes showed no significant difference in their sensitivity to receptor and fusion inhibitors, suggesting they had relatively similar entry capacity in the presence of low CD4 and CCR5 levels. Aggregate results in primary cells from up to 4 different blood or skin donors showed that viruses with envelopes from the transmitting partner as compared to recipient envelopes replicated more efficiently in CD4+ T cells, monocyte derived dendritic cell (MDDC) – CD4+ T cell co-cultures, Langerhans cells (LCs) – CD4+ T cell co-cultures and CD4+ T cells expressing high levels of the gut homing receptor, α4β7, and demonstrated greater binding to α4β7 high / CD8+ T cells. These transmitter versus recipient envelope virus phenotypic differences, however, were not always consistent among the primary cells from all the different blood or skin donation volunteers.
Although genotypically unique variants are present in newly infected individuals compared to the diverse swarm circulating in the chronically infected transmitting partner, replication in potential early target cells and receptor utilization either do not completely dictate this genetic selection, or these potential transmission phenotypes are lost very soon after HIV-1 acquisition.
HIV-1; Envelope; Transmission; Receptor; Replication; Alpha4 beta7; Dendritic cells; Langerhans cells; Selection
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus type-1 (HIV-1) spreads by cell-free diffusion and by direct cell-to-cell transfer, the latter being a significantly more efficient mode of transmission. Recently it has been suggested that cell-to-cell spread may permit ongoing virus replication in the presence of antiretroviral therapy (ART) based on studies performed using Reverse Transcriptase Inhibitors (RTIs). Protease Inhibitors (PIs) constitute an important component of ART; however whether this class of inhibitors can suppress cell-to-cell transfer of HIV-1 is unexplored. Here we have evaluated the inhibitory effect of PIs during cell-to-cell spread of HIV-1 between T lymphocytes.
Using quantitative assays in cell line and primary cell systems that directly measure the early steps of HIV-1 infection we find that the PIs Lopinavir and Darunavir are equally potent against both cell-free and cell-to-cell spread of HIV-1. We further show that a protease resistant mutant maintains its resistant phenotype during cell-to-cell spread and is transmitted more efficiently than wild-type virus in the presence of drug. By contrast we find that T cell-T cell spread of HIV-1 is 4–20 fold more resistant to inhibition by the RTIs Nevirapine, Zidovudine and Tenofovir. Notably, varying the ratio of infected and uninfected cells in co-culture impacted on the degree of inhibition, indicating that the relative efficacy of ART is dependent on the multiplicity of infection.
We conclude that if the variable effects of antiviral drugs on cell-to-cell virus dissemination of HIV-1 do indeed impact on viral replication and maintenance of viral reservoirs this is likely to be influenced by the antiviral drug class, since PIs appear particularly effective against both modes of HIV-1 spread.
HIV-1; Virological synapse; Cell-cell spread; Protease inhibitor; ART
Human T-cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is an oncogenic retrovirus etiologically associated with adult T-cell leukemia (ATL). The HTLV-1 bZIP factor (HBZ), which is encoded by minus strand of provirus, is expressed in all ATL cases and supports the proliferation of ATL cells. However, the precise mechanism of growth promoting activity of HBZ is poorly understood.
In this study, we showed that HBZ suppressed C/EBPα signaling activation induced by either Tax or C/EBPα. As mechanisms of HBZ-mediated C/EBPα inhibition, we found that HBZ physically interacted with C/EBPα and diminished its DNA binding capacity. Luciferase and immunoprecipitation assays revealed that HBZ repressed C/EBPα activation in a Smad3-dependent manner. In addition, C/EBPα was overexpressed in HTLV-1 infected cell lines and fresh ATL cases. HBZ was able to induce C/EBPα transcription by enhancing its promoter activity. Finally, HBZ selectively modulated the expression of C/EBPα target genes, leading to the impairment of C/EBPα-mediated cell growth suppression.
HBZ, by suppressing C/EBPα signaling, supports the proliferation of HTLV-1 infected cells, which is thought to be critical for oncogenesis.
HTLV-1; HBZ; C/EBPα
We previously demonstrated that primary Th1Th17 cells are highly permissive to HIV-1, whereas Th1 cells are relatively resistant. Molecular mechanisms underlying these differences remain unknown.
Exposure to replication competent and single-round VSV-G pseudotyped HIV strains provide evidence that superior HIV replication in Th1Th17 vs. Th1 cells was regulated by mechanisms located at entry and post-entry levels. Genome-wide transcriptional profiling identified transcripts upregulated (n = 264) and downregulated (n = 235) in Th1Th17 vs. Th1 cells (p-value < 0.05; fold change cut-off 1.3). Gene Set Enrichment Analysis revealed pathways enriched in Th1Th17 (nuclear receptors, trafficking, p38/MAPK, NF-κB, p53/Ras, IL-23) vs. Th1 cells (proteasome, interferon α/β). Differentially expressed genes were classified into biological categories using Gene Ontology. Th1Th17 cells expressed typical Th17 markers (IL-17A/F, IL-22, CCL20, RORC, IL-26, IL-23R, CCR6) and transcripts functionally linked to regulating cell trafficking (CEACAM1, MCAM), activation (CD28, CD40LG, TNFSF13B, TNFSF25, PTPN13, MAP3K4, LTB, CTSH), transcription (PPARγ, RUNX1, ATF5, ARNTL), apoptosis (FASLG), and HIV infection (CXCR6, FURIN). Differential expression of CXCR6, PPARγ, ARNTL, PTPN13, MAP3K4, CTSH, SERPINB6, PTK2, and ISG20 was validated by RT-PCR, flow cytometry and/or confocal microscopy. The nuclear receptor PPARγ was preferentially expressed by Th1Th17 cells. PPARγ RNA interference significantly increased HIV replication at levels post-entry and prior HIV-DNA integration. Finally, the activation of PPARγ pathway via the agonist Rosiglitazone induced the nuclear translocation of PPARγ and a robust inhibition of viral replication.
Thus, transcriptional profiling in Th1Th17 vs. Th1 cells demonstrated that HIV permissiveness is associated with a superior state of cellular activation and limited antiviral properties and identified PPARγ as an intrinsic negative regulator of viral replication. Therefore, triggering PPARγ pathway via non-toxic agonists may contribute to limiting covert HIV replication and disease progression during antiretroviral treatment.
HIV; CD4+ T-cells; Th1Th17; Th1; cDNA microarrays; PPARγ
A subset of CD3negCD56negCD16+ Natural Killer (NK) cells is highly expanded during chronic HIV-1 infection. The role of this subset in HIV-1 pathogenesis remains unclear. The lack of NK cell lineage-specific markers has complicated the study of minor NK cell subpopulations.
Using CD7 as an additional NK cell marker, we found that CD3negCD56negCD16+ cells are a heterogeneous population comprised of CD7+ NK cells and CD7neg non-classical myeloid cells. CD7+CD56negCD16+ NK cells are significantly expanded in HIV-1 infection. CD7+CD56negCD16+ NK cells are mature and express KIRs, the C-type lectin-like receptors NKG2A and NKG2C, and natural cytotoxicity receptors similar to CD7+CD56+CD16+ NK cells. CD7+CD56neg NK cells in healthy donors produced minimal IFNγ following K562 target cell or IL-12 plus IL-18 stimulation; however, they degranulated in response to K562 stimulation similar to CD7+CD56+ NK cells. HIV-1 infection resulted in reduced IFNγ secretion following K562 or cytokine stimulation by both NK cell subsets compared to healthy donors. Decreased granzyme B and perforin expression and increased expression of CD107a in the absence of stimulation, particularly in HIV-1-infected subjects, suggest that CD7+CD56negCD16+ NK cells may have recently engaged target cells. Furthermore, CD7+CD56negCD16+ NK cells have significantly increased expression of CD95, a marker of NK cell activation.
Taken together, CD7+CD56negCD16+ NK cells are activated, mature NK cells that may have recently engaged target cells.
Natural killer cells; NK cells; CD7; Human immunodeficiency virus; HIV-1; HIV pathogenesis; CD56neg NK cells
Host cell proteins, including cellular kinases, are embarked into intact HIV-1 particles. We have previously shown that the Cα catalytic subunit of cAMP-dependent protein kinase is packaged within HIV-1 virions as an enzymatically active form able to phosphorylate a synthetic substrate in vitro (Cartier et al. J. Biol. Chem. 278:35211 (2003)). The present study was conceived to investigate the contribution of HIV-1-associated PKA to the retroviral life cycle.
NL4.3 viruses were produced from cells cultured in the presence of PKA inhibitors H89 (H89-NL4.3) or Myr-PKI (PKI-NL4.3) and analyzed for viral replication. Despite being mature and normally assembled, and containing expected levels of genomic RNA and RT enzymatic activity, such viruses showed poor infectivity. Indeed, infection generated reduced amounts of strong-strop minus strand DNA, while incoming RNA levels in target cells were unaffected. Decreased cDNA synthesis was also evidenced in intact H89-NL4.3 and PKI-NL4.3 cell free particles using endogenous reverse transcription (ERT) experiments. Moreover, similar defects were reproduced when wild type NL4.3 particles preincubated with PKA inhibitors were subjected to ERT reactions.
Altogether, our results indicate that HIV-1-associated PKA is required for early reverse transcription of the retroviral genome both in cell free intact viruses and in target cells. Accordingly, virus-associated PKA behaves as a cofactor of an intraviral process required for optimal reverse transcription and for early post-entry events.
HIV; Reverse transcription; cAMP-dependent kinase
The role of AID/APOBEC proteins in the mammalian immune response against retroviruses and retrotransposons is well established. G to A hypermutations, the hallmark of their cytidine deaminase activity, are present in several mammalian retrotransposons. However, the role of AID/APOBEC proteins in non-mammalian retroelement restriction is not completely understood.
Here we provide the first evidence of anti-retroelement activity of a reptilian APOBEC protein. The green anole lizard A1 protein displayed potent DNA mutator activity and inhibited ex vivo retrotransposition of LINE1 and LINE2 ORF1 protein encoding elements, displaying a mechanism of action similar to that of the human A1 protein. In contrast, the human A3 proteins did not require ORF1 protein to inhibit LINE retrotransposition, suggesting a differential mechanism of anti-LINE action of A1 proteins, which emerged in amniotes, and A3 proteins, exclusive to placental mammals. In accordance, genomic analyses demonstrate differential G to A DNA editing of LINE retrotransposons in the lizard genome, which is also the first evidence for G to A DNA editing in non-mammalian genomes.
Our data suggest that vertebrate APOBEC proteins differentially inhibit the retrotransposition of LINE elements and that the anti-retroelement activity of APOBEC proteins predates mammals.
G to A hypermutation; AID; APOBEC3; ORF1p; Lizard APOBEC1; Zebrafish LINE2; LINE1; Zebrafish APOBEC2; Cytidine deaminase; Retrotransposon
The high prevalence of HIV-associated comorbidities including neurocognitive disorder, high levels of residual inflammatory mediators in the plasma and cerebrospinal fluid and the resurgence of HIV replication upon interruption of antiviral treatment in HIV-1 infected individuals, strongly suggests that despite therapy HIV persists in its cellular targets which include T-lymphocytes and cells of the myeloid lineage. These reservoirs present a major barrier against eradication efforts. Knowledge of the molecular mechanisms used by HIV to modulate innate macrophage immune responses and impair viral clearance is quite limited. To explore the role of HIV in potentially modulating macrophage function through changes in protein expression, we used single-cell analyses with flow cytometry to determine whether, in unpolarized cultures, macrophage surface marker phenotype was altered by HIV infection in a manner that was independent of host genetic background.
These analyses revealed that at several time points post-infection, GFP + HIV-infected macrophages were significantly enriched in the CD14+ fraction (3 to 5-fold, p = .0001) compared to bystander, or uninfected cells in the same culture. However, the enrichment and higher levels of CD14 on HIV expressing macrophages did not depend on the production of HIV Nef. Sixty to eighty percent of macrophages productively infected with HIV after day 28 post-infection were also enriched in the population of cells expressing the activation markers CD69 (2 to 4-fold, p < .0001) and CD86 (2 to 4-fold, p < .0001 ) but suppressed amounts of CD68 (3 to 10-fold, p < .0001) compared to bystander cells. Interestingly, there was no enrichment of CD69 on the surface of HIV producing cells that lacked Nef or expressed a variant of Nef mutated in its SH3-binding domain.
These findings suggest that HIV actively regulates the expression of a subset of surface molecules involved in innate and inflammatory immune signaling in primary human macrophages through Nef-dependent and Nef-independent mechanisms acting within productively infected cells.
Single-cell analysis; CD14; CD69; CD86; CD68; Flow cytometry; Macrophage plasticity; Macrophage receptors; Reservoir
Sialic acid-binding Ig-like lectin-7 (Siglec-7) expression is strongly reduced on natural killer (NK) cells from HIV-1 infected viremic patients. To investigate the mechanism(s) underlying this phenomenon, we hypothesized that Siglec-7 could contribute to the infection of CD4pos target cells following its interaction with HIV-1 envelope (Env) glycoprotein 120 (gp120).
The ability of Siglec-7 to bind gp120 Env in a sialic acid-dependent manner facilitates the infection of both T cells and monocyte-derived macrophages (MDMs). Indeed, pre-incubation of HIV-1 with soluble Siglec-7 (sSiglec-7) increases the infection rate of CD4pos T cells, which do not constitutively express Siglec-7. Conversely, selective blockade of Siglec-7 markedly reduces the degree of HIV-1 infection in Siglec-7pos MDMs. Finally, the sSiglec-7 amount is increased in the serum of AIDS patients with high levels of HIV-1 viremia and inversely correlates with CD4pos T cell counts.
Our results show that Siglec-7 binds HIV-1 and contributes to enhance the susceptibility to infection of CD4pos T cells and MDMs. This phenomenon plays a role in HIV-1 pathogenesis and in disease progression, as suggested by the inverse correlation between high serum level of sSiglec-7 and the low CD4pos T cell count observed in AIDS patients in the presence of chronic viral replication.
HIV-1 infection; Siglec-7; CD4+ T cells; Macrophages; AIDS patients
We examined the underlying mechanism of action of the peptide triazole thiol, KR13 that has been shown previously to specifically bind gp120, block cell receptor site interactions and potently inhibit HIV-1 infectivity.
KR13, the sulfhydryl blocked KR13b and its parent non-sulfhydryl peptide triazole, HNG156, induced gp120 shedding but only KR13 induced p24 capsid protein release. The resulting virion post virolysis had an altered morphology, contained no gp120, but retained gp41 that bound to neutralizing gp41 antibodies. Remarkably, HIV-1 p24 release by KR13 was inhibited by enfuvirtide, which blocks formation of the gp41 6-helix bundle during membrane fusion, while no inhibition of p24 release occurred for enfuvirtide-resistant virus. KR13 thus appears to induce structural changes in gp41 normally associated with membrane fusion and cell entry. The HIV-1 p24 release induced by KR13 was observed in several clades of HIV-1 as well as in fully infectious HIV-1 virions.
The antiviral activity of KR13 and its ability to inactivate virions prior to target cell engagement suggest that peptide triazole thiols could be highly effective in inhibiting HIV transmission across mucosal barriers and provide a novel probe to understand biochemical signals within envelope that are involved in membrane fusion.
Elite Controllers or Suppressors (ES) are HIV-1 positive individuals who maintain plasma viral loads below the limit of detection of standard clinical assays without antiretroviral therapy. Multiple lines of evidence suggest that the control of viral replication in these patients is due to a strong and specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) response. The ability of CD8+ T cells to control HIV-1 replication is believed to be impaired by the development of escape mutations. Surprisingly, viruses amplified from the plasma of ES have been shown to contain multiple escape mutations, and it is not clear how immunologic control is maintained in the face of virologic escape.
We investigated the effect of escape mutations within HLA*B-57-restricted Gag epitopes on the CD8+ T cell mediated suppression of HIV-1 replication. Using site directed mutagenesis, we constructed six NL4-3 based viruses with canonical escape mutations in one to three HLA*B-57-restricted Gag epitopes. Interestingly, similar levels of CTL-mediated suppression of replication in autologous primary CD4+ T cells were observed for all of the escape mutants. Intracellular cytokine staining was performed in order to determine the mechanisms involved in the suppression of the escape variants. While low baseline CD8+ T cells responses to wild type and escape variant peptides were seen, stimulation of PBMC with either wild type or escape variant peptides resulted in increased IFN-γ and perforin expression.
These data presented demonstrate that CD8+ T cells from ES are capable of suppressing replication of virus harboring escape mutations in HLA-B*57-restricted Gag epitopes. Additionally, our data suggest that ES CD8+ T cells are capable of generating effective de novo responses to escape mutants.
HIV-1; Elite suppressor; Elite controller; Escape mutation; CTL