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1.  Transfer of the Amino-Terminal Nuclear Envelope Targeting Domain of Human MX2 Converts MX1 into an HIV-1 Resistance Factor 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(16):9017-9026.
The myxovirus resistance 2 (MX2) protein of humans has been identified recently as an interferon (IFN)-inducible inhibitor of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) that acts at a late postentry step of infection to prevent the nuclear accumulation of viral cDNA (C. Goujon et al., Nature 502:559–562, 2013,; M. Kane et al., Nature 502:563–566, 2013,; Z. Liu et al., Cell Host Microbe 14:398–410, 2013, In contrast, the closely related human MX1 protein, which suppresses infection by a range of RNA and DNA viruses (such as influenza A virus [FluAV]), is ineffective against HIV-1. Using a panel of engineered chimeric MX1/2 proteins, we demonstrate that the amino-terminal 91-amino-acid domain of MX2 confers full anti-HIV-1 function when transferred to the amino terminus of MX1, and that this fusion protein retains full anti-FluAV activity. Confocal microscopy experiments further show that this MX1/2 fusion, similar to MX2 but not MX1, can localize to the nuclear envelope (NE), linking HIV-1 inhibition with MX accumulation at the NE. MX proteins are dynamin-like GTPases, and while MX1 antiviral function requires GTPase activity, neither MX2 nor MX1/2 chimeras require this attribute to inhibit HIV-1. This key discrepancy between the characteristics of MX1- and MX2-mediated viral resistance, together with previous observations showing that the L4 loop of the stalk domain of MX1 is a critical determinant of viral substrate specificity, presumably reflect fundamental differences in the mechanisms of antiviral suppression. Accordingly, we propose that further comparative studies of MX proteins will help illuminate the molecular basis and subcellular localization requirements for implementing the noted diversity of virus inhibition by MX proteins.
IMPORTANCE Interferon (IFN) elicits an antiviral state in cells through the induction of hundreds of IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs). The human MX2 protein has been identified as a key effector in the suppression of HIV-1 infection by IFN. Here, we describe a molecular genetic approach, using a collection of chimeric MX proteins, to identify protein domains of MX2 that specify HIV-1 inhibition. The amino-terminal 91-amino-acid domain of human MX2 confers HIV-1 suppressor capabilities upon human and mouse MX proteins and also promotes protein accumulation at the nuclear envelope. Therefore, these studies correlate the cellular location of MX proteins with anti-HIV-1 function and help establish a framework for future mechanistic analyses of MX-mediated virus control.
PMCID: PMC4136259  PMID: 24899177
2.  Human APOBEC3 Induced Mutation of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type-1 Contributes to Adaptation and Evolution in Natural Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(7):e1004281.
Human APOBEC3 proteins are cytidine deaminases that contribute broadly to innate immunity through the control of exogenous retrovirus replication and endogenous retroelement retrotransposition. As an intrinsic antiretroviral defense mechanism, APOBEC3 proteins induce extensive guanosine-to-adenosine (G-to-A) mutagenesis and inhibit synthesis of nascent human immunodeficiency virus-type 1 (HIV-1) cDNA. Human APOBEC3 proteins have additionally been proposed to induce infrequent, potentially non-lethal G-to-A mutations that make subtle contributions to sequence diversification of the viral genome and adaptation though acquisition of beneficial mutations. Using single-cycle HIV-1 infections in culture and highly parallel DNA sequencing, we defined trinucleotide contexts of the edited sites for APOBEC3D, APOBEC3F, APOBEC3G, and APOBEC3H. We then compared these APOBEC3 editing contexts with the patterns of G-to-A mutations in HIV-1 DNA in cells obtained sequentially from ten patients with primary HIV-1 infection. Viral substitutions were highest in the preferred trinucleotide contexts of the edited sites for the APOBEC3 deaminases. Consistent with the effects of immune selection, amino acid changes accumulated at the APOBEC3 editing contexts located within human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-appropriate epitopes that are known or predicted to enable peptide binding. Thus, APOBEC3 activity may induce mutations that influence the genetic diversity and adaptation of the HIV-1 population in natural infection.
Author Summary
Cytidine deaminases of the human APOBEC3 gene family act as an intrinsic defense mechanism against infection with HIV-1 and other viruses. The APOBEC3 proteins introduce mutations into the viral genome by inducing enzymatic modification of nucleotide sequences and inhibiting synthesis of cDNA strands from the viral RNA. Viral Vif counters this impediment to the fidelity of HIV-1 replication by targeting the APOBEC3 proteins for degradation. Low-level APOBEC3 activity that outlasts blockade by viral Vif may foster infrequent mutations that provide a source of genetic variation upon which natural selection acts. Here, we defined the APOBEC3 nucleotide contexts of the edited sites by titration of the wild type and non-editing APOBEC3 mutant in cultured cells. We then followed the patterns of G-to-A mutations we identified in viral DNA in cells obtained from ten patients with acute infection. Our deep sequencing analyses demonstrate an association between sub-lethal APOBEC3 editing and HIV-1 diversification. Mutations at APOBEC3 editing contexts that occurred at particular positions within specific known or predicted epitopes could disrupt peptide binding critical for immune control. Our findings reveal a role for human APOBEC3 in HIV-1 sequence diversification that may influence fitness and evolution of beneficial variants and phenotypes in the population.
PMCID: PMC4117599  PMID: 25080100
3.  Human MX2 is an interferon-induced post-entry inhibitor of HIV-1 infection 
Nature  2013;502(7472):10.1038/nature12542.
Animal cells harbour multiple innate effector mechanisms that inhibit virus replication. For the pathogenic retrovirus human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1), these include widely expressed restriction factors1 such as APOBEC3 proteins2, TRIM5α3, tetherin/BST24,5 and SAMHD16,7, as well as additional factors that are stimulated by type-1 interferon (IFN)8,9,10,11,12,13,14. Here, we employ both ectopic expression and gene silencing experiments to define the human dynamin-like, IFN-induced guanosine triphosphatase (GTPase), myxovirus resistance 2 (MX2 or MxB) protein, as a potent inhibitor of HIV-1 infection and as a major effector of IFNα-mediated resistance to HIV-1 infection. MX2 suppresses infection by all HIV-1 strains tested, has similar to modest effects on divergent simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIVs), and does not inhibit other retroviruses such as murine leukaemia virus (MLV). The capsid (CA) region of the viral Gag protein dictates susceptibility to MX2, and the block to infection occurs at a late post-entry step with the nuclear accumulation and chromosomal integration of nascent viral cDNA both being suppressed. Finally, human MX1 (or MxA), a closely related protein that has long been recognised as a broadly acting inhibitor of RNA/DNA viruses, including the orthomyxovirus influenza A virus15,16, does not affect HIV-1,whereas MX2 is ineffective against influenza virus. MX2 is therefore a cell-autonomous, anti-HIV-1 resistance factor whose purposeful mobilisation may represent a new therapeutic approach for the treatment of HIV/AIDS.
PMCID: PMC3808269  PMID: 24048477
4.  New insights into an X-traordinary viral protein 
Vpx is a protein encoded by members of the HIV-2/SIVsmm and SIVrcm/SIVmnd-2 lineages of primate lentiviruses, and is packaged into viral particles. Vpx plays a critical role during the early steps of the viral life cycle and has been shown to counteract SAMHD1, a restriction factor in myeloid and resting T cells. However, it is becoming evident that Vpx is a multifunctional protein in that SAMHD1 antagonism is likely not its sole role. This review summarizes the current knowledge on this X-traordinary protein.
PMCID: PMC3986551  PMID: 24782834
vpx; HIV-2; SIVsmm; SAMHD1; myeloid cells; HIV-1; restriction factor; interferon type I
5.  Nuclear import of SAMHD1 is mediated by a classical karyopherin α/β1 dependent pathway and confers sensitivity to VpxMAC induced ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation 
Retrovirology  2014;11:29.
The deoxynucleotide-triphosphate (dNTP) hydrolase sterile alpha motif domain and HD domain 1 (SAMHD1) is a nuclear protein that inhibits HIV-1 infection in myeloid cells as well as quiescent CD4 T-cells, by decreasing the intracellular dNTP concentration below a level that is required for efficient reverse transcription. The Vpx proteins of the SIVSMM/HIV-2 lineage of lentiviruses bind SAMHD1 and recruit an ubiquitin ligase, leading to polyubiquitination and proteasomal degradation.
Here, we have investigated the importance of nuclear localization for SAMHD1′s antiviral function as well as its sensitivity to the Vpx protein of SIVMAC. Using GST pull down assays, as well as RNA silencing approaches, we show that SAMHD1 preferentially uses karyopherin α2 (KPNA2) and a classical N-terminal nuclear localization signal (14KRPR17) to enter the nucleus. Reduction of karyopherin β1 (KPNB1) or KPNA2 by RNAi also led to cytoplasmic re-distribution of SAMHD1. Using primary human monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM), a cell type in which SAMHD1 is naturally expressed to high levels, we demonstrate that nuclear localization is not required for its antiviral activity. Cytoplasmic SAMHD1 still binds to VpxMAC, is efficiently polyubiquitinated, but is not degraded. We also find that VpxMAC-induced SAMHD1 degradation was partially reversed by ubiquitin carrying the K48R or K11R substitution mutations, suggesting involvement of K48 and K11 linkages in SAMHD1 polyubiquitination. Using ubiquitin K-R mutants also revealed differences in the ubiquitin linkages between wild type and cytoplasmic forms of SAMHD1, suggesting a potential association with the resistance of cytoplasmic SAMHD1 to VpxMAC induced degradation.
Our work extends published observations on SAMHD1 nuclear localization to a natural cell type for HIV-1 infection, identifies KPNA2/KPNB1 as cellular proteins important for SAMHD1 nuclear import, and indicates that components of the nuclear proteasomal degradation machinery are required for SAMHD1 degradation.
PMCID: PMC4098787  PMID: 24712655
SAMHD1; Nuclear import; Karyopherin; Vpx; Macrophages; HIV-1; NLS; Ubiquitin linkage; Innate immunity; KPNA; KPNB; Impα; Impβ
6.  Insight into the HIV-1 Vif SOCS-box–ElonginBC interaction 
Open Biology  2013;3(11):130100.
The HIV-1 viral infectivity factor (Vif) neutralizes cell-encoded antiviral APOBEC3 proteins by recruiting a cellular ElonginB (EloB)/ElonginC (EloC)/Cullin5-containing ubiquitin ligase complex, resulting in APOBEC3 ubiquitination and proteolysis. The suppressors-of-cytokine-signalling-like domain (SOCS-box) of HIV-1 Vif is essential for E3 ligase engagement, and contains a BC box as well as an unusual proline-rich motif. Here, we report the NMR solution structure of the Vif SOCS–ElonginBC (EloBC) complex. In contrast to SOCS-boxes described in other proteins, the HIV-1 Vif SOCS-box contains only one α-helical domain followed by a β-sheet fold. The SOCS-box of Vif binds primarily to EloC by hydrophobic interactions. The functionally essential proline-rich motif mediates a direct but weak interaction with residues 101–104 of EloB, inducing a conformational change from an unstructured state to a structured state. The structure of the complex and biophysical studies provide detailed insight into the function of Vif's proline-rich motif and reveal novel dynamic information on the Vif–EloBC interaction.
PMCID: PMC3843819  PMID: 24225024
HIV-1 viral infectivity factor; SOCS-box domain; ElonginBC; NMR; solution structure
7.  Post-transcriptional control of HIV-1 Gag expression 
Retrovirology  2013;10(Suppl 1):P87.
PMCID: PMC3848301
8.  Suppression of HIV-1 Infection by APOBEC3 Proteins in Primary Human CD4+ T Cells Is Associated with Inhibition of Processive Reverse Transcription as Well as Excessive Cytidine Deamination 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(3):1508-1517.
The Vif protein of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) promotes viral replication by downregulation of the cell-encoded, antiviral APOBEC3 proteins. These proteins exert their suppressive effects through the inhibition of viral reverse transcription as well as the induction of cytidine deamination within nascent viral cDNA. Importantly, these two effects have not been characterized in detail in human CD4+ T cells, leading to controversies over their possible contributions to viral inhibition in the natural cell targets of HIV-1 replication. Here we use wild-type and Vif-deficient viruses derived from the CD4+ T cells of multiple donors to examine the consequences of APOBEC3 protein function at natural levels of expression. We demonstrate that APOBEC3 proteins impart a profound deficiency to reverse transcription from the initial stages of cDNA synthesis, as well as excessive cytidine deamination (hypermutation) of the DNAs that are synthesized. Experiments using viruses from transfected cells and a novel method for mapping the 3′ termini of cDNAs indicate that the inhibition of reverse transcription is not limited to a few specific sites, arguing that APOBEC3 proteins impede enzymatic processivity. Detailed analyses of mutation spectra in viral cDNA strongly imply that one particular APOBEC3 protein, APOBEC3G, provides the bulk of the antiviral phenotype in CD4+ T cells, with the effects of APOBEC3F and APOBEC3D being less significant. Taken together, we conclude that the dual mechanisms of action of APOBEC3 proteins combine to deliver more effective restriction of HIV-1 than either function would by itself.
PMCID: PMC3554184  PMID: 23152537
9.  HIV-1 Replication and APOBEC3 Antiviral Activity Are Not Regulated by P Bodies 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(21):11712-11724.
The APOBEC3 cytidine deaminases play a critical role in host-mediated defense against exogenous viruses, most notably, human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) and endogenous transposable elements. APOBEC3G and APOBEC3F interact with numerous proteins that regulate cellular RNA metabolism, including components of the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC), and colocalize with a subset of these proteins to mRNA processing bodies (P bodies), which are sites of mRNA translational repression and decay. We sought to determine the role of P bodies and associated proteins in HIV-1 replication and APOBEC3 antiviral activity. While we established a positive correlation between APOBEC3 protein incorporation into virions and localization to P bodies, depletion of the P-body components DDX6 or Lsm1 did not affect HIV-1 replication, APOBEC3 packaging into virions or APOBEC3 protein mediated inhibition of HIV-1 infectivity. In addition, neither HIV-1 genomic RNA nor Gag colocalized with P-body proteins. However, simultaneous depletion of multiple Argonaute family members, the effector proteins of RISC, could modestly increase viral infectivity. Because some APOBEC3 proteins interact with several Argonaute proteins, we also tested whether they could modulate microRNA (miRNA) activity. We found no evidence for the specific regulation of miRNA function by the APOBEC3 proteins, though more general effects on transfected gene expression were observed. In sum, our results indicate that P bodies and certain associated proteins do not regulate HIV-1 replication or APOBEC3 protein antiviral activity. Localization to P bodies may therefore provide a means of sequestering APOBEC3 enzymatic activity away from cellular DNA or may be linked to as yet unidentified cellular functions.
PMCID: PMC3486339  PMID: 22915799
10.  Evidence for IFNα-induced, SAMHD1-independent inhibitors of early HIV-1 infection 
Retrovirology  2013;10:23.
Type I interferon (IFN) treatment of some cells, including dendritic cells, macrophages and monocytic THP-1 cells, restricts HIV-1 infection and prevents viral cDNA accumulation. Sterile alpha motif and HD domain protein 1 (SAMHD1), a dGTP-regulated deoxynucleotide triphosphohydrolase, reduces HIV-1 infectivity in myeloid cells, likely by limiting dNTPs available for reverse transcription, and has been described as IFNα-inducible. Myeloid cell infection by HIV-1 is enhanced by HIV-2/SIVSM Vpx, which promotes SAMHD1 degradation, or by exogenous deoxyribonucleoside (dN) addition.
SAMHD1 expression was not substantially influenced by IFNα treatment of monocyte-derived macrophages or THP-1 cells. The contributions of SAMHD1 to the inhibition of HIV-1 infectivity by IFNα were assessed through the provision of Vpx, exogenous dN addition, or via RNAi-mediated SAMHD1 knock-down. Both Vpx and dN efficiently restored infection in IFNα-treated macrophages, albeit not to the levels seen with these treatments in the absence of IFNα. Similarly using differentiated THP-1 cells, the addition of Vpx or dNs, or SAMHD1 knock-down, also stimulated infection, but failing to match the levels observed without IFNα. Neither Vpx addition nor SAMHD1 knock-down reversed the IFNα-induced blocks to HIV-1 infection seen in dividing U87-MG or THP-1 cells. Therefore, altered SAMHD1 expression or function cannot account for the IFNα-induced restriction to HIV-1 infection seen in many cells and cell lines.
IFNα establishes an anti-HIV-1 phenotype in many cell types, and appears to accomplish this without potentiating SAMHD1 function. We conclude that additional IFNα-induced suppressors of the early stages of HIV-1 infection await identification.
PMCID: PMC3598776  PMID: 23442224
HIV-1; Interferon; Restriction; Macrophages; SAMHD1; Vpx; Deoxyribonucleosides
12.  How Representative Are Research Tissue Biobanks of the Local Populations? Experience of the Infectious Diseases Biobank at King's College, London, UK 
Biopreservation and Biobanking  2011;9(3):287-288.
Biobanks have a primary responsibility to collect tissues that are a true reflection of their local population and thereby promote translational research, which is applicable to the community. The Infectious Diseases BioBank (IDB) at King's College London is located in the southeast of the city, an area that is ethnically diverse. Transplantation programs have frequently reported a low rate of donation among some ethnic minorities. To determine whether patients who volunteered peripheral venous blood samples to the IDB were representative of the local community, we compared local government demographic data to characteristics of patients who have donated to the IDB. There was a good match between these statistics, indicating that the IDB's volunteer population of human immunodeficiency virus patients was similar to local demographics.
PMCID: PMC3178420  PMID: 21977243
13.  Endogenous MOV10 inhibits the retrotransposition of endogenous retroelements but not the replication of exogenous retroviruses 
Retrovirology  2012;9:53.
The identification of cellular factors that regulate the replication of exogenous viruses and endogenous mobile elements provides fundamental understanding of host-pathogen relationships. MOV10 is a superfamily 1 putative RNA helicase that controls the replication of several RNA viruses and whose homologs are necessary for the repression of endogenous mobile elements. Here, we employ both ectopic expression and gene knockdown approaches to analyse the role of human MOV10 in the replication of a panel of exogenous retroviruses and endogenous retroelements.
MOV10 overexpression substantially decreased the production of infectious retrovirus particles, as well the propagation of LTR and non-LTR endogenous retroelements. Most significantly, RNAi-mediated silencing of endogenous MOV10 enhanced the replication of both LTR and non-LTR endogenous retroelements, but not the production of infectious retrovirus particles demonstrating that natural levels of MOV10 suppress retrotransposition, but have no impact on infection by exogenous retroviruses. Furthermore, functional studies showed that MOV10 is not necessary for miRNA or siRNA-mediated mRNA silencing.
We have identified novel specificity for human MOV10 in the control of retroelement replication and hypothesise that MOV10 may be a component of a cellular pathway or process that selectively regulates the replication of endogenous retroelements in somatic cells.
PMCID: PMC3408377  PMID: 22727223
MOV10; Retrovirus; Retrotransposon; APOBEC3
14.  Target Cell-Mediated Editing of HIV-1 cDNA by APOBEC3 Proteins in Human Macrophages ▿  
Journal of Virology  2011;85(24):13448-13452.
Apolipoprotein B mRNA-editing enzyme catalytic polypeptide-like 3 (APOBEC3) proteins are encapsidated by assembling HIV-1 virions and edit viral cDNA in the next round of infection. Using alpha interferon (IFN-α)-treated monocyte-derived macrophages, we show that infrequent editing of HIV-1 reverse transcripts can also be mediated by APOBEC3 proteins supplied by the targets of infection. Based on the local sequence contexts of these mutations and the established characteristics of APOBEC3 protein expression in myeloid cells, we speculate that APOBEC3A may be responsible for a substantial proportion of this activity.
PMCID: PMC3233168  PMID: 21957290
15.  HIV Restriction Factors and Mechanisms of Evasion 
Retroviruses have long been a fertile model for discovering host–pathogen interactions and their associated biological principles and processes. These advances have not only informed fundamental concepts of viral replication and pathogenesis but have also provided novel insights into host cell biology. This is illustrated by the recent descriptions of host-encoded restriction factors that can serve as effective inhibitors of retroviral replication. Here, we review our understanding of the three restriction factors that have been widely shown to be potent inhibitors of HIV-1: namely, APOBEC3G, TRIM5α, and tetherin. In each case, we discuss how these unrelated proteins were identified, the mechanisms by which they inhibit replication, the means used by HIV-1 to evade their action, and their potential contributions to viral pathogenesis as well as inter- and intraspecies transmission.
Host-encoded restriction factors (e.g., APOBEC3G, TRIM5β , and tetherin) inhibit HIV-1 replication in nonhuman cells. However, HIV-1 generally evades these potent inhibitory activities in human cells.
PMCID: PMC3331687  PMID: 22553496
16.  Evolution of a Species-Specific Determinant within Human CRM1 that Regulates the Post-transcriptional Phases of HIV-1 Replication 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(11):e1002395.
The human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) Rev protein regulates the nuclear export of intron-containing viral RNAs by recruiting the CRM1 nuclear export receptor. Here, we employed a combination of functional and phylogenetic analyses to identify and characterize a species-specific determinant within human CRM1 (hCRM1) that largely overcomes established defects in murine cells to the post-transcriptional stages of the HIV-1 life cycle. hCRM1 expression in murine cells promotes the cytoplasmic accumulation of intron-containing viral RNAs, resulting in a substantial stimulation of the net production of infectious HIV-1 particles. These stimulatory effects require a novel surface-exposed element within HEAT repeats 9A and 10A, discrete from the binding cleft previously shown to engage Rev's leucine-rich nuclear export signal. Moreover, we show that this element is a unique feature of higher primate CRM1 proteins, and discuss how this sequence has evolved from a non-functional, ancestral sequence.
Author Summary
HIV-1 requires multiple cellular co-factors to replicate, and non-human cells often carry species-specific variations in the genes encoding these co-factors that can prevent efficient replication. Here, the basis for murine cell-specific deficiencies in the late steps of HIV-1 replication is addressed. We show that differences between the mouse and human forms of the essential host protein CRM1, a protein required for the transport of macromolecules from the nucleus to the cytoplasm, underlie this problem. More precisely, murine CRM1, unlike its human counterpart, fails to fully support the function of the HIV-1 Rev protein, a factor necessary to transport viral RNAs to the cytoplasm. Key amino acid differences between the mouse/human CRM1 proteins are identified and computational analyses of divergent animal CRM1 proteins reveal a unique motif in higher primates likely acquired in response to ancient evolutionary pressures. This CRM1 element may represent a novel pathogen interaction site that evolved to evade prior infections, but is now contributing to the susceptibility of humans to HIV-1.
PMCID: PMC3219727  PMID: 22114565
17.  Exploiting replication deficiencies to illuminate HIV: host interactions 
Retrovirology  2011;8(Suppl 2):O6.
PMCID: PMC3236891
20.  Human APOBEC3G-Mediated Editing Can Promote HIV-1 Sequence Diversification and Accelerate Adaptation to Selective Pressure▿  
Journal of Virology  2010;84(19):10402-10405.
Human apolipoprotein B mRNA-editing enzyme catalytic polypeptide-like 3G (APOBEC3G, hereinafter referred to as A3G) is an innate virus restriction factor that inhibits human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) replication and induces excessive deamination of cytidine residues in nascent reverse transcripts. To test the hypothesis that this enzyme can also help generate viral sequence diversification and the evolution of beneficial viral variants, we have examined the impact of A3G on the acquisition of (−)2′,3′-dideoxy-3′-thiacytidine (3TC) resistance in vitro. That characteristic resistance mutations are rapidly fixed in the presence of A3G and 3TC suggests that A3G-mediated editing can be an important source of genetic variation on which natural selection acts to shape the structure of HIV-1 populations.
PMCID: PMC2937764  PMID: 20660203
21.  Characterization of the Alpha Interferon-Induced Postentry Block to HIV-1 Infection in Primary Human Macrophages and T Cells ▿  
Journal of Virology  2010;84(18):9254-9266.
Type I interferon (IFN) inhibits virus replication by activating multiple antiviral mechanisms and pathways. It has long been recognized that alpha interferon (IFN-α) can potently block both early and late stages of HIV-1 replication. The mechanistic basis for the early block(s) to infection is unknown, as is the identity of the participating antiviral factor(s). Here, we define the effect(s) of IFN-α on HIV-1 infection of primary human macrophages and CD4+ T cells, as well as several monocytic and T-cell lines. We demonstrate that IFN-α treatment of macrophages, THP-1 cells, and, to a lesser extent, primary CD4+ T cells markedly inhibits infection, whereas the effects are minimal in CD4+ T-cell lines. Virus entry is essentially unaffected by IFN-α, but substantial decreases (sometimes >99%) in nascent cDNA accumulation correlate closely with losses in infectivity. Interestingly, proteasome inhibitors rescue viral cDNA accumulation, revealing a link between the ubiquitin-proteasome system and IFN-α-induced viral restriction. We also found that diverse primate and nonprimate retroviruses were susceptible to suppression by IFN-α. Importantly, all the primary and immortalized cells used here are proficient at responding to IFN-α, as judged by the induced expression of numerous IFN-stimulated genes, including PKR and OAS1, indicating that a general deficiency in IFN-α responsiveness does not underlie IFN-α's inability to elicit an antiviral state in CD4+ T-cell lines. Rather, we speculate that IFN-α fails to induce antiretroviral factors in these cells and that comparative transcriptional profiling with responsive cells, such as macrophages, invokes a strategy for identifying new host-encoded antiviral effectors.
PMCID: PMC2937661  PMID: 20610724
22.  SRp40 and SRp55 Promote the Translation of Unspliced Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 RNA▿  
Journal of Virology  2010;84(13):6748-6759.
Nuclear RNA processing events, such as 5′ cap formation, 3′ polyadenylation, and pre-mRNA splicing, mark mRNA for efficient translation. Splicing enhances translation via the deposition of the exon-junction complex and other multifunctional splicing factors, including SR proteins. All retroviruses synthesize their structural and enzymatic proteins from unspliced genomic RNAs (gRNAs) and must therefore exploit unconventional strategies to ensure their effective expression. Here, we report that specific SR proteins, particularly SRp40 and SRp55, promote human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Gag translation from unspliced (intron-containing) viral RNA. This activity does not correlate with nucleocytoplasmic shuttling capacity and, in the case of SRp40, is dependent on the second RNA recognition motif and the arginine-serine (RS) domain. While SR proteins enhance Gag expression independent of RNA nuclear export pathway choice, altering the nucleotide sequence of the gag-pol coding region by codon optimization abolishes this effect. We therefore propose that SR proteins couple HIV-1 gRNA biogenesis to translational utilization.
PMCID: PMC2903291  PMID: 20427542
23.  Rationalisation of the Differences between APOBEC3G Structures from Crystallography and NMR Studies by Molecular Dynamics Simulations 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(7):e11515.
The human APOBEC3G (A3G) protein is a cellular polynucleotide cytidine deaminase that acts as a host restriction factor of retroviruses, including HIV-1 and various transposable elements. Recently, three NMR and two crystal structures of the catalytic deaminase domain of A3G have been reported, but these are in disagreement over the conformation of a terminal β-strand, β2, as well as the identification of a putative DNA binding site. We here report molecular dynamics simulations with all of the solved A3G catalytic domain structures, taking into account solubility enhancing mutations that were introduced during derivation of three out of the five structures. In the course of these simulations, we observed a general trend towards increased definition of the β2 strand for those structures that have a distorted starting conformation of β2. Solvent density maps around the protein as calculated from MD simulations indicated that this distortion is dependent on preferential hydration of residues within the β2 strand. We also demonstrate that the identification of a pre-defined DNA binding site is prevented by the inherent flexibility of loops that determine access to the deaminase catalytic core. We discuss the implications of our analyses for the as yet unresolved structure of the full-length A3G protein and its biological functions with regard to hypermutation of DNA.
PMCID: PMC2902501  PMID: 20635000
24.  The SOCS-Box of HIV-1 Vif Interacts with ElonginBC by Induced-Folding to Recruit Its Cul5-Containing Ubiquitin Ligase Complex 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(6):e1000925.
The HIV-1 viral infectivity factor (Vif) protein recruits an E3 ubiquitin ligase complex, comprising the cellular proteins elongin B and C (EloBC), cullin 5 (Cul5) and RING-box 2 (Rbx2), to the anti-viral proteins APOBEC3G (A3G) and APOBEC3F (A3F) and induces their polyubiquitination and proteasomal degradation. In this study, we used purified proteins and direct in vitro binding assays, isothermal titration calorimetry and NMR spectroscopy to describe the molecular mechanism for assembly of the Vif-EloBC ternary complex. We demonstrate that Vif binds to EloBC in two locations, and that both interactions induce structural changes in the SOCS box of Vif as well as EloBC. In particular, in addition to the previously established binding of Vif's BC box to EloC, we report a novel interaction between the conserved Pro-Pro-Leu-Pro motif of Vif and the C-terminal domain of EloB. Using cell-based assays, we further show that this interaction is necessary for the formation of a functional ligase complex, thus establishing a role of this motif. We conclude that HIV-1 Vif engages EloBC via an induced-folding mechanism that does not require additional co-factors, and speculate that these features distinguish Vif from other EloBC specificity factors such as cellular SOCS proteins, and may enhance the prospects of obtaining therapeutic inhibitors of Vif function.
Author Summary
HIV-1 is the etiologic agent of AIDS. Current therapies are based on cocktails of anti-viral drugs that inhibit viral enzymes essential for virus replication, but this strategy has several shortcomings, including the development of drug-resistant virus strains. Consequently, pharmacologic strategies that interfere with additional aspects of HIV-1 replication have the potential to enhance HIV-1 treatments. The HIV-1 Vif protein is a promising target for the development of new anti-HIV-1 therapeutics; it functions to counteract the cellular proteins A3G and A3F, two components of a human anti-viral defence mechanism. Vif accomplishes this by hijacking a cellular complex (comprising the proteins EloB, EloC, Cul5 and Rbx2), which then eliminates A3G and A3F from infected cells by degradation, therefore evading their anti-viral effect. Here, we used purified proteins to reconstitute in vitro the recruitment of this complex by HIV-1 Vif. Using structural and biochemical methods, we dissected the different events involved in Vif's interaction with the EloBC complex. Our results reveal fundamental differences with cellular proteins known to recruit this complex, suggesting that Vif possesses unique features that could be targeted by pharmacologic intervention, without disturbing normal cell functions. The assays reported here could be utilized for the discovery of such inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC2880568  PMID: 20532212
25.  APOBEC proteins and intrinsic resistance to HIV-1 infection 
Members of the APOBEC family of cellular polynucleotide cytidine deaminases, most notably APOBEC3G and APOBEC3F, are potent inhibitors of HIV-1 infection. Wild type HIV-1 infections are largely spared from APOBEC3G/F function through the action of the essential viral protein, Vif. In the absence of Vif, APOBEC3G/F are encapsidated by budding virus particles leading to excessive cytidine (C) to uridine (U) editing of negative sense reverse transcripts in newly infected cells. This registers as guanosine (G) to adenosine (A) hypermutations in plus-stranded cDNA. In addition to this profoundly debilitating effect on genetic integrity, APOBEC3G/F also appear to inhibit viral DNA synthesis by impeding the translocation of reverse transcriptase along template RNA. Because the functions of Vif and APOBEC3G/F proteins oppose each other, it is likely that fluctuations in the Vif–APOBEC balance may influence the natural history of HIV-1 infection, as well as viral sequence diversification and evolution. Given Vif's critical role in suppressing APOBEC3G/F function, it can be argued that pharmacologic strategies aimed at restoring the activity of these intrinsic anti-viral factors in the context of infected cells in vivo have clear therapeutic merit, and therefore deserve aggressive pursuit.
PMCID: PMC2660912  PMID: 19038776
HIV-1; APOBEC3G; Vif; hypermutation; reverse transcription

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