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1.  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
2.  Post-transcriptional control of HIV-1 Gag expression 
Retrovirology  2013;10(Suppl 1):P87.
PMCID: PMC3848301
3.  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
4.  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
5.  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
7.  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
8.  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
9.  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
10.  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
11.  Absence of HIV-1 Evolution in the Gut-Associated Lymphoid Tissue from Patients on Combination Antiviral Therapy Initiated during Primary Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2012;8(2):e1002506.
Mucosal mononuclear (MMC) CCR5+CD4+ T cells of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract are selectively infected and depleted during acute HIV-1 infection. Despite early initiation of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART), gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) CD4+ T cell depletion and activation persist in the majority of HIV-1 positive individuals studied. This may result from ongoing HIV-1 replication and T-cell activation despite effective cART. We hypothesized that ongoing viral replication in the GI tract during cART would result in measurable viral evolution, with divergent populations emerging over time. Subjects treated during early HIV-1 infection underwent phlebotomy and flexible sigmoidoscopy with biopsies prior to and 15–24 months post initiation of cART. At the 2nd biopsy, three GALT phenotypes were noted, characterized by high, intermediate and low levels of immune activation. A representative case from each phenotype was analyzed. Each subject had plasma HIV-1 RNA levels <50 copies/ml at 2nd GI biopsy and CD4+ T cell reconstitution in the peripheral blood. Single genome amplification of full-length HIV-1 envelope was performed for each subject pre- and post-initiation of cART in GALT and PBMC. A total of 280 confirmed single genome sequences (SGS) were analyzed for experimental cases. For each subject, maximum likelihood phylogenetic trees derived from molecular sequence data showed no evidence of evolved forms in the GALT over the study period. During treatment, HIV-1 envelope diversity in GALT-derived SGS did not increase and post-treatment GALT-derived SGS showed no substantial genetic divergence from pre-treatment sequences within transmitted groups. Similar results were obtained from PBMC-derived SGS. Our results reveal that initiation of cART during acute/early HIV-1 infection can result in the interruption of measurable viral evolution in the GALT, suggesting the absence of de-novo rounds of HIV-1 replication in this compartment during suppressive cART.
Author Summary
This study was undertaken to determine if the gastrointestinal tract is a site of ongoing viral replication during suppressive combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) (defined by plasma HIV-1 RNA levels below 50 copies/ml). We found no evidence of substantial viral evolution in HIV-1 envelope sequences derived from peripheral blood mononuclear cells or cells of the gastrointestinal tract lymphoid tissue in participants initiating cART during early HIV-1 infection. To our knowledge, this is the first application of the single genome amplification technique to the comparative analysis of HIV-1 quasi-species derived from the gastrointestinal tract, demonstrating that in these individuals, cART has the ability to halt measurable evolution of HIV-1 envelope in this compartment. These findings suggest the absence of de-novo rounds of HIV-1 replication during suppressive cART and by extension, that experimentally observed, persistently elevated levels of immune activation in the gastrointestinal lymphoid tissue seen after the early initiation and uninterrupted use of cART (despite relative immune reconstitution in the blood) is likely due to factors other than ongoing viral replication. This implies that in this virally suppressed population, cART intensification is unlikely to significantly impact persistent CD4+ T cell depletion or increased levels of immune activation in the gastrointestinal tract.
PMCID: PMC3271083  PMID: 22319447
12.  SAMHD1-Deficient CD14+ Cells from Individuals with Aicardi-Goutières Syndrome Are Highly Susceptible to HIV-1 Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2011;7(12):e1002425.
Myeloid blood cells are largely resistant to infection with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). Recently, it was reported that Vpx from HIV-2/SIVsm facilitates infection of these cells by counteracting the host restriction factor SAMHD1. Here, we independently confirmed that Vpx interacts with SAMHD1 and targets it for ubiquitin-mediated degradation. We found that Vpx-mediated SAMHD1 degradation rendered primary monocytes highly susceptible to HIV-1 infection; Vpx with a T17A mutation, defective for SAMHD1 binding and degradation, did not show this activity. Several single nucleotide polymorphisms in the SAMHD1 gene have been associated with Aicardi-Goutières syndrome (AGS), a very rare and severe autoimmune disease. Primary peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from AGS patients homozygous for a nonsense mutation in SAMHD1 (R164X) lacked endogenous SAMHD1 expression and support HIV-1 replication in the absence of exogenous activation. Our results indicate that within PBMC from AGS patients, CD14+ cells were the subpopulation susceptible to HIV-1 infection, whereas cells from healthy donors did not support infection. The monocytic lineage of the infected SAMHD1 -/- cells, in conjunction with mostly undetectable levels of cytokines, chemokines and type I interferon measured prior to infection, indicate that aberrant cellular activation is not the cause for the observed phenotype. Taken together, we propose that SAMHD1 protects primary CD14+ monocytes from HIV-1 infection confirming SAMHD1 as a potent lentiviral restriction factor.
Author Summary
Lentiviral accessory proteins play important roles in antagonizing host proteins aimed at suppressing HIV-1 replication at a cellular level. The SIV/HIV-2 protein Vpx counteracts SAMHD1, a previously unknown antiviral factor within myeloid blood cells, rendering these cells permissive to primate immunodeficiency viruses. We confirm in this study that Vpx interacts with SAMHD1 leading to ubiquitin-mediated degradation of SAMHD1, and renders CD14 positive monocytes susceptible to HIV-1 infection. We provide new insights into the ability of SAMHD1 to protect monocytic cells from HIV-1 infection by using primary cells from patients with Aicardi-Goutières syndrome (AGS) lacking endogenous SAMHD1 expression. We show that peripheral monocytic cells of AGS patients are highly permissive to HIV-1. Thus, our study demonstrates that SAMHD1 is critical for restriction of HIV-1 infection in monocytes adding SAMHD1 as a novel innate defense factor.
PMCID: PMC3234228  PMID: 22174685
13.  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
14.  Exploiting replication deficiencies to illuminate HIV: host interactions 
Retrovirology  2011;8(Suppl 2):O6.
PMCID: PMC3236891
17.  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
18.  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
19.  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
20.  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
21.  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
22.  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
23.  Defining APOBEC3 Expression Patterns in Human Tissues and Hematopoietic Cell Subsets▿ †  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(18):9474-9485.
Human APOBEC3 enzymes are cellular DNA cytidine deaminases that inhibit and/or mutate a variety of retroviruses, retrotransposons, and DNA viruses. Here, we report a detailed examination of human APOBEC3 gene expression, focusing on APOBEC3G (A3G) and APOBEC3F (A3F), which are potent inhibitors of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection but are suppressed by HIV-1 Vif. A3G and A3F are expressed widely in hematopoietic cell populations, including T cells, B cells, and myeloid cells, as well as in tissues where mRNA levels broadly correlate with the lymphoid cell content (gonadal tissues are exceptions). By measuring mRNA copy numbers, we find that A3G mRNA is ∼10-fold more abundant than A3F mRNA, implying that A3G is the more significant anti-HIV-1 factor in vivo. A3G and A3F levels also vary between donors, and these differences are sustained over 12 months. Responses to T-cell activation or cytokines reveal that A3G and A3F mRNA levels are induced ∼10-fold in macrophages and dendritic cells (DCs) by alpha interferon (IFN-α) and ∼4-fold in naïve CD4+ T cells. However, immunoblotting revealed that A3G protein levels are induced by IFN-α in macrophages and DCs but not in T cells. In contrast, T-cell activation and IFN-γ had a minimal impact on A3G or A3F expression. Finally, we noted that A3A mRNA expression and protein expression are exquisitely sensitive to IFN-α induction in CD4+ T cells, macrophages, and DCs but not to T-cell activation or other cytokines. Given that A3A does not affect HIV-1 infection, these observations imply that this protein may participate in early antiviral innate immune responses.
PMCID: PMC2738220  PMID: 19587057
24.  Matrix Mediates the Functional Link between Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 RNA Nuclear Export Elements and the Assembly Competency of Gag in Murine Cells▿  
Journal of Virology  2009;83(17):8525-8535.
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) assembles poorly in murine cells, reflecting inefficient targeting of the Gag structural polyprotein to the plasma membrane. Virus particle production can be restored by replacing the cis-acting Rev response element (RRE) in Gag-Pol mRNAs with multiple copies of the CTE (4×CTE), suggesting a mechanistic link between HIV-1 RNA trafficking and productive Gag assembly. In this report, we demonstrate that Gag molecules generated from RRE-dependent transcripts are intrinsically defective for assembly in murine 3T3 cells. When controlled for the intracellular Gag level, modulations of the Gag matrix (MA) domain that enhance Gag membrane association (e.g., deletion of the MA globular head) substantially improve assembly for Gag derived from RRE- but not 4×CTE-dependent transcripts. Gag mutants carrying a leucine zipper replacement of the nucleocapsid (NC) domain remain largely assembly defective when derived from RRE-dependent transcripts, indicating that the defect does not reflect aberrant NC/RNA-driven Gag multimerization. We further demonstrate that single changes in uncharged amino acids implicated in Gag/MA myristoyl switch regulation, most notably replacing the leucine at position 21 with serine, improve assembly for Gag derived from RRE-dependent transcripts. In sum, we provide genetic evidence to suggest that HIV-1 RNA metabolism specifically modulates the activation of MA-dependent membrane targeting.
PMCID: PMC2738188  PMID: 19535446
25.  TRIM5α Modulates Immunodeficiency Virus Control in Rhesus Monkeys 
PLoS Pathogens  2010;6(1):e1000738.
The cytoplasmic TRIM5α proteins of certain mammalian lineages efficiently recognize the incoming capsids of particular retroviruses and potently restrict infection in a species-specific manner. Successful retroviruses have evolved capsids that are less efficiently recognized by the TRIM5α proteins of the natural hosts. To address whether TRIM5α contributes to the outcome of retroviral infection in a susceptible host species, we investigated the impact of TRIM5 polymorphisms in rhesus monkeys on the course of a simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection. Full-length TRIM5α cDNAs were derived from each of 79 outbred monkeys and sequenced. Associations were explored between the expression of particular TRIM5 alleles and both the permissiveness of cells to SIV infection in vitro and clinical sequelae of SIV infection in vivo. Natural variation in the TRIM5α B30.2(SPRY) domain influenced the efficiency of SIVmac capsid binding and the in vitro susceptibility of cells from the monkeys to SIVmac infection. We also show the importance in vivo of the interaction of SIVmac with different allelic forms of TRIM5, demonstrating that particular alleles are associated with as much as 1.3 median log difference in set-point viral loads in SIVmac-infected rhesus monkeys. Moreover, these allelic forms of TRIM5 were associated with the extent of loss of central memory (CM) CD4+ T cells and the rate of progression to AIDS in the infected monkeys. These findings demonstrate a central role for TRIM5α in limiting the replication of an immunodeficiency virus infection in a primate host.
Author Summary
The cytoplasmic TRIM5α restricts the replication of a broad range of retroviruses in a species-specific manner. In the present study we show that TRIM5α is more than a species barrier for retroviruses. We show that naturally occurring B30.2(SPRY) polymorphisms affect retrovirus infection. These observations demonstrate the importance of SIV/B30.2(SPRY) interactions in vivo. These findings are the first demonstration of the importance of such a pathogen/host protein interaction in vivo. Importantly, the striking variability in the clinical course of HIV-infected individuals has long puzzled the biomedical community. A large number of investigators have devoted considerable effort to determine what genetically determined factors might contribute to the containment of HIV replication, reasoning that an understanding of the determinants of effective control of HIV spread will provide important targets for both drug and vaccine development. Our demonstration in the present study that B30.2(SPRY) polymorphisms have a dramatic effect on the clinical outcome of an AIDS virus infection highlight the extraordinary importance of TRIM5α on the control of an AIDS virus infection.
PMCID: PMC2809762  PMID: 20107597

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