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Jean-Yves Sgro
Inst. for Mol.Virology
731B Bock Labs
1525 Linden Drive Madison, WI 53706

Table of Contents for this page:

  • Current Issue
  • Current Issue of Retrovirology

    Retrovirology - Latest Articles

  • Obituary: Remembering Michael Piatak, Jr.

  • No abstract

  • A HIV-1 Tat mutant protein disrupts HIV-1 Rev function by targeting the DEAD-box RNA helicase DDX1

  • Background: Previously we described a transdominant negative mutant of the HIV-1 Tat protein, termed Nullbasic, that downregulated the steady state levels of unspliced and singly spliced viral mRNA, an activity caused by inhibition of HIV-1 Rev activity. Nullbasic also altered the subcellular localizations of Rev and other cellular proteins, including CRM1, B23 and C23 in a Rev-dependent manner, suggesting that Nullbasic may disrupt Rev function and trafficking by intervening with an unidentified component of the Rev nucleocytoplasmic transport complex. Results: To seek a possible mechanism that could explain how Nullbasic inhibits Rev activity, we used a proteomics approach to identify host cellular proteins that interact with Nullbasic. Forty-six Nullbasic-binding proteins were identified by mass spectrometry including the DEAD-box RNA helicase, DDX1. To determine the effect of DDX1 on Nullbasic-mediated Rev activity, we performed cell-based immunoprecipitation assays, Rev reporter assays and bio-layer interferometry (BLI) assays. Interaction between DDX1 and Nullbasic was observed by co-immunoprecipitation of Nullbasic with endogenous DDX1 from cell lysates. BLI assays showed a direct interaction between Nullbasic and DDX1. Nullbasic affected DDX1 subcellular distribution in a Rev-independent manner. Interestingly overexpression of DDX1 in cells not only restored Rev-dependent mRNA export and gene expression in a Rev reporter assay but also partly reversed Nullbasic-induced Rev subcellular mislocalization. Moreover, HIV-1 wild type Tat co-immunoprecipitated with DDX1 and overexpression of Tat could rescue the unspliced viral mRNA levels inhibited by Nullbasic in HIV-1 expressing cells. Conclusions: Nullbasic was used to further define the complex mechanisms involved in the Rev-dependent nuclear export of the 9?kb and 4?kb viral RNAs. All together, these data indicate that DDX1 can be sequestered by Nullbasic leading to destabilization of the Rev nucleocytoplasmic transport complex and decreased levels of Rev-dependent viral transcripts. The outcomes support a role for DDX1 in maintenance of a Rev nuclear complex that transports viral RRE-containing mRNA to the cytoplasm. To our knowledge Nullbasic is the first anti-HIV protein that specifically targets the cellular protein DDX1 to block Rev?s activity. Furthermore, our research raises the possibility that wild type Tat may play a previously unrecognized but very important role in Rev function.

  • Cytotoxic T lymphocyte lysis of HTLV-1 infected cells is limited by weak HBZ protein expression, but non-specifically enhanced on induction of Tax expression

  • Background: Immunogenetic evidence indicates that cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) specific for the weak CTL antigen HBZ limit HTLV-1 proviral load in vivo, whereas there is no clear relationship between the proviral load and the frequency of CTLs specific for the immunodominant antigen Tax. In vivo, circulating HTLV-1-infected cells express HBZ mRNA in contrast, Tax expression is typically low or undetectable. To elucidate the virus-suppressing potential of CTLs targeting HBZ, we compared the ability of HBZ- and Tax-specific CTLs to lyse naturally-infected cells, by co-incubating HBZ- and Tax-specific CTL clones with primary CD4+ T cells from HLA-matched HTLV-1-infected donors. We quantified lysis of infected cells, and tested whether specific virus-induced host cell surface molecules determine the susceptibility of infected cells to CTL-mediated lysis. Results: Primary infected cells upregulated HLA-A*02, ICAM-1, Fas and TRAIL-R1/2 in concert with Tax expression, forming efficient targets for both HTLV-1-specific CTLs and CTLs specific for an unrelated virus. We detected expression of HBZ mRNA (spliced isoform) in both Tax-expressing and non-expressing infected cells, and the HBZ26?34 epitope was processed and presented by cells transfected with an HBZ expression plasmid. However, when coincubated with primary cells, a high-avidity HBZ-specific CTL clone killed significantly fewer infected cells than were killed by a Tax-specific CTL clone. Finally, incubation with Tax- or HBZ-specific CTLs resulted in a significant decrease in the frequency of cells expressing high levels of HLA-A*02. Conclusions: HTLV-1 gene expression in primary CD4+ T cells non-specifically increases susceptibility to CTL lysis. Despite the presence of HBZ spliced-isoform mRNA, HBZ epitope presentation by primary cells is significantly less efficient than that of Tax.

  • Diminished transmission of drug resistant HIV-1 variants with reduced replication capacity in a human transmission model

  • Background: Different patterns of drug resistance are observed in treated and therapy na?ve HIV-1 infected populations. Especially the NRTI-related M184I/V variants, which are among the most frequently encountered mutations in treated patients, are underrepresented in the antiretroviral na?ve population. M184I/V mutations are known to have a profound effect on viral replication and tend to revert over time in the new host. However it is debated whether a diminished transmission efficacy of HIV variants with a reduced replication capacity can also contribute to the observed discrepancy in genotypic patterns.As dendritic cells (DCs) play a pivotal role in HIV-1 transmission, we used a model containing primary human Langerhans cells (LCs) and DCs to compare the transmission efficacy M184 variants (HIV-M184V/I/T) to HIV wild type (HIV-WT). As control, we used HIV harboring the NNRTI mutation K103N (HIV-K103N) which has a minor effect on replication and is found at a similar prevalence in treated and untreated individuals. Results: In comparison to HIV-WT, the HIV-M184 variants were less efficiently transmitted to CCR5+ Jurkat T cells by both LCs and DCs. The transmission rate of HIV-K103N was slightly reduced to HIV-WT in LCs and even higher than HIV-WT in DCs. Replication experiments in CCR5+ Jurkat T cells revealed no apparent differences in replication capacity between the mutant viruses and HIV-WT. However, viral replication in LCs and DCs was in concordance with the transmission results; replication by the HIV-M184 variants was lower than replication by HIV-WT, and the level of replication of HIV-K103N was intermediate for LCs and higher than HIV-WT for DCs. Conclusions: Our data demonstrate that drug resistant M184-variants display a reduced replication capacity in LCs and DCs which directly impairs their transmission efficacy. As such, diminished transmission efficacy may contribute to the lower prevalence of drug resistant variants in therapy naive individuals.

  • Are anti-HIV IgAs good guys or bad guys?

  • An estimated 90% of all HIV transmissions occur mucosally. Immunoglobulin A (IgA) molecules are important components of mucosal fluids. In a vaccine efficacy study, in which virosomes displaying HIV gp41 antigens protected most rhesus monkeys (RMs) against simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV), protection correlated with vaginal IgA capable of blocking HIV transcytosis in vitro. Furthermore, vaginal IgG exhibiting virus neutralization and/or antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) correlated with prevention of systemic infection. In contrast, plasma IgG had neither neutralizing nor ADCC activity. More recently, a passive mucosal immunization study provided the first direct proof that dimeric IgAs (dIgAs) can prevent SHIV acquisition in RMs challenged mucosally. This study compared dimeric IgA1 (dIgA1), dIgA2, or IgG1 versions of a human neutralizing monoclonal antibody (nmAb) targeting a conserved HIV Env epitope. While the nmAb neutralization profiles were identical in vitro, dIgA1 was significantly more protective in vivo than dIgA2. Protection was linked to a new mechanism: virion capture. Protection also correlated with inhibition of transcytosis of cell-free virus in vitro. While both of these primate model studies demonstrated protective effects of mucosal IgAs, the RV144 clinical trial identified plasma IgA responses to HIV Env as risk factors for increased HIV acquisition. In a secondary analysis of RV144, plasma IgA decreased the in vitro ADCC activity of vaccine-induced, Env-specific IgG with the same epitope specificity. Here we review the current literature regarding the potential of IgA ? systemic as well as mucosal ? in modulating virus acquisition and address the question whether anti-HIV IgA responses could help or harm the host.

  • Genome-wide shRNA screening identifies host factors involved in early endocytic events for HIV-1-induced CD4 down-regulation

  • Background: Down-modulation of the CD4 receptor is one of the hallmarks of HIV-1 infection and it is believed to confer a selective replicative advantage to the virus in vivo. This process is mainly mediated by three viral proteins: Env, Vpu and Nef. To date, the mechanisms that lead to CD4 depletion from the surface of infected cells during HIV-1 infection are still only partially characterized. In this study, we sought to identify and characterize cellular host factors in HIV-1-induced CD4 down-modulation. Results: To identify host factors involved in CD4 down-regulation, we used a whole genome-targeting shRNA lentiviral library in HeLa CD4+ cells expressing Nef as an inducer of CD4 down-modulation. We identified 55 genes, mainly encoding for proteins involved in various steps of clathrin-mediated endocytosis. For confirmation and further selection of the hits we performed several rounds of validation, using individual shRNA lentiviral vectors with a different target sequence for gene knock-down in HIV-1-infected T cells. By this stringent validation set-up, we could demonstrate that the knock-down of DNM3 (dynamin 3), SNX22 (sorting nexin 22), ATP6AP1 (ATPase, H+ Transporting, Lysosomal Accessory Protein 1), HRBL (HIV-Rev binding protein Like), IDH3G (Isocitrate dehydrogenase), HSP90B1 (Heat shock protein 90┬ákDa beta member 1) and EPS15 (Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor Pathway Substrate 15) significantly increases CD4 levels in HIV-infected SupT1 T cells compared to the non-targeting shRNA control. Moreover, EPS15, DNM3, IDH3G and ATP6AP1 knock-down significantly decreases HIV-1 replication in T cells. Conclusions: We identified seven genes as cellular co-factors for HIV-1-mediated CD4 down-regulation in T cells. The knock-down of four out of seven of these genes also significantly reduces HIV-1 replication in T cells. Next to a role in HIV-mediated CD4 down-regulation, these genes might however affect HIV-1 replication in another way. Our findings give insights in the HIV-1-mediated CD4 down-regulation at the level of the plasma membrane and early endosomes and identify four possible new HIV-1 replication co-factors.

  • Evolution and gene capture in ancient endogenous retroviruses - insights from the crocodilian genomes

  • Background: Crocodilians are thought to be hosts to a diverse and divergent complement of endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) but a comprehensive investigation is yet to be performed. The recent sequencing of three crocodilian genomes provides an opportunity for a more detailed and accurate representation of the ERV diversity that is present in these species. Here we investigate the diversity, distribution and evolution of ERVs from the genomes of three key crocodilian species, and outline the key processes driving crocodilian ERV proliferation and evolution. Results: ERVs and ERV related sequences make up less than 2% of crocodilian genomes. We recovered and described 45 ERV groups within the three crocodilian genomes, many of which are species specific. We have also revealed a new class of ERV, ERV4, which appears to be common to crocodilians and turtles, and currently has no characterised exogenous counterpart. For the first time, we formally describe the characteristics of this ERV class and its classification relative to other recognised ERV and retroviral classes. This class shares some sequence similarity and sequence characteristics with ERV3, although it is phylogenetically distinct from the other ERV classes. We have also identified two instances of gene capture by crocodilian ERVs, one of which, the capture of a host KIT-ligand mRNA has occurred without the loss of an ERV domain. Conclusions: This study indicates that crocodilian ERVs comprise a wide variety of lineages, many of which appear to reflect ancient infections. In particular, ERV4 appears to have a limited host range, with current data suggesting that it is confined to crocodilians and some lineages of turtles. Also of interest are two ERV groups that demonstrate evidence of host gene capture. This study provides a framework to facilitate further studies into non-mammalian vertebrates and highlights the need for further studies into such species.

  • BI-2 destabilizes HIV-1 cores during infection and Prevents Binding of CPSF6 to the HIV-1 Capsid

  • Background: The recently discovered small-molecule BI-2 potently blocks HIV-1 infection. BI-2 binds to the N-terminal domain of HIV-1 capsid. BI-2 utilizes the same capsid pocket used by the small molecule PF74. Although both drugs bind to the same pocket, it has been proposed that BI-2 used a different mechanism to block HIV-1 infection when compared to PF74.FindingsThis work demonstrates that BI-2 destabilizes the HIV-1 core during infection, and prevents the binding of the cellular factor CPSF6 to the HIV-1 core. Conclusions: Overall this short-form paper suggests that BI-2 is using a similar mechanism to the one used by PF74 to block HIV-1 infection.

  • How SLX4 cuts through the mystery of HIV-1 Vpr-mediated cell cycle arrest

  • Vpr is one of the most enigmatic viral auxiliary proteins of HIV. During the past twenty years, several activities have been ascribed to this viral protein, but one, its ability to mediate cell cycle arrest at the G2 to M transition has been the most extensively studied. Nonetheless, the genuine role of Vpr and its pathophysiological relevance in the viral life cycle have remained mysterious. Recent work by Laguette et al. (Cell 156:134-145, 2014) provides important insight into the molecular mechanism of Vpr-mediated G2 arrest. This study highlights for the first time how Vpr recruits the SLX4 endonuclease complex and how Vpr-induced inappropriate activation of this complex leads to G2 arrest. Here, we will discuss these findings in the light of previous work to show how they change the view of Vpr?s mechanism of action. We will also discuss how these findings open new questions towards the understanding of the biological function of Vpr regarding innate immune sensing.

  • The role of N -glycans of HIV-1 gp41 in virus infectivity and susceptibility to the suppressive effects of carbohydrate-binding agents

  • Background: Carbohydrate-binding agents (CBAs) are potent antiretroviral compounds that target the N-glycans on the HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins. The development of phenotypic resistance to CBAs by the virus is accompanied by the deletion of multiple N-linked glycans of the surface envelope glycoprotein gp120. Recently, also an N-glycan on the transmembrane envelope glycoprotein gp41 was shown to be deleted during CBA resistance development. Results: We generated HIV-1 mutants lacking gp41 N-glycans and determined the influence of these glycan deletions on the viral phenotype (infectivity, CD4 binding, envelope glycoprotein incorporation in the viral particle and on the transfected cell, virus capture by DC-SIGN+ cells and transmission of DC-SIGN-captured virions to CD4+ T-lymphocytes) and on the phenotypic susceptibility of HIV-1 to a selection of CBAs. It was shown that some gp41 N-glycans are crucial for the infectivity of the virus. In particular, lack of an intact N616 glycosylation site was shown to result in the loss of viral infectivity of several (i.e. the X4-tropic IIIB and NL4.3 strains, and the X4/R5-tropic HE strain), but not all (i.e. the R5-tropic ADA strain) studied HIV-1 strains. In accordance, we found that the gp120 levels in the envelope of N616Q mutant gp41 strains NL4.3, IIIB and HE were severely decreased. In contrast, N616Q gp41 mutant HIV-1ADA contained gp120 levels similar to the gp120 levels in WT HIV-1ADA virus. Concomitantly deleting multiple gp41 N-glycans was often highly detrimental for viral infectivity. Using surface plasmon resonance technology we showed that CBAs have a pronounced affinity for both gp120 and gp41. However, the antiviral activity of CBAs is not dependent on the concomitant presence of all gp41 glycans. Single gp41 glycan deletions had no marked effects on CBA susceptibility, whereas some combinations of two to three gp41 glycan-deletions had a minor effect on CBA activity. Conclusions: We revealed the importance of some gp41 N-linked glycans, in particular the N616 glycan which was shown to be absolutely indispensable for the infectivity potential of several virus strains. In addition, we demonstrated that the deletion of up to three gp41 N-linked glycans only slightly affected CBA susceptibility.
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