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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

  • Localization, quantification and interaction with host factors of endogenous HTLV-1 HBZ protein in infected cells and ATL

  • Background: Human T cell lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1) is the etiological agent of a severe form of neoplasia designated Adult T cell Leukaemia (ATL). It is widely accepted that the viral transactivator Tax-1 is the major viral product involved in the onset, but not in the maintenance, of neoplastic phenotype, as only 30–40% of ATL cells express Tax-1. It has been recently demonstrated that HBZ (HTLV-1 bZIP factor), a protein encoded by the minus strand of HTLV-1 genome, constantly expressed in infected cells and in ATL tumor cells, is also involved in the pathogenesis of leukaemia. The full role played by HBZ in oncogenesis is not clarified in detail also because of the limited availability of tools to assess quantitative expression, subcellular location and interaction of HBZ with host factors in ATL. Results: By the use of the first reported monoclonal antibody against HBZ, 4D4-F3, generated in our laboratory it has been possible to carefully assess for the first time the above parameters in HTLV-1 chronically infected cells and, most importantly, in fresh leukemic cells from patients. Endogenous HBZ is expressed in speckle-like structures localized in the nucleus. The calculated number of endogenous HBZ molecules varies between 17.461 and 39.615 molecules per cell, 20- to 50-fold less than the amount expressed in HBZ transfected cells used by most investigators to assess the expression, function and subcellular localization of the viral protein. HBZ interacts in vivo with p300 and JunD and co-localizes only partially, and depending on the amount of expressed HBZ, not only with p300 and JunD but also with CBP and CREB2. Conclusions: The possibility to study endogenous HBZ in detail may significantly contribute to a better delineation of the role of HBZ during HTLV-1 infection and cellular transformation.

  • Identification of novel monocistronic HTLV-1 mRNAs encoding functional Rex isoforms

  • Background: Human T cell leukemia virus type 1 (HTLV-1) gene expression is controlled by the key regulatory proteins Tax and Rex. The concerted action of these proteins results in a two-phase kinetics of viral expression that depends on a time delay between their action. However, it is difficult to explain this delay, as Tax and Rex are produced from the same mRNA. In the present study we investigated whether HTLV-1 may produce novel mRNA species capable of expressing Rex and Tax independently.FindingsResults revealed the expression of three alternatively spliced transcripts coding for novel Rex isoforms in infected cell lines and in primary samples from infected patients. One mRNA coded for a Tax isoform and a Rex isoform, and two mRNAs coded for Rex isoforms but not Tax. Functional assays showed that these Rex isoforms exhibit activity comparable to canonic Rex. An analysis of the temporal expression of these transcripts upon ex vivo culture of cells from infected patients and cell lines transfected with a molecular clone of HTLV-1 revealed early expression of the dicistronic tax/rex mRNAs followed by the monocistronic mRNAs coding for Rex isoforms. Conclusion: The production of monocistronic HTLV-1 mRNAs encoding Rex isoforms with comparable activity to canonical Rex, but with distinct timing, would support a prolonged duration of Rex function with gradual loss of Tax, and is consistent with the two-phase expression kinetics. A thorough understanding of these regulatory circuits will shed light on the basis of viral latency and provide groundwork to develop strategies for eradicating persistent infections.

  • Nuclear matrix protein Matrin 3 is a regulator of ZAP-mediated retroviral restriction

  • Background: Matrin 3 is a nuclear matrix protein involved in multiple nuclear processes. In HIV-1 infection, Matrin 3 serves as a Rev cofactor important for the cytoplasmic accumulation of HIV-1 transcripts. ZAP is a potent host restriction factor of multiple viruses including retroviruses HIV-1 and MoMuLV. In this study we sought to further characterize Matrin 3 functions in the regulation of HIV gene expression. Results: Here we describe a function for Matrin 3 as a negative regulator of the ZAP-mediated restriction of retroviruses. Mass spectrometry analysis of Matrin 3-associated proteins uncovered interactions with proteins of the ZAP degradation complex, DDX17 and EXOSC3. Coimmunoprecipitation studies confirmed Matrin 3 associations with DDX17, EXOSC3 and ZAP, in a largely RNA-dependent manner, indicating that RNA is mediating the Matrin 3 interactions with these components of the ZAP degradation complex. Silencing Matrin 3 expression caused a remarkably enhanced ZAP-driven inhibition of HIV-1 and MoMuLV luciferase reporter viruses. This effect was shared with additional nuclear matrix proteins. ZAP targets multiply-spliced HIV-1 transcripts, but in the context of Matrin 3 suppression, this ZAP restriction was broadened to unspliced and multiply-spliced RNAs. Conclusions: Here we reveal an unprecedented role for a nuclear matrix protein, Matrin 3, in the regulation of ZAP’s antiretroviral activity. Suppressing Matrin 3 powers a heightened and broader ZAP restriction of HIV-1 gene expression. This study suggests that this ZAP regulatory mechanism is shared with additional nuclear matrix proteins.

  • Human T-cell leukemia virus type-I Tax induces the expression of CD83 on T cells

  • Background: CD83, a cell surface glycoprotein that is stably expressed on mature dendritic cells, can be transiently induced on other hematopoietic cell lineages upon cell activation. In contrast to the membrane form of CD83, soluble CD83 appears to be immunosuppressive. In an analysis of the phenotype of leukemic CD4 + T cells from patients with adult T-cell leukemia (ATL), we found that a number of primary CD4 + T cells became positive for cell surface CD83 after short-term culture, and that most of these CD83 + CD4 + T cells were positive for human T-cell leukemia virus type-I (HTLV-I) Tax (Tax1). We hypothesized that Tax1 is involved in the induction of CD83.ResultWe found that CD83 was expressed selectively on Tax1-expressing human CD4 + T cells in short-term cultured peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) isolated from HTLV-I + donors, including ATL patients and HTLV-I carriers. HTLV-I-infected T cell lines expressing Tax1 also expressed cell surface CD83 and released soluble CD83. CD83 can be expressed in the JPX-9 cell line by cadmium-mediated Tax1 induction and in Jurkat cells or PBMCs by Tax1 introduction via infection with a recombinant adenovirus carrying the Tax1 gene. The CD83 promoter was activated by Tax1 in an NF-κB-dependent manner. Based on a previous report showing soluble CD83-mediated prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) production from human monocytes in vitro, we tested if PGE2 affected HTLV-I propagation, and found that PGE2 strongly stimulated expression of Tax1 and viral structural molecules. Conclusions: Our results suggest that HTLV-I induces CD83 expression on T cells via Tax1 -mediated NF-κB activation, which may promote HTLV-I infection in vivo.

  • Disease progression despite protective HLA expression in an HIV-infected transmission pair

  • Background: The precise immune responses mediated by HLA class I molecules such as HLA-B*27:05 and HLA-B*57:01 that protect against HIV disease progression remain unclear. We studied a CRF01_AE clade HIV infected donor-recipient transmission pair in which the recipient expressed both HLA-B*27:05 and HLA-B*57:01. Results: Within 4.5 years of diagnosis, the recipient had progressed to meet criteria for antiretroviral therapy initiation. We employed ultra-deep sequencing of the full-length virus genome in both donor and recipient as an unbiased approach by which to identify specific viral mutations selected in association with progression. Using a heat map method to highlight differences in the viral sequences between donor and recipient, we demonstrated that the majority of the recipient’s mutations outside of Env were within epitopes restricted by HLA-B*27:05 and HLA-B*57:01, including the well-studied Gag epitopes. The donor, who also expressed HLA alleles associated with disease protection, HLA-A*32:01/B*13:02/B*14:01, showed selection of mutations in parallel with disease progression within epitopes restricted by these protective alleles. Conclusions: These studies of full-length viral sequences in a transmission pair, both of whom expressed protective HLA alleles but nevertheless failed to control viremia, are consistent with previous reports pointing to the critical role of Gag-specific CD8+ T cell responses restricted by protective HLA molecules in maintaining immune control of HIV infection. The transmission of subtype CRF01_AE clade infection may have contributed to accelerated disease progression in this pair as a result of clade-specific sequence differences in immunodominant epitopes.

  • The HDAC6/APOBEC3G complex regulates HIV-1 infectiveness by inducing Vif autophagic degradation

  • Background: Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) has evolved a complex strategy to overcome the immune barriers it encounters throughout an organism thanks to its viral infectivity factor (Vif), a key protein for HIV-1 infectivity and in vivo pathogenesis. Vif interacts with and promotes“apolipoprotein B mRNA-editing enzyme-catalytic, polypeptide-like 3G” (A3G) ubiquitination and subsequent degradation by the proteasome, thus eluding A3G restriction activity against HIV-1. Results: We found that cellular histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6) directly interacts with A3G through its C-terminal BUZ domain (residues 841–1,215) to undergo a cellular co-distribution along microtubules and cytoplasm. The HDAC6/A3G complex occurs in the absence or presence of Vif, competes for Vif-mediated A3G degradation, and accounts for A3G steady-state expression level. In fact, HDAC6 directly interacts with and promotes Vif autophagic clearance, thanks to its C-terminal BUZ domain, a process requiring the deacetylase activity of HDAC6. HDAC6 degrades Vif without affecting the core binding factorβ (CBF-β), a Vif-associated partner reported to be key for Vif- mediated A3G degradation. Thus HDAC6 antagonizes the proviral activity of Vif/CBF-β-associated complex by targeting Vif and stabilizing A3G. Finally, in cells producing virions, we observed a clear-cut correlation between the ability of HDAC6 to degrade Vif and to restore A3G expression, suggesting that HDAC6 controls the amount of Vif incorporated into nascent virions and the ability of HIV-1 particles of being infectious. This effect seems independent on the presence of A3G inside virions and on viral tropism. Conclusions: Our study identifies for the first time a new cellular complex, HDAC6/A3G, involved in the autophagic degradation of Vif, and suggests that HDAC6 represents a new antiviral factor capable of controlling HIV-1 infectiveness by counteracting Vif and its functions.

  • South African HIV-1 subtype C transmitted variants with a specific V2 motif show higher dependence on aamp;#945;4aamp;#946;7 for replication

  • Background: The integrinα4β7 mediates the trafficking of immune cells to the gut associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) and is an attachment factor for the HIV gp120 envelope glycoprotein. We developed a viral replication inhibition assay to more clearly evaluate the role ofα4β7 in HIV infection and the contribution of viral and host factors. Results: Replication of 60 HIV-1 subtype C viruses collected over time from 11 individuals in the CAPRISA cohort were partially inhibited by antibodies targetingα4β7. However, dependence onα4β7 for replication varied substantially among viral isolates from different individuals as well as over time in some individuals. Among 8 transmitted/founder (T/F) viruses,α4β7 reactivity was highest for viruses having P/SDI/V tri-peptide binding motifs. Mutation of T/F viruses that had LDI/L motifs to P/SDI/V resulted in greaterα4β7 reactivity, whereas mutating P/SDI/V to LDI/L motifs was associated with reducedα4β7 binding. P/SDI/V motifs were more common among South African HIV subtype C viruses (35%) compared to subtype C viruses from other regions of Africa (llt;8%) and to other subtypes, due in part to a founder effect. In addition, individuals with bacterial vaginosis (BV) and who had higher concentrations of IL-7, IL-8 and IL-1α in the genital tract had T/F viruses with higherα4β7 dependence for replication, suggesting that viruses with P/SDI/V motifs may be preferentially transmitted in the presence of BV in this population. Conclusions: Collectively, these data suggest a role forα4β7 in HIV infection that is influenced by both viral and host factors including the sequence of theα4β7 binding motif, the cytokine milieu and BV in the genital tract. The higher frequency of P/SDI/V sequences among South African HIV-1 subtype C viruses may have particular significance for the role ofα4β7 in this geographical region.

  • Orthologous endogenous retroviruses exhibit directional selection since the chimp-human split

  • Background: Endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are often viewed as selfish DNA that do not contribute to host phenotype. Yet ERVs have also been co-opted to play important roles in the maintenance of stem cell identity and placentation, amongst other things. This has led to debate over whether the typical ERV confers a cost or benefit upon the host. We studied the divergence of orthologous ERVs since the chimp-human split with the aim of assessing whether ERVs exert detectable fitness effects. Results: ERVs have evolved faster than other selfish DNA in human and chimpanzee. The divergence of ERVs relative to neighbouring selfish DNA is positively correlated with the length of the long terminal repeat of an ERV and with the percentage of neighbouring DNA that is not selfish. ERVs from the HERV-H family have diverged particularly quickly and in a manner that correlates with their level of transcription in human stem cells. A substitution into a highly transcribed HERV-H has a selective coefficient of the order of 10−4 . This is large enough to suggest these substitutions are not dominated by drift. Conclusions: ERVs differ from other selfish DNA in the extent to which they diverge and appear to have measurable effects on hosts, even after fixation. The effects are strongest for HERV-H and suggest that the HERV-H transcriptome has recently evolved under the influence of directional selection. As there are many HERV-H loci distributed across the ape lineage, our results suggest that in future this family can be used to model the evolutionary consequences of ERV exaptation in primates and other mammals.

  • A single-residue change in the HIV-1 V3 loop associated with maraviroc resistance impairs CCR5 binding affinity while increasing replicative capacity

  • Background: Maraviroc (MVC) is an allosteric CCR5 inhibitor used against HIV-1 infection. While MVC-resistant viruses have been identified in patients, it still remains incompletely known how they adjust their CD4 and CCR5 binding properties to resist MVC inhibition while preserving their replicative capacity. It is thought that they maintain high efficiency of receptor binding. To date however, information about the binding affinities to receptors for inhibitor-resistant HIV-1 remains limited. Results: Here, we show by means of viral envelope (gp120) binding experiments and virus-cell fusion kinetics that a MVC-resistant virus (MVC-Res) that had emerged as a dominant viral quasispecies in a patient displays reduced affinities for CD4 and CCR5 either free or bound to MVC, as compared to its MVC-sensitive counterpart isolated before MVC therapy. An alanine insertion within the GPG motif (G310_P311insA) of the MVC-resistant gp120 V3 loop is responsible for the decreased CCR5 binding affinity, while impaired binding to CD4 is due to sequence changes outside V3. Molecular dynamics simulations of gp120 binding to CCR5 further emphasize that the Ala insertion alters the structure of the V3 tip and weakens interaction with CCR5 ECL2. Paradoxically, infection experiments on cells expressing high levels of CCR5 also showed that Ala allows MVC-Res to use CCR5 efficiently, thereby improving viral fusion and replication efficiencies. Actually, although we found that the V3 loop of MVC-Res is required for high levels of MVC resistance, other regions outside V3 are sufficient to confer a moderate level of resistance. These sequence changes outside V3, however, come with a replication cost, which is compensated for by the Ala insertion in V3. Conclusion: These results indicate that changes in the V3 loop of MVC-resistant viruses can augment the efficiency of CCR5-dependent steps of viral entry other than gp120 binding, thereby compensating for their decreased affinity for entry receptors and improving their fusion and replication efficiencies. This study thus sheds light on unsuspected mechanisms whereby MVC-resistant HIV-1 could emerge and grow in treated patients.

  • Chloroquine and beyond: exploring anti-rheumatic drugs to reduce immune hyperactivation in HIV/AIDS

  • The restoration of the immune system prompted by antiretroviral therapy (ART) has allowed drastically reducing the mortality and morbidity of HIV infection. However, one main source of clinical concern is the persistence of immune hyperactivation in individuals under ART. Chronically enhanced levels of T-cell activation are associated with several deleterious effects which lead to faster disease progression and slower CD4 + T-cell recovery during ART. In this article, we discuss the rationale, and review the results, of the use of antimalarial quinolines, such as chloroquine and its derivative hydroxychloroquine, to counteract immune activation in HIV infection. Despite the promising results of several pilot trials, the most recent clinical data indicate that antimalarial quinolines are unlikely to exert a marked beneficial effect on immune activation. Alternative approaches will likely be required to reproducibly decrease immune activation in the setting of HIV infection. If the quinoline-based strategies should nevertheless be pursued in future studies, particular care must be devoted to the dosage selection, in order to maximize the chances to obtain effective in vivo drug concentrations.
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