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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

  • Asynchronous transcriptional silencing of individual retroviral genomes in embryonic cells

  • Background: Retroviral DNAs are profoundly silenced at the transcriptional level in embryonic cell types. The transcriptional profile of pluripotent stem cells has been demonstrated to be extremely heterogeneous from cell to cell, and how the silencing of retroviral DNAs is achieved is not yet well characterized. Results: In the current study, we investigated the transcriptional silencing dynamics in stem cells by independently monitoring the expression of two Moloney murine leukemia virus (MMLV) retroviral vectors newly introduced into embryonic carcinoma (EC) cells. Although MMLV is efficiently silenced by epigenetic mechanisms in most such cells, a small number of the doubly-transduced EC cells transiently show double-positive proviral expression. These cells were sorted and their expression patterns were studied over time as silencing is established. Conclusions: Our data suggest that retroviral silencing occurs stochastically, in an individual locus-specific fashion, and often without synchronous silencing of both viruses in the same cells. Surprisingly, the chromatin modifications that mark the silenced proviruses are unchanged even in cells that temporarily escape silencing. This local silencing effect is a feature of stem cell epigenomic regulation that has not previously been revealed.

  • HIV-1 Tat second exon limits the extent of Tat-mediated modulation of interferon-stimulated genes in antigen presenting cells

  • Background: We have shown that HIV-1 Tat interaction with MAP2K3, MAP2K6, and IRF7 promoters is key to IFN-stimulated genes activation in immature dendritic cells and macrophages. Results: We evaluated how Tat alleles and mutants differ in cellular gene modulation of immature dendritic cells and monocyte-derived macrophages and what similarities this modulation has with that induced by interferons. The tested alleles and mutants modulated to different degrees IFN-stimulated genes, without concomitant induction of interferons. The first exon TatSF21-72 and the minimal transactivator TatSF21-58, all modulated genes to a significantly greater extent than full-length wild type, two-exon Tat, indicating that Tat second exon is critical in reducing the innate response triggered by HIV-1 in these cells. Mutants with reduced LTR transactivation had a substantially reduced effect on host gene expression modulation than wild type TatSF2. However, the more potent LTR transactivator TatSF2A58T modulated ISG expression to a lower degree compared to TatSF2. A cellular gene modulation similar to that induced by Tat and Tat mutants in immature dendritic cells could be observed in monocyte-derived macrophages, with the most significant pathways affected by Tat being the same in both cell types. Tat expression in cells deleted of the type I IFN locus or receptor resulted in a gene modulation pattern similar to that induced in primary immature dendritic cells and monocyte-derived macrophages, excluding the involvement of type I IFNs in Tat-mediated gene modulation. We have shown that Tat interaction with MAP2K3, MAP2K6, and IRF7 promoters is key to IFN-stimulated genes activation. A single exon Tat protein more strongly modulated the luciferase activity mediated by MAP2K3, MAP2K6, and IRF7 promoter sequences located 5[prime] of the RNA start site than the wild type two-exon Tat, while a cysteine and lysine Tat mutants reduced in LTR transactivation had negligible effects on these promoters. Chemical inhibition of CDK9 or Sp1 decreased Tat activation of MAP2K3-, MAP2K6-, and IRF7-mediated luciferase transcription. Conclusions: Taken together, these data indicate that the second exon of Tat is critical to the containment of the innate response stimulated by Tat in antigen presenting cells and support a role for Tat in stimulating cellular transcription via its interaction with transcription factors present at promoters.

  • Nuclear import of SAMHD1 is mediated by a classical karyopherin¿/ß1 dependent pathway and confers sensitivity to VpxMAC induced ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation

  • Background: 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. Results: 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 karyopherinα2 (KPNA2) and a classical N-terminal nuclear localization signal (14KRPR17) to enter the nucleus. Reduction of karyopherinβ1 (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. Conclusions: 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.

  • Diverse viral glycoproteins as well as CD4 co-package into the same human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) particles

  • Background: Retroviruses can acquire not only their own glycoproteins as they bud from the cellular membrane, but also some cellular and foreign viral glycoproteins. Many of these non-native glycoproteins are actively recruited to budding virions, particularly other viral glycoproteins. This observation suggests that there may be a conserved mechanism underlying the recruitment of glycoproteins into viruses. If a conserved mechanism is used, diverse glycoproteins should localize to a single budding retroviral particle. On the other hand, if viral glycoproteins have divergent mechanisms for recruitment, the different glycoproteins could segregate into different particles. Results: To determine if co-packaging occurs among different glycoproteins, we designed an assay that combines virion antibody capture and a determination of infectivity based on a luciferase reporter. Virions were bound to a plate with an antibody against one glycoprotein, and then the infectivity was measured with cells that allow entry only with a second glycoprotein. We tested pairings of glycoproteins from HIV, murine leukemia virus (MLV), Rous sarcoma virus (RSV), vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), and Ebola virus. The results showed that glycoproteins that were actively recruited into virions were co-packaged efficiently with each other. We also tested cellular proteins and found CD4 also had a similar correlation between active recruitment and efficient co-packaging, but other cellular proteins did not. Conclusion: Glycoproteins that are actively incorporated into HIV-1 virions are efficiently co-packaged into the same virus particles, suggesting that the same general mechanism for recruitment may act in many viruses.

  • Interferon-induced HERC5 is evolving under positive selection and inhibits HIV-1 particle production by a novel mechanism targeting Rev/RRE-dependent RNA nuclear export

  • Background: Type I interferon (IFN) inhibits virus replication by activating multiple antiviral mechanisms and pathways. It has long been recognized that type I IFNs can potently block HIV-1 replication in vitro; as such, HIV-1 has been used as a system to identify and characterize IFN-induced antiviral proteins responsible for this block. IFN-induced HERC5 contains an amino-terminal Regulator of Chromosome Condensation 1 (RCC1)-like domain and a carboxyl-terminal Homologous to the E6-AP Carboxyl Terminus (HECT) domain. HERC5 is the main cellular E3 ligase that conjugates the IFN-induced protein ISG15 to proteins. This E3 ligase activity was previously shown to inhibit the replication of evolutionarily diverse viruses, including HIV-1. The contribution of the RCC1-like domain to the antiviral activity of HERC5 was previously unknown. Results: In this study, we showed that HERC5 inhibits HIV-1 particle production by a second distinct mechanism that targets the nuclear export of Rev/RRE-dependent RNA. Unexpectedly, the E3 ligase activity of HERC5 was not required for this inhibition. Instead, this activity required the amino-terminal RCC1-like domain of HERC5. Inhibition correlated with a reduction in intracellular RanGTP protein levels and/or the ability of RanGTP to interact with RanBP1. Inhibition also correlated with altered subcellular localization of HIV-1 Rev. In addition, we demonstrated that positive evolutionary selection is operating on HERC5. We identified a region in the RCC1-like domain that exhibits an exceptionally high probability of having evolved under positive selection and showed that this region is required for HERC5-mediated inhibition of nuclear export. Conclusions: We have identified a second distinct mechanism by which HERC5 inhibits HIV-1 replication and demonstrate that HERC5 is evolving under strong positive selection. Together, our findings contribute to a growing body of evidence suggesting that HERC5 is a novel host restriction factor.

  • Structural and biochemical insights into the V/I505T mutation found in the EIAV gp45 vaccine strain

  • Background: The equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV) is a lentivirus of the Retrovirus family, which causes persistent infection in horses often characterized by recurrent episodes of high fever. It has a similar morphology and life cycle to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Its transmembrane glycoprotein, gp45 (analogous to gp41 in HIV), mediates membrane fusion during the infection. However, the post-fusion conformation of EIAV gp45 has not yet been determined. EIAV is the first member of the lentiviruses for which an effective vaccine has been successfully developed. The attenuated vaccine strain, FDDV, has been produced from a pathogenic strain by a series of passages in donkey dermal cells. We have previously reported that a V/I505T mutation in gp45, in combination with other mutations in gp90, may potentially contribute to the success of the vaccine strain. To this end, we now report on our structural and biochemical studies of the gp45 protein from both wide type and vaccine strain, providing a valuable structural model for the advancement of the EIAV vaccine. Results: We resolved crystal structures of the ecto-domain of gp45 from both the wild-type EIAV and the vaccine strain FDDV. We found that the V/I505T mutation in gp45 was located in a highly conserved d position within the heptad repeat, which protruded into a 3-fold symmetry axis within the six-helix bundle. Our crystal structure analyses revealed a shift of a hydrophobic to hydrophilic interaction due to this specific mutation, and further biochemical and virological studies confirmed that the mutation reduced the overall stability of the six-helix bundle in post-fusion conformation. Moreover, we found that altering the temperatures drastically affected the viral infectivity. Conclusions: Our high-resolution crystal structures of gp45 exhibited high conservation between the gp45/gp41 structures of lentiviruses. In addition, a hydrophobic to hydrophilic interaction change in the EIAV vaccine strain was found to modulate the stability and thermal-sensitivity of the overall gp45 structure. Our observations suggest that lowering the stability of the six-helix bundle (post-fusion), which may stabilizes the pre-fusion conformation, might be one of the reasons of acquired dominance for FDDV in viral attenuation.

  • Vpx complementation of `non-macrophage tropic¿ R5 viruses reveals robust entry of infectious HIV-1 cores into macrophages

  • Background: It is now known that clinically derived viruses are most commonly R5 tropic with very low infectivity in macrophages. As these viruses utilize CD4 inefficiently, defective entry has been assumed to be the dominant restriction. The implication is that macrophages are not an important reservoir for the majority of circulating viruses. Results: Macrophage infection by clinical transmitted/founder isolates was 10-100 and 30-450 fold less efficient as compared to YU-2 and BaL respectively. Vpx complementation augmented macrophage infection by non-macrophage tropic viruses to the level of infectivity observed for YU-2 in the absence of Vpx. Augmentation was evident even when Vpx was provided 24 hours post-infection. The entry defect was measured as 2.5-5 fold, with a further 3.5-10 fold block at strong stop and subsequent stages of reverse transcription as compared to YU-2. The overall block to infection was critically dependent on the mechanism of entry as demonstrated by rescue of infection after pseudotyping with VSV-G envelope. Reverse transcription in macrophages could not be enhanced using a panel of cytokines or lipopolysaccharide (LPS). Conclusions: Although the predominant block to clinical transmitted/founder viruses is post-entry, infectivity is determined by Env-CD4 interactions and can be rescued with VSV-G pseudotyping. This suggests a functional link between the optimal entry pathway taken by macrophage tropic viruses and downstream events required for reverse transcription. Consistent with a predominantly post-entry block, replication of R5 using viruses can be greatly enhanced by Vpx. We conclude therefore that entry is not the limiting step and that macrophages represent clinically relevant reservoirs for‘non-macrophage tropic’ viruses.

  • Structural basis for the inhibition of HIV-1 Nef by a high-affinity binding single-domain antibody

  • Background: The HIV-1 Nef protein is essential for AIDS pathogenesis by its interaction with host cell surface receptors and signaling factors. Despite its critical role as a virulence factor Nef is not targeted by current antiviral strategies. Results: We have determined the crystal structure of the complex formed by a camelid single-domain antibody fragment, termed sdAb19, bound to HIV-1 Nef together with a stabilizing SH3 domain. sdAb19 forms a stoichiometric 1:1 complex with Nef and binds to a conformationally conserved surface at the C-terminus of Nef that overlaps with functionally important interaction sites involved in Nef-induced perturbations of signaling and trafficking pathways. The antibody fragment binds Nef with low nanomolar affinity, which could be attenuated to micromolar affinity range by site-directed mutagenesis of key interaction residues in sdAb19. Fusion of the SH3 domain to sdAb19, termed Neffin, leads to a significantly increased affinity for Nef and formation of a stoichiometric 2:2 Nef–Neffin complex. The 19 kDa Neffin protein inhibits all functions of Nef as CD4 and MHC-I downregulation, association with Pak2, and the increase in virus infectivity and replication. Conclusions: Together, sdAb19 and Neffin thus represent efficient tools for the rational development of antiviral strategies against HIV-1 Nef.

  • A novel HIV-1-encoded microRNA enhances its viral replication by targeting the TATA box region

  • Background: A lot of microRNAs (miRNAs) derived from viral genomes have been identified. Many of them play various important roles in virus replication and virus-host interaction. Cellular miRNAs have been shown to participate in the regulation of HIV-1 viral replication, while the role of viral-encoded miRNAs in this process is largely unknown. Results: In this report, through a strategy combining computational prediction and deep sequencing, we identified a novel HIV-1-encoded miRNA, miR-H3. MiR-H3 locates in the mRNA region encoding the active center of reverse transcriptase (RT) and exhibits high sequence conservation among different subtypes of HIV-1 viruses. Overexpression of miR-H3 increases viral production and the mutations in miR-H3 sequence significantly impair the viral replication of wildtype HIV-1 viruses, suggesting that it is a replication-enhancing miRNA. MiR-H3 upregulates HIV-1 RNA transcription and protein expression. A serial deletion assay suggests that miR-H3 targets HIV-1 5′ LTR and upregulates the promoter activity. It interacts with the TATA box in HIV-1 5′ LTR and sequence-specifically activates the viral transcription. In addition, chemically-synthesized small RNAs targeting HIV-1 TATA box activate HIV-1 production from resting CD4+ T cells isolated from HIV-1-infected patients on suppressive highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Conclusions: We have identified a novel HIV-1-encoded miRNA which specifically enhances viral production and provide a specific method to activate HIV-1 latency.

  • The number and genetic relatedness of transmitted/founder virus impact clinical outcome in vaginal R5 SHIVSF162P3N infection

  • Background: Severe genetic bottleneck occurs during HIV-1 sexual transmission whereby most infections are initiated by a single transmitted/founder (T/F) virus. Similar observations had been made in nonhuman primates exposed mucosally to SIV/SHIV. We previously reported variable clinical outcome in rhesus macaques inoculated intravaginally (ivg) with a high dose of R5 SHIVSF162P3N. Given the potential contributions of viral diversity to HIV-1 persistence and AIDS pathogenesis and recombination between retroviral genomes increases the genetic diversity, we tested the hypothesis that transmission of multiple variants contributes to heightened levels of virus replication and faster disease progression in the SHIVSF162P3N ivg-infected monkeys. Results: We found that the differences in viral replication and disease progression between the transiently viremic (TV; n = 2), chronically-infected (CP; n = 8) and rapid progressor (RP; n = 4) ivg-infected macaques cannot be explained by which variant in the inoculum was infecting the animal. Rather, transmission of a single variant was observed in both TV rhesus, with 1–2 T/F viruses found in the CPs and 2–4 in all four RP macaques. Moreover, the genetic relatedness of the T/F viruses in the CP monkeys with multivariant transmission was greater than that seen in the RPs. Biological characterization of a subset of T/F envelopes from chronic and rapid progressors revealed differences in their ability to mediate entry into monocyte-derived macrophages, with enhanced macrophage tropism observed in the former as compared to the latter. Conclusion: Our study supports the tenet that sequence diversity of the infecting virus contributes to higher steady-state levels of HIV-1 virus replication and faster disease progression and highlights the role of macrophage tropism in HIV-1 transmission and persistence.
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