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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

  • HIV-1 Vpu utilizes both cullin-RING ligase (CRL) dependent and independent mechanisms to downmodulate host proteins

  • Background: Hijacking of the cullin-RING E3 ubiquitin ligase (CRL) machinery is a common mechanism employed by diverse groups of viruses for the efficient counteraction and degradation of host proteins. In particular, HIV-1 Vpu usurps the SCFβ-TrCP E3 ubiquitin ligase complex to mark CD4 for degradation by the 26S proteasome. Vpu also interacts with and downmodulates a number of other host proteins, including the restriction factor BST-2. However, whether Vpu primarily relies on a cullin-dependent or -independent mechanism to antagonize its cellular targets has not been fully elucidated. Results: We utilized a sulphamate AMP analog, MLN4924, to effectively block the activation of CRLs within infected primary CD4 + T cells. MLN4924 treatment, in a dose dependent manner, efficiently relieved surface downmodulation and degradation of CD4 by NL4-3 Vpu. MLN4924 inhibition was highly specific, as this inhibitor had no effect on Nef’s ability to downregulate CD4, which is accomplished by a CRL-independent mechanism. In contrast, NL4-3 Vpu’s capacity to downregulate BST-2, NTB-A and CCR7 was not inhibited by the drug. Vpu’s from both a transmitted founder (T/F) and chronic carrier (CC) virus preserved the ability to downregulate BST-2 in the presence of MLN4924. Finally, depletion of cellular pools of cullin 1 attenuated Vpu’s ability to decrease CD4 but not BST-2 surface levels. Conclusions: We conclude that Vpu employs both CRL-dependent and CRL-independent modes of action against host proteins. Notably, we also establish that Vpu-mediated reduction of BST-2 from the cell surface is independent ofβ-TrCP and the CRL- machinery and this function is conserved by Vpu’s from primary isolates. Therefore, potential therapies aimed at antagonizing the activities of Vpu may need to address these distinct mechanisms of action in order to achieve a maximal effect.

  • ABX464: a good drug candidate instead of a magic bullet

  • Despite the significant number of antiviral drugs that are currently available in the clinics of developed countries, none of these affect the production stage of HIV-1 replication, more specifically the process of viral gene expression. For instance, several early attempts failed to generate inhibitors of the viral Tat protein, the small activator of viral transcription from the long terminal repeat (LTR) promoter. A recent study published in Retrovirology by Campos et al. presents a new small molecule inhibitor, ABX464, that targets the other small viral protein essential for viral gene expression, the Rev protein (Retrovirology 12:30, 2015). Targeting of multiple virus replication steps and silencing the generation of new progeny may be of particular value for current attempts to develop novel therapeutic strategies that provide a cure or functional cure for HIV-1 infection (Nat Rev Immunol 12: 607–614, 2012). We will briefly review some of the unique antiviral properties of ABX464, with the focus on its surprising ability to exhibit a sustained antiviral effect in a humanized mouse model. Although ABX464 may remain an important new addition to the anti-HIV arsenal, we do present a sobering alternative explanation for the long-lasting reduction in viral load after treatment cessation.

  • Reactivation of latent HIV-1 provirus via targeting protein phosphatase-1

  • Background: HIV-1 escapes antiretroviral drugs by integrating into the host DNA and forming a latent transcriptionally silent HIV-1 provirus. This provirus presents the major hurdle in HIV-1 eradication and cure. Transcriptional activation, which is prerequisite for reactivation and the eradication of latent proviruses, is impaired in latently infected T cells due to the lack of host transcription factors, primarily NF-κB and P-TEFb (CDK9/cyclin T1). We and others previously showed that protein phosphatase-1 (PP1) regulates HIV-1 transcription by modulating CDK9 phosphorylation. Recently we have developed a panel of small molecular compounds targeting a non-catalytic site of PP1. Results: Here we generated a new class of sulfonamide-containing compounds that activated HIV-1 in acute and latently infected cells. Among the tested molecules, a small molecule activator of PP1 (SMAPP1) induced both HIV-1 replication and reactivation of latent HIV-1 in chronically infected cultured and primary cells. In vitro, SMAPP1 interacted with PP1 and increased PP1 activity toward a recombinant substrate. Treatment with SMAPP1 increased phosphorylation of CDK9’s Ser90 and Thr186 residues, but not Ser175. Proteomic analysis showed upregulation of P-TEFb and PP1 related proteins, including PP1 regulatory subunit Sds22 in SMAPP1-treated T cells. Docking analysis identified a PP1 binding site for SMAPP1 located within the C-terminal binding pocket of PP1. Conclusion: We identified a novel class of PP1-targeting compounds that reactivate latent HIV-1 provirus by targeting PP1, increasing CDK9 phosphorylation and enhancing HIV transcription. This compound represents a novel candidate for anti-HIV-1 therapeutics aiming at eradication of latent HIV-1 reservoirs.

  • HIV inhibits endothelial reverse cholesterol transport through impacting subcellular Caveolin-1 trafficking

  • Background: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection leads to decreased reverse cholesterol transport (RCT) in macrophages, and Nef mediated down-regulation and redistribution of ATP-binding cassette transporter A1 (ABCA1) are identified as key factors for this effect. This may partially explain the increased risk of atherosclerosis in HIV infected individuals. Since endothelial dysfunction is key in the initial stages of atherosclerosis, we sought to determine whether RCT was affected in human aortic endothelial cells (HAECs). Results: We found that apoA-I does not significantly stimulate cholesterol efflux in HAECs while cholesterol efflux to high-density lipoprotein (HDL) was dramatically reduced in HAECs co-cultured with HIV infected cells. Studies with wild type and Nef defective HIV revealed no significant differences suggesting that multiple factors are working perhaps in concert with Nef to affect cholesterol efflux to HDL from HAECs. Interestingly, treating HAECs with recombinant Nef showed similar effect in HDL mediated cholesterol efflux as observed in HAECs co-cultured with HIV infected cells. Using a detergent-free based subcellular fractionation approach, we demonstrated that exposure of HAECs to HIV infected cells or Nef alone disrupts caveolin 1 (Cav-1) subcellular trafficking upon HDL stimulation. Moreover, Nef significantly enhanced tyrosine 14 phosphorylation of Cav-1 which may have an impact on recycling of Cav-1 and caveolae. Conclusion: These results suggest that HIV interferes with cholesterol efflux by HDL in HAECs through the disruption of Cav-1s’ cellular distribution and that multiple factors are involved, possibly including Nef, for the inhibition of HDL mediated cholesterol efflux and alteration of cellular distribution of Cav-1.

  • In vivo analysis of Nefaamp;#8217;s role in HIV-1 replication, systemic T cell activation and CD4 llt;supggt;+llt;/supggt; T cell loss

  • Background: Nef is a multifunctional HIV-1 protein critical for progression to AIDS. Humans infected with nef(−) HIV-1 have greatly delayed or no disease consequences. We have contrasted nef(−) and nef(+) infection of BLT humanized mice to better characterize Nef’s pathogenic effects. Results: Mice were inoculated with CCR5-tropic HIV-1 JRCSF (JRCSF) or JRCSF with an irreversibly inactivated nef (JRCSFNefdd). In peripheral blood (PB), JRCSF exhibited high levels of viral RNA (peak viral loads of 4.71 × 10 6 ± 1.23 × 10 6 copies/ml) and a progressive, 75% loss of CD4 + T cells over 17 weeks. Similar losses were observed in CD4 + T cells from bone marrow, spleen, lymph node, lung and liver but thymocytes were not significantly decreased. JRCSFNefdd also had high peak viral loads (2.31 × 10 6 ± 1.67 × 10 6 ) but induced no loss of PB CD4 + T cells. In organs, JRCSFNefdd produced small, but significant, reductions in CD4 + T cell levels and did not affect the level of thymocytes. Uninfected mice have low levels of HLA-DR + CD38 + CD8 + T cells in blood (1–2%). Six weeks post inoculation, JRCSF infection resulted in significantly elevated levels of activated CD8 + T cells (6.37 ± 1.07%). T cell activation coincided with PB CD4 + T cell loss which suggests a common Nef-dependent mechanism. At 12 weeks, in JRCSF infected animals PB T cell activation sharply increased to 19.7 ± 2.9% then subsided to 5.4 ± 1.4% at 14 weeks. HLA-DR + CD38 + CD8 + T cell levels in JRCSFNefdd infected mice did not rise above 1–2% despite sustained high levels of viremia. Interestingly, we also noted that in mice engrafted with human tissue expressing a putative protective HLA-B allele (B42:01), JRCSFNefdd exhibited a substantial (200-fold) reduced viral load compared to JRCSF. Conclusions: Nef expression was necessary for both systemic T cell activation and substantial CD4 + T cell loss from blood and tissues. JRCSFNefdd infection did not activate CD8 + T cells or reduce the level of CD4 + T cells in blood but did result in a small Nef-independent decrease in CD4 + T cells in organs. These observations strongly support the conclusion that viral pathogenicity is mostly driven by Nef. We also observed for the first time substantial host-specific suppression of HIV-1 replication in a small animal infection model.

  • HIV-1 and HIV-2 exhibit similar mutation frequencies and spectra in the absence of G-to-A hypermutation

  • Background: Human immunodeficiency virus type 2 (HIV-2) is often distinguished clinically by lower viral loads, reduced transmissibility, and longer asymptomatic periods than for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). Differences in the mutation frequencies of HIV-1 and HIV-2 have been hypothesized to contribute to the attenuated progression of HIV-2 observed clinically. Results: To address this hypothesis, we performed Illumina sequencing of multiple amplicons prepared from cells infected with HIV-1 or HIV-2, resulting in ~4.7 million read pairs and the identification of ~200,000 mutations after data processing. We observed that: (1) HIV-2 displayed significantly lower total mutation, substitution, and transition mutation frequencies than that of HIV-1, along with a mutation spectrum markedly less biased toward G-to-A transitions, (2) G-to-A hypermutation consistent with the activity of APOBEC3 proteins was observed for both HIV-1 and HIV-2 despite the presence of Vif, (3) G-to-A hypermutation was significantly higher for HIV-1 than for HIV-2, and (4) HIV-1 and HIV-2 total mutation frequencies were not significantly different in the absence of G-to-A hypermutants. Conclusions: Taken together, these data demonstrate that HIV-2 exhibits a distinct mutational spectrum and a lower mutation frequency relative to HIV-1. However, the observed differences were primarily due to reduced levels of G-to-A hypermutation for HIV-2. These findings suggest that HIV-2 may be less susceptible than HIV-1 to APOBEC3-mediated hypermutation, but that the fidelities of other mutational sources (such as reverse transcriptase) are relatively similar for HIV-1 and HIV-2. Overall, these data imply that differences in replication fidelity are likely not a major contributing factor to the unique clinical features of HIV-2 infection.

  • 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.
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