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Jean-Yves Sgro
Inst. for Mol.Virology
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Table of Contents for this page:

  • Current Issue
  • Current Issue of Retrovirology

    Retrovirology - Latest Articles

  • Conserved determinants of lentiviral genome dimerization

  • Background: Retroviruses selectively package two copies of their unspliced genomes by what appears to be a dimerization-dependent RNA packaging mechanism. Dimerization of human immunodeficiency virus Type-1 (HIV-1) genomes is initiated by“kissing” interactions between GC-rich palindromic loop residues of a conserved hairpin (DIS), and is indirectly promoted by long-range base pairing between residues overlapping the gag start codon (AUG) and an upstream Unique 5′ element (U5). The DIS and U5:AUG structures are phylogenetically conserved among divergent retroviruses, suggesting conserved functions. However, some studies suggest that the DIS of HIV-2 does not participate in dimerization, and that U5:AUG pairing inhibits, rather than promotes, genome dimerization. We prepared RNAs corresponding to native and mutant forms of the 5′ leaders of HIV-1 (NL4-3 strain), HIV-2 (ROD strain), and two divergent strains of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV; cpz-TAN1 and -US strains), and probed for potential roles of the DIS and U5:AUG base pairing on intrinsic and NC-dependent dimerization by mutagenesis, gel electrophoresis, and NMR spectroscopy. Results: Dimeric forms of the native HIV-2 and SIV leaders were only detectable using running buffers that contained Mg 2+ , indicating that these dimers are more labile than that of the HIV-1 leader. Mutations designed to promote U5:AUG base pairing promoted dimerization of the HIV-2 and SIV RNAs, whereas mutations that prevented U5:AUG pairing inhibited dimerization. Chimeric HIV-2 and SIV leader RNAs containing the dimer-promoting loop of HIV-1 (DIS) exhibited HIV-1 leader-like dimerization properties, whereas an HIV-1 NL4-3 mutant containing the SIV cpzTAN1 DIS loop behaved like the SIV cpzTAN1 leader. The cognate NC proteins exhibited varying abilities to promote dimerization of the retroviral leader RNAs, but none were able to convert labile dimers to non-labile dimers. Conclusions: The finding that U5:AUG formation promotes dimerization of the full-length HIV-1, HIV-2, SIV cpzUS , and SIV cpzTAN1 5′ leaders suggests that these retroviruses utilize a common RNA structural switch mechanism to modulate function. Differences in native and NC-dependent dimerization propensity and lability are due to variations in the compositions of the DIS loop residues rather than other sequences within the leader RNAs. Although NC is a well-known RNA chaperone, its role in dimerization has the hallmarks of a classical riboswitch.

  • Presenting native-like HIV-1 envelope trimers on ferritin nanoparticles improves their immunogenicity

  • Background: Presenting vaccine antigens in particulate form can improve their immunogenicity by enhancing B cell activation.FindingsWe describe ferritin-based protein nanoparticles that display multiple copies of native-like HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein trimers (BG505 SOSIP.664). Trimer-bearing nanoparticles were significantly more immunogenic than trimers in both mice and rabbits. Furthermore, rabbits immunized with the trimer-bearing nanoparticles induced significantly higher neutralizing antibody responses against most tier 1A viruses, and higher responses (but not significantly), to several tier 1B viruses and the autologous tier 2 virus than when the same trimers were delivered as soluble proteins. Conclusions: This or other nanoparticle designs may be practical ways to improve the immunogenicity of envelope glycoprotein trimers.

  • Discrete partitioning of HIV-1 Env forms revealed by viral capture

  • Background: The structure of HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (Env) is flexible and heterogeneous on whole virions. Although functional Env complexes are thought to require trimerization of cleaved gp41/gp120 heterodimers, variable processing can result in the potential incorporation of non-functional uncleaved proteins (gp160), non-trimeric arrangements of gp41/gp120 heterodimers, and gp120 depleted gp41 stumps. The potential distribution of functional and non-functional Env forms across replication-competent viral populations may have important implications for neutralizing and non-neutralizing antibody functions. This study applied an immuno-bead viral capture assay (VCA) to interrogate the potential distribution (heterologous vs homologous) of functional and non-functional forms of virion associated Env. Results: The VCA revealed a significant association between depletion of infectious virions and virion Env incorporation, but not between infectivity and p24-gag. Three distinct subpopulations of virions were identified within pools of genetically homogenous viral particles. Critically, a significant subpopulation of infectious virions were exclusively captured by neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) indicative of a homologous distribution of functional trimeric Env forms. A second infectious subpopulation bound both neutralizing and non-neutralizing antibodies (nnAbs) representative of a heterologous distribution of Env forms, while a third non-infectious subpopulation was predominantly bound by nnAbs recognizing gp41 stumps. Conclusions: The observation that a distinct and significant subpopulation of infectious virions is exclusively captured by neutralizing antibodies has important implications for understanding antibody binding and neutralization, as well as other antibody effector functions.

  • Variants in the llt;itggt;CYP7B1llt;/itggt; gene region do not affect natural resistance to HIV-1 infection

  • Background: The genetic bases of natural resistance to HIV-1 infection remain largely unknown. Recently, two genome-wide association studies suggested a role for variants within or in the vicinity of the CYP7B1 gene in modulating HIV susceptibility. CYP7B1 is an appealing candidate for this due to its contribution to antiviral immune responses. We analyzed the frequency of two previously described CYP7B1 variants (rs6996198 and rs10808739) in three independent cohorts of HIV-1 infected subjects and HIV-1 exposed seronegative individuals (HESN).Findingsrs6996198 and rs10808739 were genotyped in three case/control cohorts of sexually-exposed HESN and HIV-1-infected individuals from Italy, Peru and Colombia. Comparison of the allele and genotype frequencies of the two SNPs under different models showed that the only significant difference was seen for rs6996198 in the Peruvian sample (nominal p = 0.048, dominant model). For this variant, a random-effect meta-analysis yielded non-significant results (dominant model, p = 0.78) and revealed substantial heterogeneity among cohorts. No significant effect of the rs10808739 allelic status on HIV-1 infection susceptibility (additive model, p = 0.30) emerged from the meta-analysis. Conclusions: Although our study had limited power to detect association due to the small sample size, comparisons among the three cohorts revealed very similar allelic and genotypic frequencies in HESN and HIV-1 positive subjects. Overall, these data indicate that the two GWAS-defined variants in the CYP7B1 region do not strongly influence HIV-1 infection susceptibility.

  • Gene activity in primary T cells infected with HIV llt;subggt;89.6llt;/subggt; : intron retention and induction of genomic repeats

  • Background: HIV infection has been reported to alter cellular gene activity, but published studies have commonly assayed transformed cell lines and lab-adapted HIV strains, yielding inconsistent results. Here we carried out a deep RNA-Seq analysis of primary human T cells infected with the low passage HIV isolate HIV 89.6 . Results: Seventeen percent of cellular genes showed altered activity 48 h after infection. In a meta-analysis including four other studies, our data differed from studies of HIV infection in cell lines but showed more parallels with infections of primary cells. We found a global trend toward retention of introns after infection, suggestive of a novel cellular response to infection. HIV 89.6 infection was also associated with activation of several human endogenous retroviruses (HERVs) and retrotransposons, of interest as possible novel antigens that could serve as vaccine targets. The most highly activated group of HERVs was a subset of the ERV-9. Analysis showed that activation was associated with a particular variant of ERV-9 long terminal repeats that contains an indel near the U3-R border. These data also allowed quantification of ggt;70 splice forms of the HIV 89.6 RNA and specified the main types of chimeric HIV 89.6 -host RNAs. Comparison to over 100,000 integration site sequences from the same infected cell populations allowed quantification of authentic versus artifactual chimeric reads, showing that 5′ read-in, splicing out of HIV 89.6 from the D4 donor and 3′ read-through were the most common HIV 89.6 -host cell chimeric RNA forms. Conclusions: Analysis of RNA abundance after infection of primary T cells with the low passage HIV 89.6 isolate disclosed multiple novel features of HIV-host interactions, notably intron retention and induction of transcription of retrotransposons and endogenous retroviruses.

  • Intracellular expression of Tat alters mitochondrial functions in T cells: a potential mechanism to understand mitochondrial damage during HIV-1 replication

  • Background: HIV-1 replication results in mitochondrial damage that is enhanced during antiretroviral therapy (ART). The onset of HIV-1 replication is regulated by viral protein Tat, a 101-residue protein codified by two exons that elongates viral transcripts. Although the first exon of Tat (aa 1–72) forms itself an active protein, the presence of the second exon (aa 73–101) results in a more competent transcriptional protein with additional functions. Results: Mitochondrial overall functions were analyzed in Jurkat cells stably expressing full-length Tat (Tat101) or one-exon Tat (Tat72). Representative results were confirmed in PBLs transiently expressing Tat101 and in HIV-infected Jurkat cells. The intracellular expression of Tat101 induced the deregulation of metabolism and cytoskeletal proteins which remodeled the function and distribution of mitochondria. Tat101 reduced the transcription of the mtDNA, resulting in low ATP production. The total amount of mitochondria increased likely to counteract their functional impairment. These effects were enhanced when Tat second exon was expressed. Conclusions: Intracellular Tat altered mtDNA transcription, mitochondrial content and distribution in CD4+ T cells. The importance of Tat second exon in non-transcriptional functions was confirmed. Tat101 may be responsible for mitochondrial dysfunctions found in HIV-1 infected patients.

  • Erratum to: dUTPase: the frequently overlooked enzyme encoded by many retroviruses

  • No description available

  • The role of antigen presenting cells in the induction of HIV-1 latency in resting CD4 llt;supggt;+llt;/supggt; T-cells

  • Background: Combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) is able to control HIV-1 viral replication, however long-lived latent infection in resting memory CD4 + T-cells persist. The mechanisms for establishment and maintenance of latent infection in resting memory CD4 + T-cells remain unclear. Previously we have shown that HIV-1 infection of resting CD4 + T-cells co-cultured with CD11c + myeloid dendritic cells (mDC) produced a population of non-proliferating T-cells with latent infection. Here we asked whether different antigen presenting cells (APC), including subpopulations of DC and monocytes, were able to induce post-integration latent infection in resting CD4 + T-cells, and examined potential cell interactions that may be involved using RNA-seq. Results: mDC (CD1c + ), SLAN + DC and CD14 + monocytes were most efficient in stimulating proliferation of CD4 + T-cells during syngeneic culture and in generating post-integration latent infection in non-proliferating CD4 + T-cells following HIV-1 infection of APC-T cell co-cultures. In comparison, plasmacytoid DC (pDC) and B-cells did not induce latent infection in APC-T-cell co-cultures. We compared the RNA expression profiles of APC subpopulations that could and could not induce latency in non-proliferating CD4 + T-cells. Gene expression analysis, comparing the CD1c + mDC, SLAN + DC and CD14 + monocyte subpopulations to pDC identified 53 upregulated genes that encode proteins expressed on the plasma membrane that could signal to CD4 + T-cells via cell–cell interactions (32 genes), immune checkpoints (IC) (5 genes), T-cell activation (9 genes), regulation of apoptosis (5 genes), antigen presentation (1 gene) and through unknown ligands (1 gene). Conclusions: APC subpopulations from the myeloid lineage, specifically mDC subpopulations and CD14 + monocytes, were able to efficiently induce post-integration HIV-1 latency in non-proliferating CD4 + T-cells in vitro. Inhibition of key pathways involved in mDC-T-cell interactions and HIV-1 latency may provide novel targets to eliminate HIV-1 latency.

  • On the primer binding site mutation that appears and disappears during HIV and SIV replication

  • A recent study by Fennessey et al. (Retrovirology 12:49, 2015 ) described the optimization of a popular SIV clone by removal of four suboptimal point mutations. One of these mutations is present in a non-coding part of the viral genome and is probed in that study in more detail because of some fascinating properties. This primer binding site (PBS) mutation reverts rapidly to the wild-type sequence, which the authors interpret as indicating that this mutation exerts a profound fitness impact. The authors proposed the involvement of a cellular DNA repair mechanism in the reversion. Furthermore, it was suggested that premature termination of reverse transcription can explain why some of the viral progeny still contained the mutant sequence. However, we argue that all these special properties are a direct consequence of the unique nature of the viral PBS motif. The PBS binds the tRNA primer for reverse transcription and the viral progeny inherits either the sequence of the cellular tRNA or the PBS sequence of the viral RNA genome. The presence of a variant tRNA species explains the rapid appearance and disappearance of a variant PBS sequence.

  • HIV-1 protease cleaves the serine-threonine kinases RIPK1 and RIPK2

  • Background: HIV-1 protease (PR) is essential for viral infectivity as it cleaves Gag and Gag-Pol polyprotein precursors during viral maturation. Recent evidence suggests that cellular proteins can also be cleaved by PR, perhaps representing an important viral strategy to counter host defense mechanisms. Receptor-interacting protein kinase 1 (RIPK1) and RIPK2 belong to a family of serine/threonine kinases with conserved domain architecture and important functions in apoptosis, necrosis and innate immunity. Results: We found that RIPK1 and RIPK2 but not other members of the RIP kinase family are cleaved by HIV-1 PR. In RIPK1, we identified a putative PR cleavage site; a mutation at this site rendered RIPK1 resistant to PR cleavage. RIPK1 and RIPK2 were cleaved during HIV-1 infection of T cell lines or primary activated CD4 + T cells. Interfering with the viral life cycle at different stages by the addition of specific inhibitors against RT, integrase, or PR, completely prevented RIPK1 and RIPK2 cleavage. Cleavage of RIPK1 disrupted RIPK1/RIPK3 complex formation and RIPK1-mediated induction of NF-kB. Conclusions: These findings indicate that RIPK1 and RIPK2 are targets of HIV-1 PR activity during infection, and their inactivation may contribute to modulation of cell death and host defense pathways by HIV-1.
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