HIV integrates its provirus into the host genome and establishes latent infection. Antiretroviral therapy (ART) can control HIV viremia, but cannot eradicate or cure the virus. Approaches targeting host epigenetic machinery to repress HIV, leading to an aviremic state free of ART, are needed. Bromodomain and extraterminal (BET) family protein BRD4 is an epigenetic reader involved in HIV transcriptional regulation. Using structure-guided drug design, we identified a small molecule (ZL0580) that induced epigenetic suppression of HIV via BRD4. We showed that ZL0580 induced HIV suppression in multiple in vitro and ex vivo cell models. Combination treatment of cells of aviremic HIV-infected individuals with ART and ZL0580 revealed that ZL0580 accelerated HIV suppression during ART and delayed viral rebound after ART cessation. Mechanistically different from the BET/BRD4 pan-inhibitor JQ1, which nonselectively binds to BD1 and BD2 domains of all BET proteins, ZL0580 selectively bound to BD1 domain of BRD4. We further demonstrate that ZL0580 induced HIV suppression by inhibiting Tat transactivation and transcription elongation as well as by inducing repressive chromatin structure at the HIV promoter. Our findings establish a proof of concept for modulation of BRD4 to epigenetically suppress HIV and provide a promising chemical scaffold for the development of probes and/or therapeutic agents for HIV epigenetic silencing.
Qingli Niu, Zhiqing Liu, Edrous Alamer, Xiuzhen Fan, Haiying Chen, Janice Endsley, Benjamin B. Gelman, Bing Tian, Jerome H. Kim, Nelson L. Michael, Merlin L. Robb, Jintanat Ananworanich, Jia Zhou, Haitao Hu
BACKGROUND Persistence of HIV in sanctuary sites despite antiretroviral therapy (ART) presents a barrier to HIV remission and may affect neurocognitive function. We assessed HIV persistence in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and associations with inflammation and neurocognitive performance during long-term ART.METHODS Participants enrolled in the AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) HIV Reservoirs Cohort Study (A5321) underwent concurrent lumbar puncture, phlebotomy, and neurocognitive assessment. Cell-associated HIV DNA and HIV RNA (CA-DNA, CA-RNA) were measured by quantitative PCR (qPCR). in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and in cell pellets from CSF. In CSF supernatant and blood plasma, cell-free HIV RNA was quantified by qPCR with single copy sensitivity, and inflammatory biomarkers were measured by enzyme immunoassay.RESULTS Sixty-nine participants (97% male, median age 50 years, CD4 696 cells/mm3, plasma HIV RNA <100 copies/mL) were assessed after a median 8.6 years of ART. In CSF, cell-free RNA was detected in 4%, CA-RNA in 9%, and CA-DNA in 48% of participants (median level 2.1 copies/103 cells). Detection of cell-free CSF HIV RNA was associated with higher plasma HIV RNA (P = 0.007). CSF inflammatory biomarkers did not correlate with HIV persistence measures. Detection of CSF CA-DNA HIV was associated with worse neurocognitive outcomes including global deficit score (P = 0.005), even after adjusting for age and nadir CD4 count.CONCLUSION HIV-infected cells persist in CSF in almost half of individuals on long-term ART, and their detection is associated with poorer neurocognitive performance.FUNDING This observational study, AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG) HIV Reservoirs Cohort Study (A5321), was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIAID and NIMH).
Serena Spudich, Kevin R. Robertson, Ronald J. Bosch, Rajesh T. Gandhi, Joshua C. Cyktor, Hanna Mar, Bernard J. Macatangay, Christina M. Lalama, Charles Rinaldo, Ann C. Collier, Catherine Godfrey, Joseph J. Eron, Deborah McMahon, Jana L. Jacobs, Dianna Koontz, Evelyn Hogg, Alyssa Vecchio, John W. Mellors
Cytosolic arginine sensor for mTORC1 subunits 1 and 2 (CASTOR1 and CASTOR2) inhibit the mammalian target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) upon arginine deprivation. mTORC1 regulates cell proliferation, survival, and metabolism and is often dysregulated in cancers, indicating that cancer cells may regulate CASTOR1 and CASTOR2 to control mTORC1 signaling and promote tumorigenesis. mTORC1 is the most effective therapeutic target of Kaposi sarcoma, which is caused by infection with the Kaposi sarcoma–associated herpesvirus (KSHV). Hence, KSHV-induced cellular transformation is a suitable model for investigating mTORC1 regulation in cancer cells. Currently, the mechanism of KSHV activation of mTORC1 in KSHV-induced cancers remains unclear. We showed that KSHV suppressed CASTOR1 and CASTOR2 expression to activate the mTORC1 pathway. CASTOR1 or CASTOR2 overexpression and mTOR inhibitors abolished cell proliferation and colony formation in soft agar of KSHV-transformed cells by attenuating mTORC1 activation. Furthermore, the KSHV-encoded miRNA miR-K4-5p, and probably miR-K1-5p, directly targeted CASTOR1 to inhibit its expression. Knockdown of miR-K1-5p and -K4-5p restored CASTOR1 expression and thereby attenuated mTORC1 activation. Overexpression of CASTOR1 or CASTOR2 and mTOR inhibitors abolished the activation of mTORC1 and growth transformation induced by pre–miR-K1 and -K4. Our results define the mechanism of KSHV activation of the mTORC1 pathway and establish the scientific basis for targeting this pathway to treat KSHV-associated cancers.
Tingting Li, Enguo Ju, Shou-Jiang Gao
Ritonavir (RTV) is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines for antiretroviral therapy, but can cause hepatotoxicity by unknown mechanisms. Multiple clinical studies found that hepatotoxicity occurred in 100% of participants who were pretreated with rifampicin or efavirenz followed by RTV-containing regimens. Both rifampicin and efavirenz are activators of the pregnane X receptor (PXR), a transcription factor with significant inter-species differences in ligand-dependent activation. Using PXR-humanized mouse models, we recapitulated the RTV hepatotoxicity observed in the clinic. PXR was found to modulate RTV hepatotoxicity through CYP3A4-dependent pathways involved in RTV bioactivation, oxidative stress, and endoplasmic reticulum stress. In summary, the current work demonstrated the essential roles of human PXR and CYP3A4 in RTV hepatotoxicity, which can be applied to guide the safe use of RTV-containing regimens in the clinic.
Amina I. Shehu, Jie Lu, Pengcheng Wang, Junjie Zhu, Yue Wang, Da Yang, Deborah McMahon, Wen Xie, Frank J. Gonzalez, Xiaochao Ma
BACKGROUND. Cryptococcal meningitis (CM) causes an estimated 180,000 deaths annually, predominantly in sub-Saharan Africa, where most patients receive fluconazole (FLC) monotherapy. While relapse after FLC monotherapy with resistant strains is frequently observed, the mechanisms and impact of emergence of FLC resistance in human CM are poorly understood. Heteroresistance (HetR) — a resistant subpopulation within a susceptible strain — is a recently described phenomenon in Cryptococcus neoformans (Cn) and Cryptococcus gattii (Cg), the significance of which has not previously been studied in humans. METHODS. A cohort of 20 patients with HIV-associated CM in Tanzania was prospectively observed during therapy with either FLC monotherapy or in combination with flucytosine (5FC). Total and resistant subpopulations of Cryptococcus spp. were quantified directly from patient cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Stored isolates underwent whole genome sequencing and phenotypic characterization. RESULTS. Heteroresistance was detectable in Cryptococcus spp. in the CSF of all patients at baseline (i.e., prior to initiation of therapy). During FLC monotherapy, the proportion of resistant colonies in the CSF increased during the first 2 weeks of treatment. In contrast, no resistant subpopulation was detectable in CSF by day 14 in those receiving a combination of FLC and 5FC. Genomic analysis revealed high rates of aneuploidy in heteroresistant colonies as well as in relapse isolates, with chromosome 1 (Chr1) disomy predominating. This is apparently due to the presence on Chr1 of ERG11, which is the FLC drug target, and AFR1, which encodes a drug efflux pump. In vitro efflux levels positively correlated with the level of heteroresistance. CONCLUSION. Our findings demonstrate for what we believe is the first time the presence and emergence of aneuploidy-driven FLC heteroresistance in human CM, association of efflux levels with heteroresistance, and the successful suppression of heteroresistance with 5FC/FLC combination therapy. FUNDING. This work was supported by the Wellcome Trust Strategic Award for Medical Mycology and Fungal Immunology 097377/Z/11/Z and the Daniel Turnberg Travel Fellowship.
Neil R.H. Stone, Johanna Rhodes, Matthew C. Fisher, Sayoki Mfinanga, Sokoine Kivuyo, Joan Rugemalila, Ella Shtifman Segal, Leor Needleman, Síle F. Molloy, June Kwon-Chung, Thomas S. Harrison, William Hope, Judith Berman, Tihana Bicanic
Chromosomal integration of genome-intact HIV-1 sequences into the host genome creates a reservoir of virally infected cells that persists throughout life, necessitating indefinite antiretroviral suppression therapy. During effective antiviral treatment, the majority of these proviruses remain transcriptionally silent, but mechanisms responsible for viral latency are insufficiently clear. Here, we used matched integration site and proviral sequencing (MIP-Seq), an experimental approach involving multiple displacement amplification of individual proviral species, followed by near-full-length HIV-1 next-generation sequencing and corresponding chromosomal integration site analysis to selectively map the chromosomal positions of intact and defective proviruses in 3 HIV-1–infected individuals undergoing long-term antiretroviral therapy. Simultaneously, chromatin accessibility and gene expression in autologous CD4+ T cells were analyzed by assays for transposase-accessible chromatin using sequencing (ATAC-Seq) and RNA-Seq. We observed that in comparison to proviruses with defective sequences, intact HIV-1 proviruses were enriched for non-genic chromosomal positions and more frequently showed an opposite orientation relative to host genes. In addition, intact HIV-1 proviruses were preferentially integrated in either relative proximity to or increased distance from active transcriptional start sites and to accessible chromatin regions. These studies strongly suggest selection of intact proviruses with features of deeper viral latency during prolonged antiretroviral therapy, and may be informative for targeting the genome-intact viral reservoir.
Kevin B. Einkauf, Guinevere Q. Lee, Ce Gao, Radwa Sharaf, Xiaoming Sun, Stephane Hua, Samantha M.Y. Chen, Chenyang Jiang, Xiaodong Lian, Fatema Z. Chowdhury, Eric S. Rosenberg, Tae-Wook Chun, Jonathan Z. Li, Xu G. Yu, Mathias Lichterfeld
BACKGROUND. Varicella-zoster virus (VZV) is under consideration as a promising recombinant viral vector to deliver foreign antigens including HIV. However, new vectors have come under increased scrutiny since vaccination with Ad5-vectored HIV vaccine trials demonstrated increased HIV risk in individuals with pre-immunity to the vector which was thought to be associated with mucosal immune activation (IA). Therefore, defining the impact of VZV vaccination on IA is particularly important with the prospect of developing an HIV/VZV chimeric vaccine. METHODS. VZV-seropositive healthy Kenyan women (n=44) were immunized with high dose live-attenuated VZV vaccine, and the expression of IA markers including CD38 and HLA-DR on CD4 T cells isolated from blood, cervix and rectum, markers of cell migration and tissue retention and the concentration of genital and intestinal cytokines were assessed. A delayed group (n=22) was used to control for natural variations in these parameters. RESULTS. Although immunogenic, VZV vaccination did not result in significant difference in the frequency of cervical activated (HLA-DR+CD38+) CD4 T cells (median 1.61%, IQR 0.93%-2.76%) at 12 weeks post-vaccination when compared to baseline (median 1.58%, IQR 0.75%-3.04%), the primary outcome for this study. VZV vaccination also had no measurable effect on any of the IA parameters at 4, 8 and 12 weeks post-vaccination. CONCLUSION. This study provides the first-ever evidence about the effects of VZV-vaccination on human mucosal IA status and supports further evaluation of VZV as a potential vector in an HIV vaccine. TRIAL REGISTRATION. ClinicalTrials.gov NCT02514018. FUNDING. Primary support from CIHR. For others see below.
Catia T. Perciani, Bashir Farah, Rupert Kaul, Mario A. Ostrowski, Salaheddin M. Mahmud, Omu Anzala, Walter Jaoko, Kelly S. MacDonald
A considerable body of evidence suggests that Fc-dependent functions improve the capacity of broadly neutralizing antibodies (BnAbs) to protect against and control HIV-1 infection. This phenomenon, however, has not been formally tested in robust cell-associated macaque simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) models with newer-generation BnAbs. We studied both the WT BnAb PGT121 and a LALA mutant of PGT121 (which has impaired Fc-dependent functions) for their ability to protect pigtail macaques from an i.v. high-dose cell-associated SHIVSF162P3 challenge. We found that both WT and LALA PGT121 completely protected all 12 macaques studied. Further, partial depletion of NK cells, key mediators of Fc-dependent functions, did not abrogate the protective efficacy of PGT121 in 6 macaques. Additionally, in animals with established SHIVSF162P3 infection, SHIV viremia levels were equally rapidly reduced by LALA and WT PGT121. Our studies suggest that the potent neutralizing capacity of PGT121 renders the Fc-dependent functions of the Ab at least partially redundant. These findings have implications for Ab-mediated protection from and control of HIV-1 infection.
Matthew S. Parsons, Wen Shi Lee, Anne B. Kristensen, Thakshila Amarasena, Georges Khoury, Adam K. Wheatley, Arnold Reynaldi, Bruce D. Wines, P. Mark Hogarth, Miles P. Davenport, Stephen J. Kent
Immune nonresponder (INR) HIV-1–infected subjects are characterized by their inability to reconstitute the CD4+ T cell pool after antiretroviral therapy. This is linked to poor clinical outcome. Mechanisms underlying immune reconstitution failure are poorly understood, although, counterintuitively, INRs often have increased frequencies of circulating CD4+ T cells in the cell cycle. While cycling CD4+ T cells from healthy controls and HIV+ patients with restored CD4+ T cell numbers complete cell division in vitro, cycling CD4+ T cells from INRs do not. Here, we show that cells with the phenotype and transcriptional profile of Tregs were enriched among cycling cells in health and in HIV infection. Yet there were diminished frequencies and numbers of Tregs among cycling CD4+ T cells in INRs, and cycling CD4+ T cells from INR subjects displayed transcriptional profiles associated with the impaired development and maintenance of functional Tregs. Flow cytometric assessment of TGF-β activity confirmed the dysfunction of Tregs in INR subjects. Transcriptional profiling and flow cytometry revealed diminished mitochondrial fitness in Tregs among INRs, and cycling Tregs from INRs had low expression of the mitochondrial biogenesis regulators peroxisome proliferator–activated receptor γ coactivator 1-α (PGC1α) and transcription factor A for mitochondria (TFAM). In vitro exposure to IL-15 allowed cells to complete division, restored the expression of PGC1α and TFAM, and regenerated mitochondrial fitness in the cycling Tregs of INRs. Our data suggest that rescuing mitochondrial function could correct the immune dysfunction characteristic of Tregs in HIV-1–infected subjects who fail to restore CD4+ T cells during antiretroviral therapy.
Souheil-Antoine Younes, Aarthi Talla, Susan Pereira Ribeiro, Evgeniya V. Saidakova, Larisa B. Korolevskaya, Konstantin V. Shmagel, Carey L. Shive, Michael L. Freeman, Soumya Panigrahi, Sophia Zweig, Robert Balderas, Leonid Margolis, Daniel C. Douek, Donald. D. Anthony, Pushpa Pandiyan, Mark Cameron, Scott F. Sieg, Leonard H. Calabrese, Benigno Rodriguez, Michael M. Lederman
In the era of combined antiretroviral therapy (cART), lung diseases such as chronic bronchitis (CB) and COPD are common among persons living with HIV (PLWH), particularly smokers. Although smoking is highly prevalent among PLWH, HIV may be an independent risk factor for lung diseases; however, the role of HIV and cigarette smoke (CS) and their potential interaction in the development of chronic lung diseases among PLWH has not been delineated. To investigate this interaction, cynomolgus macaques were exposed to CS and/or simian-adapted human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) and treated with cART. The development of CB and the lung functions were evaluated following CS±SHIV treatment. The results showed that in the lung, SHIV was a strong independent risk factor for goblet cell metaplasia/hyperplasia and mucus formation, MUC5AC synthesis, loss of tight junction proteins, and increased expression of Th2 cytokines/transcription factors. In addition, SHIV and CS synergistically reduced the lung function and increased the extrathoracic tracheal ring thickness. Interestingly, SHIV-infection generated significant numbers of HIV-gp120+ epithelial cells (HGECs) in small airways and alveoli and their numbers doubled in CS+SHIV-infected lungs. We conclude that even with cART, SHIV independently induces CB and pro-COPD changes in the lung and the effects are exacerbated by CS.
Hitendra S. Chand, Rodrigo Vazquez-Guillamet, Christopher M. Royer, Karin Rudolph, Neerad C. Mishra, Shashi P. Singh, Shah S. Hussain, Edward G. Barrett, Shannon Callen, Siddappa N. Byrareddy, Maria Cristina Vazquez Guillamet, Jawad Abukhalaf, Aryaz Sheybani, Vernat Exil, Veena Raizada, Hemant Agarwal, Madhavan Nair, Francois Villinger, Shilpa Buch, Mohan Sopori