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

PMID 24742347


We have shown that HIV-1 Tat interaction with MAP2K3, MAP2K6, and IRF7 promoters is key to IFN-stimulated genes (ISG) activation in immature dendritic cells and macrophages. 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 ISG, 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. ISG activation depends on Tat interaction with MAP2K3, MAP2K6, and IRF7 promoters and a single exon Tat protein more strongly modulated the luciferase activity mediated by MAP2K3, MAP2K6, and IRF7 promoter sequences located 5' 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. 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.