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TRAF6 and TAK1 Contribute to SAMHD1-Mediated Negative Regulation of NF-κB Signaling.

Journal of virology (2020-11-13)
Constanza E Espada, Corine St Gelais, Serena Bonifati, Victoria V Maksimova, Michael P Cahill, Sun Hee Kim, Li Wu

Sterile alpha motif and HD domain-containing protein 1 (SAMHD1) restricts HIV-1 replication by limiting the intracellular deoxynucleoside triphosphate (dNTP) pool. SAMHD1 also suppresses the activation of NF-κB in response to viral infections and inflammatory stimuli. However, the mechanisms by which SAMHD1 negatively regulates this pathway remain unclear. Here, we show that SAMHD1-mediated suppression of NF-κB activation is modulated by two key mediators of NF-κB signaling, tumor necrosis factor (TNF) receptor-associated factor 6 (TRAF6) and transforming growth factor β-activated kinase 1 (TAK1). We compared NF-κB activation stimulated by interleukin (IL)-1β in monocytic THP-1 control and SAMHD1 knockout (KO) cells with and without partial TRAF6 knockdown (KD), or in cells treated with TAK1 inhibitors. Relative to control cells, IL-1β-treated SAMHD1 KO cells showed increased phosphorylation of the inhibitor of NF-κB (IκBα), an indication of pathway activation, and elevated levels of TNF-α mRNA. Moreover, SAMHD1 KO combined with TRAF6 KD or pharmacological TAK1 inhibition reduced IκBα phosphorylation and TNF-α mRNA to the level of control cells. SAMHD1 KO cells infected with single-cycle HIV-1 showed elevated infection and TNF-α mRNA levels compared to control cells, and the effects were significantly reduced by TRAF6 KD or TAK1 inhibition. We further demonstrated that overexpressed SAMHD1 inhibited TRAF6-stimulated NF-κB reporter activity in HEK293T cells in a dose-dependent manner. SAMHD1 contains a nuclear localization signal (NLS), but an NLS-defective SAMHD1 exhibited a suppressive effect similar to the wild-type protein. Our data suggest that the TRAF6-TAK1 axis contributes to SAMHD1-mediated suppression of NF-κB activation and HIV-1 infection.IMPORTANCE Cells respond to pathogen infection by activating a complex innate immune signaling pathway, which culminates in the activation of transcription factors and secretion of a family of functionally and genetically related cytokines. However, excessive immune activation may cause tissue damage and detrimental effects on the host. Therefore, in order to maintain host homeostasis, the innate immune response is tightly regulated during viral infection. We have reported SAMHD1 as a novel negative regulator of the innate immune response. Here, we provide new insights into SAMHD1-mediated negative regulation of the NF-κB pathway at the TRAF6-TAK1 checkpoint. We show that SAMHD1 inhibits TAK1 activation and TRAF6 signaling in response to proinflammatory stimuli. Interestingly, TRAF6 knockdown in SAMHD1-deficient cells significantly inhibited HIV-1 infection and activation of NF-κB induced by virus infection. Our research reveals a new negative regulatory mechanism by which SAMHD1 participates in the maintenance of cellular homeostasis during HIV-1 infection and inflammation.

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