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Selective cell death of latently HIV-infected CD4+ T cells mediated by autosis inducing nanopeptides.

Cell death & disease (2019-05-31)
Gang Zhang, Brian T Luk, Xiaoli Wei, Grant R Campbell, Ronnie H Fang, Liangfang Zhang, Stephen A Spector

Despite significant advances in the treatment of human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV) infection, antiretroviral therapy only suppresses viral replication but is unable to eliminate infection. Thus, discontinuation of antiretrovirals results in viral reactivation and disease progression. A major reservoir of HIV latent infection resides in resting central memory CD4+ T cells (TCM) that escape clearance by current therapeutic regimens and will require novel strategies for elimination. Here, we evaluated the therapeutic potential of autophagy-inducing peptides, Tat-Beclin 1 and Tat-vFLIP-α2, which can induce a novel Na+/K+-ATPase dependent form of cell death (autosis), to kill latently HIV-infected TCM while preventing virologic rebound. In this study, we encapsulated autophagy inducing peptides into biodegradable lipid-coated hybrid PLGA (poly lactic-co-glycolic acid) nanoparticles for controlled intracellular delivery. A single dose of nanopeptides was found to eliminate latent HIV infection in an in vitro primary model of HIV latency and ex vivo using resting CD4+ T cells obtained from peripheral blood mononuclear cells of HIV-infected patients on antiretroviral with fully suppressed virus for greater than 12 months. Notably, increased LC3B lipidation, SQSTM1/p62 degradation and Na+/K+-ATPase activity characteristic of autosis, were detected in nanopeptide treated latently HIV-infected cells compared to untreated uninfected or infected cells. Nanopeptide-induced cell death could be reversed by knockdown of autophagy proteins, ATG5 and ATG7, and inhibition or knockdown of Na+/K+-ATPase. Importantly, viral rebound was not detected following the induction of the Na+/K+-ATPase dependent form of cell death induced by the Tat-Beclin 1 and Tat-vFLIP-α2 nanopeptides. These findings provide a novel strategy to eradicate HIV latently infected resting memory CD4+ T cells, the major reservoir of HIV latency, through the induction of Na+/K+-ATPase dependent autophagy, while preventing reactivation of virus and new infection of uninfected bystander cells.