IFI44 suppresses HIV-1 LTR promoter activity and facilitates its latency.

PMID 25776761


IFI44 is an interferon-alfa inducible protein, and is associated with infection of several viruses. However, IFI44 elicits minimal antiviral effects on these viruses, and its exact role is still unknown. Here we show that IFI44 inhibits HIV-1 replication in vitro. Through depletion of endogenous IFI44 or overexpression of IFI44 we confirm that IFI44 suppresses HIV-1 LTR promoter activity and affects viral transcription. Furthermore, we find that IFI44 localizes to nuclei and binds to the HIV-1 LTR promoter in HIV-1 infected cells. Removing suppression of HIV-1 transcription benefits reactivation of HIV-1 proviruses for purging latent reservoirs. We demonstrate that depletion of endogenous IFI44 in J-LAT cells induces reactivation of latent HIV-1. Based on these results, we propose a model in which IFI44 is recruited to the HIV-1 LTR, which may suppress viral transcription and prevent reactivation of latent HIV-1. Our study suggests a previously unrecognized anti-HIV phenomenon for interferon-stimulated proteins.