The Journal of general virology

FoxO4 negatively controls Tat-mediated HIV-1 transcription through the post-transcriptional suppression of Tat encoding mRNA.

PMID 28699853


The connection between the repression of human immunodeficiency virus type 1(HIV-1) transcription and the resting CD4+ T cell state suggests that the host transcription factors involved in the active maintenance of lymphocyte quiescence are likely to repress the viral transactivator, Tat, thereby restricting HIV-1 transcription. In this study, we analysed the interplay between Tat and the forkhead box transcription factors, FoxO1 and FoxO4. We show that FoxO1 and FoxO4 antagonize Tat-mediated transactivation of HIV-1 promoter through the repression of Tat protein expression. No effect was observed on the expression of two HIV-1 accessory proteins, Vif and Vpr. Unexpectedly, we found that FoxO1 and FoxO4 expression causes a strong dose-dependent post-transcriptional suppression of Tat mRNA, indicating that FoxO should effectively inhibit HIV-1 replication by destabilizing Tat mRNA and suppressing Tat-mediated HIV-1 transcription. In accordance with this, we observed that the Tat mRNA half-life is reduced by FoxO4 expression. The physiological relevance of our findings was validated using the J-Lat 10.6 model of latently infected cells. We demonstrated that the overexpression of a constitutively active FoxO4-TM mutant antagonized HIV-1 transcription reactivation in response to T cell activators, such as TNF-α or PMA. Altogether, our findings demonstrate that FoxO factors can control HIV-1 transcription and provide new insights into their potential role during the establishment of HIV-1 latency.