(1/362) A novel Vpr peptide interactor fused to integrase (IN) restores integration activity to IN-defective HIV-1 virions.

A novel approach to complement human immunodeficiency virus type I (HIV-1) integrase (IN)-defective virions has been identified. The approach involves fusion of a 23-amino-acid stretch to the N-terminus of wild-type IN and coexpression of this chimera with the IN-defective proviral template in virus producing cells. The 23-amino-acid peptide represents a Vpr "interactor," referred to as the the WxxF or WF domain, which apparently leads to docking of the domain along with the fusion partner onto HIV-1 Vpr, thus permitting virion incorporation of the chimeric protein when expressed, in trans, with other viral products. Transfection of the WF-IN expression plasmid along with HIV-1 viral clones that produce Vpr, but bear an IN mutation, results in the release of a proportion of viral particles that are competent for integration. The extent of complementation was assessed using the MAGI cell assay, where integration of viral DNA results in the eventual appearance of easily visible multinucleated blue syncytia. The efficiency of dWF-IN (double copy of WF domain) complementation is not improved markedly by incorporation of a HIV-1 protease cleavage site (PR) between the dWF domain and IN (dWF-PR-IN), unlike that observed with Vpr fusions to IN. Furthermore, the ability of Vpr-PR-IN and dWF-PR-IN to complement IN-defective proviral clones, both of which bear an intervening protease cleavage site, appear comparable. Western blotting analyses using virions isolated through sucrose cushions demonstrate clearly the incorporation of the dWF-IN fusion protein into Vpr containing HIV-1 particles but not in Vpr-deficient virions. Additional Western blotting analyses indicate that all Vpr-IN and dWF-IN chimeras, with or without a PR site, are packaged into virions. The efficiency of virion incorporation of Vpr-IN and dWF-IN chimeras appears approximately comparable by Western blotting analysis. The ability of dWF-IN to complement IN-defective proviruses with efficiency similar to that of Vpr-PR-IN and dWF-PR-IN indicates that dWF-IN retains the full complement of functions necessary for integration of proviral DNA and is likely due to the benign nature of this small domain at the amino-terminus of IN.  (+info)

(2/362) Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 Vpr alters bone marrow cell function.

Vpr, a 96 amino acid protein, encoded by the human immunodeficiency virus type I (HIV-1), is important for efficient infection of mononuclear phagocytic cells. These cells are abundant in whole bone marrow, which can easily be cultured in vitro to support hematopoiesis. Our experiments indicate that Vpr plays a role in the potent activation of murine and human mononuclear phagocytic cells within a hematopoietic microenvironment. In murine cultures, avid erythrophagocytosis is triggered by transduction of marrow cells with supernatant derived from PA317 cells transfected with a murine retroviral delivery vector bearing a Vpr expression cassette. Supernatants derived from cells transfected with the same vector carrying sequences for the expression of other relevant viral and nonviral proteins do not induce erythrophagocytosis to any marked degree. The effect on human marrow cells is similar, where treatment promotes adhesion of mononuclear phagocytic cells to culture plates in association with other nucleated and nonnucleated cells that undergo subsequent engulfment. The differential effects of Vpr point and deletion mutants in both marrow culture systems fortify the view that the effect is specific to HIV-1 Vpr. Addition of low molar quantities of purified Vpr to marrow cultures is also capable of promoting cell adhesion and phagocytosis, suggesting that extracellular Vpr is the effector of the phenomenon. Accelerated phagocytosis is a hallmark of promonocyte, monocyte, and macrophage activation and its occurrence within a hematopoietic microenvironment may account for critical in vivo pathogenic features of HIV-1 infection. First, activation of mononuclear phagocytes may promote productive viral infection; and second, premature phagocytosis could provide, at least in part, a molecular explanation for the induction of the idiopathic cytopenias that are typical of individuals infected with HIV-1.  (+info)

(3/362) Mutational analysis of Vpr-induced G2 arrest, nuclear localization, and cell death in fission yeast.

Cell cycle G2 arrest, nuclear localization, and cell death induced by human immunodeficiency virus type 1 Vpr were examined in fission yeast by using a panel of Vpr mutations that have been studied previously in human cells. The effects of the mutations on Vpr functions were highly similar between fission yeast and human cells. Consistent with mammalian cell studies, induction of cell cycle G2 arrest by Vpr was found to be independent of nuclear localization. In addition, G2 arrest was also shown to be independent of cell killing, which only occurred when the mutant Vpr localized to the nucleus. The C-terminal end of Vpr is crucial for G2 arrest, the N-terminal alpha-helix is important for nuclear localization, and a large part of the Vpr protein is responsible for cell killing. It is evident that the overall structure of Vpr is essential for these cellular effects, as N- and C-terminal deletions affected all three cellular functions. Furthermore, two single point mutations (H33R and H71R), both of which reside at the end of each alpha-helix, disrupted all three Vpr functions, indicating that these two mutations may have strong effects on the overall Vpr structure. The similarity of the mutant effects on Vpr function in fission yeast and human cells suggests that fission yeast can be used as a model system to evaluate these Vpr functions in naturally occurring viral isolates.  (+info)

(4/362) Incorporation of Vpr into human immunodeficiency virus type 1 requires a direct interaction with the p6 domain of the p55 gag precursor.

The 96-amino acid Vpr protein is the major virion-associated accessory protein of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). As Vpr is not part of the p55 Gag polyprotein precursor (Pr55(gag)), its incorporation requires an anchor to associate with the assembling viral particles. Although the molecular mechanism is presently unclear, the C-terminal region of the Pr55(gag) corresponding to the p6 domain appears to constitute such an anchor essential for the incorporation of the Vpr protein. In order to clarify the mechanism by which the Vpr accessory protein is trans-incorporated into progeny virion particles, we tested whether HIV-1 Vpr interacted with the Pr55(gag) using the yeast two-hybrid system and the maltose-binding protein pull-down assay. The present study provides genetic and biochemical evidence indicating that the Pr55(gag) can physically interact with the Vpr protein. Furthermore, point mutations affecting the integrity of the conserved L-X-S-L-F-G motif of p6(gag) completely abolish the interaction between Vpr and the Pr55(gag) and, as a consequence, prevent Vpr virion incorporation. In contrast to other studies, mutations affecting the integrity of the NCp7 zinc fingers impaired neither Vpr virion incorporation nor the binding between Vpr and the Pr55(gag). Conversely, amino acid substitutions in Vpr demonstrate that an intact N-terminal alpha-helical structure is essential for the Vpr-Pr55(gag) interaction. Vpr and the Pr55(gag) demonstrate a strong interaction in vitro as salt concentrations as high as 900 mM could not disrupt the interaction. Finally, the interaction is efficiently competed using anti-Vpr sera. Together, these results strongly suggest that Vpr trans-incorporation into HIV-1 particles requires a direct interaction between its N-terminal region and the C-terminal region of p6(gag). The development of Pr55(gag)-Vpr interaction assays may allow the screening of molecules that can prevent the incorporation of the Vpr accessory protein into HIV-1 virions, and thus inhibit its early functions.  (+info)

(5/362) Micronuclei formation and aneuploidy induced by Vpr, an accessory gene of human immunodeficiency virus type 1.

Vpr, an accessory gene of HIV-1, induces cell cycle abnormality with accumulation at G2/M phase and increased ploidy. Since abnormality of mitotic checkpoint control provides a molecular basis of genomic instability, we studied the effects of Vpr on genetic integrity using a stable clone, named MIT-23, in which Vpr expression is controlled by the tetracycline-responsive promoter. Treatment of MIT-23 cells with doxycycline (DOX) induced Vpr expression with a giant multinuclear cell formation. Increased micronuclei (MIN) formation was also detected in these cells. Abolishment of Vpr expression by DOX removal induced numerous asynchronous cytokinesis in the multinuclear cells with leaving MIN in cytoplasm, suggesting that the transient Vpr expression could cause genetic unbalance. Consistent with this expectation, MIT-23 cells, originally pseudodiploid cells, became aneuploid after repeated expression of Vpr. Experiments using deletion mutants of Vpr revealed that the domain inducing MIN formation as well as multinucleation was located in the carboxy-terminal region of Vpr protein. These results suggest that Vpr induces genomic instability, implicating the possible role in the development of AIDS-related malignancies.  (+info)

(6/362) Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Vpr functions as an immediate-early protein during HIV-1 infection.

Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Vpr is a virion-associated protein which facilitates HIV-1 infection of nondividing cells by contributing to the nuclear transport of the preintegration complex (PIC). Vpr was also shown to induce a cell cycle G2 arrest in infected proliferating cells that optimizes HIV-1 long terminal repeat (LTR)-directed gene expression and viral production. However, it is unclear whether this activity is mediated primarily early by virion-associated Vpr or alternatively late during infection when Vpr is de novo expressed. We report here that in the absence of de novo expression, virion-associated Vpr induces a transient G2 arrest that can subsequently lead to cell killing by apoptosis. Interestingly, the induction of both cell cycle G2 arrest and apoptosis by virion-associated Vpr requires viral entry but not viral replication, since reverse transcriptase and protease inhibitor treatments do not prevent these Vpr effects. These results raise the possibility that in vivo both infectious and noninfectious viruses contribute to the dysfunction and killing of CD4(+) cells. In addition, our results reveal that virion-associated Vpr stimulates viral replication in proliferating cells after establishing a cell cycle G2 arrest by increasing LTR-directed gene expression. Importantly, this Vpr-mediated LTR activation appears to be a requirement for subsequent optimal Tat transactivation. Taken together, these results strongly suggest that in addition to participating in the HIV PIC nuclear transport in nondividing cells, virion-associated Vpr activates HIV-1 LTR-directed gene expression by manipulating the host cell cycle. From this, we conclude that Vpr functions as an immediate-early protein during HIV-1 infection.  (+info)

(7/362) The amino-terminal region of Vpr from human immunodeficiency virus type 1 forms ion channels and kills neurons.

We have previously reported that the accessory protein Vpr from human immunodeficiency virus type 1 forms cation-selective ion channels in planar lipid bilayers and is able to depolarize intact cultured neurons by causing an inward sodium current, resulting in cell death. In this study, we used site-directed mutagenesis and synthetic peptides to identify the structural regions responsible for the above functions. Mutations in the N-terminal region of Vpr were found to affect channel activity, whereas this activity was not affected by mutations in the hydrophobic region of Vpr (amino acids 53 to 71). Analysis of mutants containing changes in the basic C terminus confirmed previous results that this region, although not necessary for ion channel function, was responsible for the observed rectification of wild-type Vpr currents. A peptide comprising the first 40 N-terminal amino acids of Vpr (N40) was found to be sufficient to form ion channels similar to those caused by wild-type Vpr in planar lipid bilayers. Furthermore, N40 was able to cause depolarization of the plasmalemma and cell death in cultured hippocampal neurons with a time course similar to that seen with wild-type Vpr, supporting the idea that this region is responsible for Vpr ion channel function and cytotoxic effects. Since Vpr is found in the serum and cerebrospinal fluids of AIDS patients, these results may have significance for AIDS pathology.  (+info)

(8/362) Maximal stimulation of meiotic recombination by a yeast transcription factor requires the transcription activation domain and a DNA-binding domain.

The DNA sequences located upstream of the yeast HIS4 represent a very strong meiotic recombination hotspot. Although the activity of this hotspot requires the transcription activator Rap1p, the level of HIS4 transcription is not directly related to the level of recombination. We find that the recombination-stimulating activity of Rap1p requires the transcription activation domain of the protein. We show that a hybrid protein with the Gal4p DNA-binding domain and the Rap1p activation domain can stimulate recombination in a strain in which Gal4p-binding sites are inserted upstream of HIS4. In addition, we find recombination hotspot activity associated with the Gal4p DNA-binding sites that is independent of known transcription factors. We suggest that yeast cells have two types of recombination hotspots, alpha (transcription factor dependent) and beta (transcription factor independent).  (+info)