An intronic G run within HIV-1 intron 2 is critical for splicing regulation of vif mRNA.
ABSTRACT: Within target T lymphocytes, human immunodeficiency virus type I (HIV-1) encounters the retroviral restriction factor APOBEC3G (apolipoprotein B mRNA-editing enzyme, catalytic polypeptide-like 3G; A3G), which is counteracted by the HIV-1 accessory protein Vif. Vif is encoded by intron-containing viral RNAs that are generated by splicing at 3' splice site (3'ss) A1 but lack splicing at 5'ss D2, which results in the retention of a large downstream intron. Hence, the extents of activation of 3'ss A1 and repression of D2, respectively, determine the levels of vif mRNA and thus the ability to evade A3G-mediated antiviral effects. The use of 3'ss A1 can be enhanced or repressed by splicing regulatory elements that control the recognition of downstream 5'ss D2. Here we show that an intronic G run (G(I2)-1) represses the use of a second 5'ss, termed D2b, that is embedded within intron 2 and, as determined by RNA deep-sequencing analysis, is normally inefficiently used. Mutations of G(I2)-1 and activation of D2b led to the generation of transcripts coding for Gp41 and Rev protein isoforms but primarily led to considerable upregulation of vif mRNA expression. We further demonstrate, however, that higher levels of Vif protein are actually detrimental to viral replication in A3G-expressing T cell lines but not in A3G-deficient cells. These observations suggest that an appropriate ratio of Vif-to-A3G protein levels is required for optimal virus replication and that part of Vif level regulation is effected by the novel G run identified here.
Project description:The HIV-1 accessory protein Vif is essential for viral replication by counteracting the host restriction factor APOBEC3G (A3G), and balanced levels of both proteins are required for efficient viral replication. Noncoding exons 2/2b contain the Vif start codon between their alternatively used splice donors 2 and 2b (D2 and D2b). For vif mRNA, intron 1 must be removed while intron 2 must be retained. Thus, splice acceptor 1 (A1) must be activated by U1 snRNP binding to either D2 or D2b, while splicing at D2 or D2b must be prevented. Here, we unravel the complex interactions between previously known and novel components of the splicing regulatory network regulating HIV-1 exon 2/2b inclusion in viral mRNAs. In particular, using RNA pulldown experiments and mass spectrometry analysis, we found members of the heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoparticle (hnRNP) A/B family binding to a novel splicing regulatory element (SRE), the exonic splicing silencer ESS2b, and the splicing regulatory proteins Tra2/SRSF10 binding to the nearby exonic splicing enhancer ESE2b. Using a minigene reporter, we performed bioinformatics HEXplorer-guided mutational analysis to narrow down SRE motifs affecting splice site selection between D2 and D2b. Eventually, the impacts of these SREs on the viral splicing pattern and protein expression were exhaustively analyzed in viral particle production and replication experiments. Masking of these protein binding sites by use of locked nucleic acids (LNAs) impaired Vif expression and viral replication.IMPORTANCE Based on our results, we propose a model in which a dense network of SREs regulates vif mRNA and protein expression, crucial to maintain viral replication within host cells with varying A3G levels and at different stages of infection. This regulation is maintained by several serine/arginine-rich splicing factors (SRSF) and hnRNPs binding to those elements. Targeting this cluster of SREs with LNAs may lead to the development of novel effective therapeutic strategies.
Project description:Approximately half of all human genes undergo alternative mRNA splicing. This process often yields homologous gene products exhibiting diverse functions. Alternative splicing of APOBEC3G (A3G) and APOBEC3F (A3F), the major host resistance factors targeted by the HIV-1 protein Vif, has not been explored. We investigated the effects of alternative splicing on A3G/A3F gene expression and antiviral activity. Three alternatively spliced A3G mRNAs and two alternatively spliced A3F mRNAs were detected in peripheral blood mononuclear cells in each of 10 uninfected, healthy donors. Expression of these splice variants was altered in different cell subsets and in response to cellular stimulation. Alternatively spliced A3G variants were insensitive to degradation by Vif but displayed no antiviral activity against HIV-1. Conversely, alternative splicing of A3F produced a 37-kDa variant lacking exon 2 (A3FΔ2) that was prominently expressed in macrophages and monocytes and was resistant to Vif-mediated degradation. Alternative splicing also produced a 24-kDa variant of A3F lacking exons 2-4 (A3FΔ2-4) that was highly sensitive to Vif. Both A3FΔ2 and A3FΔ2-4 displayed reduced cytidine deaminase activity and moderate antiviral activity. These alternatively spliced A3F gene products, particularly A3FΔ2, were incorporated into HIV virions, albeit at levels less than wild-type A3F. Thus, alternative splicing of A3F mRNA generates truncated antiviral proteins that differ sharply in their sensitivity to Vif.
Project description:The HIV-1 accessory proteins, Viral Infectivity Factor (Vif) and the pleiotropic Viral Protein R (Vpr) are important for efficient virus replication. While in non-permissive cells an appropriate amount of Vif is critical to counteract APOBEC3G-mediated host restriction, the Vpr-induced G2 arrest sets the stage for highest transcriptional activity of the HIV-1 long terminal repeat.We identified a G run localized deep in the vpr AUG containing intron 3 (GI3-2), which was critical for balanced splicing of both vif and vpr non-coding leader exons. Inactivation of GI3-2 resulted in excessive exon 3 splicing as well as exon-definition mediated vpr mRNA formation. However, in an apparently mutually exclusive manner this was incompatible with recognition of upstream exon 2 and vif mRNA processing. As a consequence, inactivation of GI3-2 led to accumulation of Vpr protein with a concomitant reduction in Vif protein. We further demonstrate that preventing hnRNP binding to intron 3 by GI3-2 mutation diminished levels of vif mRNA. In APOBEC3G-expressing but not in APOBEC3G-deficient T cell lines, mutation of GI3-2 led to a considerable replication defect. Moreover, in HIV-1 isolates carrying an inactivating mutation in GI3-2, we identified an adjacent G-rich sequence (GI3-1), which was able to substitute for the inactivated GI3-2.The functionally conserved intronic G run in HIV-1 intron 3 plays a major role in the apparently mutually exclusive exon selection of vif and vpr leader exons and hence in vif and vpr mRNA formation. The competition between these exons determines the ability to evade APOBEC3G-mediated antiviral effects due to optimal vif expression.
Project description:Full-length human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) RNA serves as the genome or as an mRNA, or this RNA undergoes splicing using four donors and 10 acceptors to create over 50 physiologically relevant transcripts in two size classes (1.8 kb and 4 kb). We developed an assay using Primer ID-tagged deep sequencing to quantify HIV-1 splicing. Using the lab strain NL4-3, we found that A5 (env/nef) is the most commonly used acceptor (about 50%) and A3 (tat) the least used (about 3%). Two small exons are made when a splice to acceptor A1 or A2 is followed by activation of donor D2 or D3, and the high-level use of D2 and D3 dramatically reduces the amount of vif and vpr transcripts. We observed distinct patterns of temperature sensitivity of splicing to acceptors A1 and A2. In addition, disruption of a conserved structure proximal to A1 caused a 10-fold reduction in all transcripts that utilized A1. Analysis of a panel of subtype B transmitted/founder viruses showed that splicing patterns are conserved, but with surprising variability of usage. A subtype C isolate was similar, while a simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) isolate showed significant differences. We also observed transsplicing from a downstream donor on one transcript to an upstream acceptor on a different transcript, which we detected in 0.3% of 1.8-kb RNA reads. There were several examples of splicing suppression when the env intron was retained in the 4-kb size class. These results demonstrate the utility of this assay and identify new examples of HIV-1 splicing regulation. IMPORTANCE During HIV-1 replication, over 50 conserved spliced RNA variants are generated. The splicing assay described here uses new developments in deep-sequencing technology combined with Primer ID-tagged cDNA primers to efficiently quantify HIV-1 splicing at a depth that allows even low-frequency splice variants to be monitored. We have used this assay to examine several features of HIV-1 splicing and to identify new examples of different mechanisms of regulation of these splicing patterns. This splicing assay can be used to explore in detail how HIV-1 splicing is regulated and, with moderate throughput, could be used to screen for structural elements, small molecules, and host factors that alter these relatively conserved splicing patterns.
Project description:Human apolipoprotein-B mRNA-editing catalytic polypeptide-like 3G (A3G) is a cytidine deaminase that restricts retroviruses, endogenous retro-elements and DNA viruses. A3G plays a key role in the anti-HIV-1 innate cellular immunity. The HIV-1 Vif protein counteracts A3G mainly by leading A3G towards the proteosomal machinery and by direct inhibition of its enzymatic activity. Both activities involve direct interaction between Vif and A3G. Disrupting the interaction between A3G and Vif may rescue A3G antiviral activity and inhibit HIV-1 propagation. Here, mapping the interaction sites between A3G and Vif by peptide array screening revealed distinct regions in Vif important for A3G binding, including the N-terminal domain (NTD), C-terminal domain (CTD) and residues 83-99. The Vif-binding sites in A3G included 12 different peptides that showed strong binding to either full-length Vif, Vif CTD or both. Sequence similarity was found between Vif-binding peptides from the A3G CTD and NTD. A3G peptides were synthesized and tested for their ability to counteract Vif action. A3G 211-225 inhibited HIV-1 replication in cell culture and impaired Vif dependent A3G degradation. In vivo co-localization of full-length Vif with A3G 211-225 was demonstrated by use of FRET. This peptide has the potential to serve as an anti-HIV-1 lead compound. Our results suggest a complex interaction between Vif and A3G that is mediated by discontinuous binding regions with different affinities.
Project description:The human cytidine deaminase APOBEC3G (A3G) potently restricts HIV-1 but the virus, in turn, expresses a Vif protein which degrades A3G. A natural A3G-H186R variant, common in African populations, has been associated with a more rapid AIDS disease progression, but the underlying mechanism remains unknown. We hypothesized that differences in HIV-1 Vif activity towards A3G wild type and A3G-H186R contribute to the distinct clinical AIDS manifestation.Vif variants were cloned from plasma samples of 26 South African HIV-1 subtype C infected patients, which either express wild type A3G or A3G-H186R. The Vif alleles were assessed for their ability to counteract A3G variants using western blot and single-cycle infectivity assays.We obtained a total of 392 Vif sequences which displayed an amino acid sequence difference of 6.2-19.2% between patients. The intrapatient Vif diversities from patient groups A3G, A3G and A3G were similar. Vif variants obtained from patients expressing A3G and A3G were capable of counteracting both A3G variants with similar efficiency. However, the antiviral activity of A3G-H186R was significantly reduced in both the presence and absence of Vif, indicating that the A3G-H186R variant intrinsically exerts less antiviral activity.A3G wild type and A3G-H186R are equally susceptible to counteraction by Vif, regardless of whether the Vif variant was obtained from A3G and A3G patients. However, the A3G-H186R variant intrinsically displayed lower antiviral activity, which could explain the higher plasma viral loads and accelerated disease progression reported for patients expressing A3G.
Project description:APOBEC3G (A3G) is a host cytidine deaminase that inhibits retroviruses. HIV and related primate lentiviruses encode Vif, which counteracts A3G by inducing its degradation. This Vif-mediated A3G inhibition is species specific, suggesting that the A3G-Vif interaction has evolved as primate lentiviruses have adapted to their hosts. We examined the evolutionary dynamics of the A3G-Vif interaction within four African green monkey (AGM) subspecies, which are each naturally infected with a distinct simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). We identified single amino acid changes within A3G in two AGM subspecies that render it resistant to Vif proteins, except for Vif from the viruses that naturally infect these subspecies. Moreover, experimental infection of AGMs shows that Vif can rapidly adapt to these arising Vif-resistant A3G genotypes. These data suggest that despite being generally nonpathogenic in its natural host, SIV infection selects for Vif-resistant forms of A3G in AGM populations, driving Vif counterevolution and functional divergence.
Project description:APOBEC3G (A3G) is a cytidine deaminase that restricts human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and other lentiviruses. Most of these viruses encode a Vif protein that directly binds A3G and leads to its proteasomal degradation. Both Vif proteins of HIV-1 and African green monkey simian immunodeficiency virus (SIVagm) bind residue 128 of A3G. However, this position does not control the A3G degradation by Vif variants derived from HIV-2 and SIVmac, which both originated from SIV of sooty mangabey monkeys (SIVsmm), suggesting that the A3G binding site for Vif proteins of the SIVsmm/HIV-2 lineage differs from that of HIV-1. To map the SIVsmm Vif binding site of A3G, we performed immunoprecipitations of individual A3G domains, Vif/A3G degradation assays and a detailed mutational analysis of human A3G. We show that A3G residue 129, but not the adjacent position 128, confers susceptibility to degradation by SIVsmm Vif. An artificial A3G mutant, the P129D mutant, was resistant to degradation by diverse Vifs from HIV-1, HIV-2, SIVagm, and chimpanzee SIV (SIVcpz), suggesting a conserved lentiviral Vif binding site. Gorilla A3G naturally contains a glutamine (Q) at position 129, which makes its A3G resistant to Vifs from diverse lineages. We speculate that gorilla A3G serves as a barrier against SIVcpz strains. In summary, we show that Vif proteins from distinct lineages bind to the same A3G loop, which includes positions 128 and 129. The multiple adaptations within this loop among diverse primates underscore the importance of counteracting A3G in lentiviral evolution.
Project description:In the absence of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Vif protein, the host antiviral deaminase apolipoprotein B mRNA-editing enzyme-catalytic polypeptide-like 3G (A3G) restricts the production of infectious HIV-1 by deamination of dC residues in the negative single-stranded DNA produced by reverse transcription. The Vif protein averts the lethal threat of deamination by precluding the packaging of A3G into assembling virions by mediating proteasomal degradation of A3G. In spite of this robust Vif activity, residual A3G molecules that escape degradation and incorporate into newly assembled virions are potentially deleterious to the virus. We hypothesized that virion-associated Vif inhibits A3G enzymatic activity and therefore prevents lethal mutagenesis of the newly synthesized viral DNA. Here, we show that (i) Vif-proficient HIV-1 particles released from H9 cells contain A3G with lower specific activity compared with ?vif-virus-associated A3G, (ii) encapsidated HIV-1 Vif inhibits the deamination activity of recombinant A3G, and (iii) purified HIV-1 Vif protein and the Vif-derived peptide Vif25-39 inhibit A3G activity in vitro at nanomolar concentrations in an uncompetitive manner. Our results manifest the potentiality of Vif to control the deamination threat in virions or in the pre-integration complexes following entry to target cells. Hence, virion-associated Vif could serve as a last line of defense, protecting the virus against A3G antiviral activity.
Project description:Human cells express natural antiviral proteins, such as APOBEC3G (A3G), that potently restrict HIV replication. As a counter-defense, HIV encodes the accessory protein Vif, which binds A3G and mediates its proteasomal degradation. Our structural knowledge on how Vif and A3G interact is limited, because a co-structure is not available. We identified specific points of contact between Vif and A3G by using functional assays with full-length A3G, patient-derived Vif variants, and HIV forced evolution. These anchor points were used to model and validate the Vif-A3G interface. The resultant co-structure model shows that the negatively charged ?4-?4 A3G loop, which contains primate-specific variation, is the core Vif binding site and forms extensive interactions with a positively charged pocket in HIV Vif. Our data present a functional map of this viral-host interface and open avenues for targeted approaches to block HIV replication by obstructing the Vif-A3G interaction.