Transcription of preintegrated HIV-1 cDNA modulates cell surface expression of major histocompatibility complex class I via Nef

Richard D. Sloan, Björn D. Kuhl, Daniel A. Donahue, André Roland, Tamara Bar-Magen, Mark A. Wainberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Although transcription from unintegrated human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) DNA can occur inside infected cells, yielding all classes of viral mRNA transcripts, the translation of viral proteins is very limited. One of the proteins made is Nef, but it is unclear whether Nef produced in this way is able to play a role in immune evasion as occurs with integrated virus. We therefore asked whether transcription from preintegrated HIV-1 cDNAs could result in Nef-mediated modulation of cell surface major histocompatibility complex class I (MHC-I) expression. We infected a Rev-CEM green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter cell line with virus and blocked integration though use of either an inactive integrase or the integrase inhibitor raltegravir. Infected cells were assayed by flow cytometry for cell surface expression of the HLA-A, HLA-B, and HLA-C allotypes (HLA-ABC), HLA-A31, and HLA-E. Viral RNA and DNA products were assayed via quantitative PCR (qPCR). The prevention of integration had no effect, relative to productively infected cells, on levels of expression of multiply spliced viral mRNA transcripts and Nef protein. Downregulation of HLA-ABC and HLA-A31 also occurred at levels similar to those seen in cells in which integration had occurred. Parallel experiments assaying cell surface HLA-ABC expression in infected activated primary CD4+ T cells produced a similar pattern of results. Hence, the capacity of HIV-1 to modulate MHC-I is not linked to its ability to integrate. Thus, Nef-mediated evasion of host immune responsiveness might be attributable, in part at least, to transcription from unintegrated viral DNA.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2828-2836
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2011


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