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J Biol Chem. 2004 Sep 17;279(38):39520-31. Epub 2004 Jul 16.

Hyper-responsiveness to stimulation of human immunodeficiency virus-infected CD4+ T cells requires Nef and Tat virus gene products and results from higher NFAT, NF-kappaB, and AP-1 induction.

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  • 1Baxter Laboratory for Genetic Pharmacology, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, California 94305-5175, USA.

Erratum in

  • J Biol Chem. 2005 Mar 11;280(10):9752.


A chronic state of immune hyperactivation is a feature of human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) infection. Studies on the molecular mechanisms by which HIV-1 can modulate the activation state of T cells indicate that both Nef and Tat can alter T cell activation. However, the vast majority of data has been obtained from experiments performed with vectors encoding a single virus protein. We demonstrate that infection of human CD4(+) T lymphocytes with fully infectious HIV-1 leads to a hyper-responsiveness of the interleukin-2 promoter. Hypersensitivity in HIV-1-infected T cells was observed upon stimulation with various agents that are engaging different signal transduction pathways. Experiments performed with recombinant heat stable antigen-encoding HIV-1 indicated that the virus-infected cells are the cells with an enhanced response. Both Nef and Tat are involved in this virus-mediated enhancing effect on interleukin-2 promoter activity. Interestingly, whereas Nef seems to be acting mainly through hyperactivation of nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT), Tat acts in an NFAT-independent manner. Mobility shift experiments demonstrated that the HIV-1-associated priming of human T cells for stimulation results in a greater induction of transcription factors recognized as essential players in T cell activation, i.e. NFAT, NF-kappaB, and AP-1. A hyper-responsive state was also established upon HIV-1 infection of a more natural cellular reservoir, i.e. primary CD4(+) T lymphocytes. Considering that the HIV-1 life cycle is tightly regulated by the T cell signaling machinery, the priming for activation of a major viral reservoir represents a means by which this retrovirus can create an ideal cellular microenvironment for its propagation and maintenance.

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