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Virology. 2005 Jun 5;336(2):299-307.

The RNA helicase DDX1 is involved in restricted HIV-1 Rev function in human astrocytes.

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  • 1The Dorrance H. Hamilton Laboratories, Center for Human Virology and Biodefense, Division of Infectious Diseases and Environmental Medicine, Department of Medicine, Jefferson Medical College, Thomas Jefferson University, Philadelphia, PA 19107, USA.

Abstract

Productive infection by human immunodeficiency virus type I (HIV-1) in the central nervous system (CNS) involves mainly macrophages and microglial cells. A frequency of less than 10% of human astrocytes is estimated to be infectable with HIV-1. Nonetheless, this relatively low percentage of infected astrocytes, but associated with a large total number of astrocytic cells in the CNS, makes human astrocytes a critical part in the analyses of potential HIV-1 reservoirs in vivo. Investigations in astrocytic cell lines and primary human fetal astrocytes revealed that limited HIV-1 replication in these cells resulted from low-level viral entry, transcription, viral protein processing, and virion maturation. Of note, a low ratio of unspliced versus spliced HIV-1-specific RNA was also investigated, as Rev appeared to act aberrantly in astrocytes, via loss of nuclear and/or nucleolar localization and diminished Rev-mediated function. Host cellular machinery enabling Rev function has become critical for elucidation of diminished Rev activity, especially for those factors leading to RNA metabolism. We have recently identified a DEAD-box protein, DDX1, as a Rev cellular co-factor and now have explored its potential importance in astrocytes. Cells were infected with HIV-1 pseudotyped with envelope glycoproteins of amphotropic murine leukemia viruses (MLV). Semi-quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reactions (RT-PCR) for unspliced, singly-spliced, and multiply-spliced RNA clearly showed a lower ratio of unspliced/singly-spliced over multiply-spliced HIV-1-specific RNA in human astrocytes as compared to Rev-permissive, non-glial control cells. As well, the cellular localization of Rev in astrocytes was cytoplasmically dominant as compared to that of Rev-permissive, non-glial controls. This endogenous level of DDX1 expression in astrocytes was demonstrated directly to lead to a shift of Rev sub-cellular distribution dominance from nuclear and/or nucleolar to cytoplasmic, as input of exogenous DDX1 significantly altered both Rev sub-cellular localization from cytoplasmic to nuclear predominance and concomitantly increased HIV-1 viral production in these human astrocytes. We conclude that altered DDX1 expression in human astrocytes is, at least in part, responsible for the unfavorable cellular microenvironment for Rev function in these CNS-based cells. Thus, these data suggest a molecular mechanism(s) for restricted replication in astrocytes as a potential low-level site of residual HIV-1 in vivo.

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