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J Biol Chem. 2011 Jul 1;286(26):22943-54. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M110.201194. Epub 2011 May 9.

Cyclin K inhibits HIV-1 gene expression and replication by interfering with cyclin-dependent kinase 9 (CDK9)-cyclin T1 interaction in Nef-dependent manner.

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  • 1National Centre for Cell Science, Ganeshkhind, Pune 411007, India.


Human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) exploits a number of host cellular factors for successful survival and propagation. The viral protein Nef plays an important role in HIV-1 pathogenesis by interacting with various cellular proteins. In the present work, we identified Cyclin K (CycK) as a novel Nef-interacting protein, and for the first time, we showed that CycK inhibits HIV-1 gene expression and replication in a Nef-dependent manner. The positive elongation factor b complex comprising cyclin-dependent kinase 9 (CDK9) and Cyclin T1 is a critical cellular complex required for viral gene expression and replication. Enhanced expression of CycK in the presence of Nef induced CycK-CDK9 binding, which prevented CDK9-Cyclin T1 complex formation and nuclear translocation of CDK9, resulting in inhibition of HIV-1 long terminal repeat-driven gene expression. Furthermore, this effect of CycK was not observed with Nef-deleted virus, indicating the importance of Nef in this phenomenon. Finally, silencing of CycK in HIV-1-infected cells resulted in increased translocation of CDK9 into the nucleus, leading to increased viral gene expression and replication. These data also suggest that endogenous CycK might act as an inhibitory factor for HIV-1 gene expression and replication in T-cells. Thus, our results clearly demonstrate that CycK utilizes HIV-1 Nef protein to displace CycT1 from the positive elongation factor b complex, resulting in inhibition of HIV-1 gene expression and replication.

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