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Retrovirology. 2011 Dec 6;8:98. doi: 10.1186/1742-4690-8-98.

Inhibition of HIV-1 infection by TNPO3 depletion is determined by capsid and detectable after viral cDNA enters the nucleus.

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Department of Microbiology and Molecular Medicine, University of Geneva, 1 Rue Michel Servet, CH-1211 Geneva, Switzerland.



HIV-1 infects non-dividing cells. This implies that the virus traverses the nuclear pore before it integrates into chromosomal DNA. Recent studies demonstrated that TNPO3 is required for full infectivity of HIV-1. The fact that TNPO3 is a karyopherin suggests that it acts by directly promoting nuclear entry of HIV-1. Some studies support this hypothesis, while others have failed to do so. Additionally, some studies suggest that TNPO3 acts via HIV-1 Integrase (IN), and others indicate that it acts via capsid (CA).


To shed light on the mechanism by which TNPO3 contributes to HIV-1 infection we engineered a panel of twenty-seven single-cycle HIV-1 vectors each bearing a different CA mutation and characterized them for the ability to transduce cells in which TNPO3 had been knocked down (KD). Fourteen CA mutants were relatively TNPO3-independent, as compared to wild-type (WT) HIV-1. Two mutants were more TNPO3-dependent than the WT, and eleven mutants were actually inhibited by TNPO3. The efficiency of the synthesis of viral cDNA, 2-LTR circles, and proviral DNA was then assessed for WT HIV-1 and three select CA mutants. Controls included rescue of TNPO3 KD with non-targetable coding sequence, RT- and IN- mutant viruses, and pharmacologic inhibitors of RT and IN. TNPO3 KD blocked transduction and establishment of proviral DNA by wild-type HIV-1 with no significant effect on the level of 2-LTR circles. PCR results were confirmed by achieving TNPO3 KD using two different methodologies (lentiviral vector and siRNA oligonucleotide transfection); by challenging three different cell types; by using two different challenge viruses, each necessitating different sets of PCR primers; and by pseudotyping virus with VSV G or using HIV-1 Env.


TNPO3 promotes HIV-1 infectivity at a step in the virus life cycle that is detectable after the preintegration complex arrives in the nucleus and CA is the viral determinant for TNPO3 dependence.

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