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Cell Death Dis. 2019 Sep 12;10(9):674. doi: 10.1038/s41419-019-1920-7.

Histone deacetylase 6 inhibition rescues axonal transport impairments and prevents the neurotoxicity of HIV-1 envelope protein gp120.

Author information

1
Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, Washington, DC, 20057, USA.
2
Department of Neuroscience, Georgetown University Medical Center, 3970 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC, 20057, USA.
3
Department of Neurosciences, University of California, San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA, 92093, USA.
4
Department of Pharmacology and Physiology, Washington, DC, 20057, USA. moccheti@georgetown.edu.
5
Department of Neuroscience, Georgetown University Medical Center, 3970 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC, 20057, USA. moccheti@georgetown.edu.

Abstract

Despite successful antiretroviral drug therapy, a subset of human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV)-positive individuals still display synaptodendritic simplifications and functional cognitive impairments referred to as HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HANDs). The neurological damage observed in HAND subjects can be experimentally reproduced by the HIV envelope protein gp120. However, the complete mechanism of gp120-mediated neurotoxicity is not entirely understood. Gp120 binds to neuronal microtubules and decreases the level of tubulin acetylation, suggesting that it may impair axonal transport. In this study, we utilized molecular and pharmacological approaches, in addition to microscopy, to examine the relationship between gp120-mediated tubulin deacetylation, axonal transport, and neuronal loss. Using primary rat cortical neurons, we show that gp120 decreases acetylation of tubulin and increases histone deacetylase 6 (HDAC6), a cytoplasmic enzyme that regulates tubulin deacetylation. We also demonstrate that the selective HDAC6 inhibitors tubacin and ACY-1215, which prevented gp120-mediated deacetylation of tubulin, inhibited the ability of gp120 to promote neurite shortening and cell death. We further observed by co-immunoprecipitation and confirmed with mass spectroscopy that exposure of neurons to gp120 decreases the association between tubulin and motor proteins, a well-established consequence of tubulin deacetylation. To assess the physiological consequences of this effect, we examined the axonal transport of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). We report that gp120 decreases the velocity of BDNF transport, which was restored to baseline levels when neurons were exposed to HDAC6 inhibitors. Overall, our data suggest that gp120-mediated tubulin deacetylation causes impairment of axonal transport through alterations to the microtubule cytoskeleton.

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