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EMBO J. 1995 Feb 1;14(3):546-54.

HIV-1 Tat potentiates TNF-induced NF-kappa B activation and cytotoxicity by altering the cellular redox state.

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Division of Immunogenetics, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg.


This study demonstrates that human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) Tat protein amplifies the activity of tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a cytokine that stimulates HIV-1 replication through activation of NF-kappa B. In HeLa cells stably transfected with the HIV-1 tat gene (HeLa-tat cells), expression of the Tat protein enhanced both TNF-induced activation of NF-kappa B and TNF-mediated cytotoxicity. A similar potentiation of TNF effects was observed in Jurkat T cells and HeLa cells treated with soluble Tat protein. TNF-mediated activation of NF-kappa B and cytotoxicity involves the intracellular formation of reactive oxygen intermediates. Therefore, Tat-mediated effects on the cellular redox state were analyzed. In both T cells and HeLa cells HIV-1 Tat suppressed the expression of Mn-dependent superoxide dismutase (Mn-SOD), a mitochondrial enzyme that is part of the cellular defense system against oxidative stress. Thus, Mn-SOD RNA protein levels and activity were markedly reduced in the presence of Tat. Decreased Mn-SOD expression was associated with decreased levels of glutathione and a lower ratio of reduced:oxidized glutathione. A truncated Tat protein (Tat1-72), known to transactivate the HIV-1 long terminal repeat (LTR), no longer affected Mn-SOD expression, the cellular redox state or TNF-mediated cytotoxicity. Thus, our experiments demonstrate that the C-terminal region of HIV-1 Tat is required to suppress Mn-SOD expression and to induce pro-oxidative conditions reflected by a drop in reduced glutathione (GSH) and the GSH:oxidized GSH (GSSG) ratio.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS).

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