Effects of prostratin on T-cell activation and human immunodeficiency virus latency

Yael D Korin, David G Brooks, Stephen Brown, Andrew Korotzer, Jerome A Zack
Journal of Virology 2002, 76 (16): 8118-23
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) replication is linked to cellular gene transcription and requires target cell activation. The latent reservoir of HIV-1 in quiescent T cells is thought to be a major obstacle to clearance of infection by highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Thus, identification of agents that can induce expression of latent virus may, in the presence of HAART, allow elimination of the infected cells by the immune response. We previously used the SCID-hu (Thy/Liv) mouse model to establish that activation-inducible HIV can be generated at high frequency during thymopoiesis. Latently infected mature thymocytes can be exported into the periphery, providing an efficient primary cell model to determine cellular activation signals that induce renewed expression of latent virus. Here we characterized the effects of prostratin, a non-tumor-promoting phorbol ester, on primary human peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) and assessed its ability to reactivate latent HIV infection from thymocytes and PBLs in the SCID-hu (Thy/Liv) model. Prostratin stimulation alone did not induce proliferation of quiescent PBLs; however, it could provide a secondary signal in the context of T-cell receptor stimulation or a primary activation signal in the presence of CD28 stimulation to induce T-cell proliferation. While prostratin alone was not sufficient to allow de novo HIV infection, it efficiently reactivated HIV expression from latently infected cells generated in the SCID-hu mouse. Our data indicate that prostratin alone is able to specifically reactivate latent virus in the absence of cellular proliferation, making it an attractive candidate for further study as an adjunctive therapy for the elimination of the latent HIV reservoir.

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