JOURNAL ARTICLE

HIV-1 Vpr up-regulates expression of ligands for the activating NKG2D receptor and promotes NK cell-mediated killing

Jonathan Richard, Sardar Sindhu, Tram N Q Pham, Jean-Philippe Belzile, Eric A Cohen
Blood 2010 February 18, 115 (7): 1354-63
20008788
HIV up-regulates cell-surface expression of specific ligands for the activating NKG2D receptor, including ULBP-1, -2, and -3, but not MICA or MICB, in infected cells both in vitro and in vivo. However, the viral factor(s) involved in NKG2D ligand expression still remains undefined. HIV-1 Vpr activates the DNA damage/stress-sensing ATR kinase and promotes G(2) cell-cycle arrest, conditions known to up-regulate NKG2D ligands. We report here that HIV-1 selectively induces cell-surface expression of ULBP-2 in primary CD4(+) T lymphocytes by a process that is Vpr dependent. Importantly, Vpr enhanced the susceptibility of HIV-1-infected cells to NK cell-mediated killing. Strikingly, Vpr alone was sufficient to up-regulate expression of all NKG2D ligands and thus promoted efficient NKG2D-dependent NK cell-mediated killing. Delivery of virion-associated Vpr via defective HIV-1 particles induced analogous biologic effects in noninfected target cells, suggesting that Vpr may act similarly beyond infected cells. All these activities relied on Vpr ability to activate the ATR-mediated DNA damage/stress checkpoint. Overall, these results indicate that Vpr is a key determinant responsible for HIV-1-induced up-regulation of NKG2D ligands and further suggest an immunomodulatory role for Vpr that may not only contribute to HIV-1-induced CD4(+) T-lymphocyte depletion but may also take part in HIV-1-induced NK-cell dysfunction.

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