EGCG inhibits Tat-induced LTR transactivation: role of Nrf2, AKT, AMPK signaling pathway

Hong-Sheng Zhang, Tong-Chao Wu, Wei-Wei Sang, Zheng Ruan
Life Sciences 2012 May 22, 90 (19-20): 747-54

AIMS: Transcription is a crucial step for human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) gene expression in infected host cells. The HIV-1 Tat activates the nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB) signaling transduction pathway, which is necessary for viral replication. Epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral properties. In this study, we investigated the effects of EGCG on Tat-induced HIV-1 transactivation and potential mechanisms by which EGCG inhibited activation of NF-κB pathway.

MAIN METHODS: HeLa-CD4-long terminal repeat (LTR)-β-gal (MAGI) cells were transfected with Tat plasmid. Tat-induced HIV-1 LTR transactivation was determined by MAGI cell assay. The reactive oxygen species (ROS) levels and glutathione (GSH) levels were measured. In addition, the protein expressions were assayed by western blotting.

KEY FINDINGS: Tat caused a significant decrease in the intracellular glutathione (GSH) levels, a mild increase in the expression of nuclear levels of NF-E2-related factor-2 (Nrf2), a significant increase in the levels of NF-κB (phosphorylation of p65 and IKK) and a significant increase in ROS production. EGCG supplementation significantly improved the changes associated with Tat-induced oxidative stress by increasing nuclear levels of Nrf2, decreasing levels of NF-κB and ROS production. EGCG reversed Tat-mediated AKT activation and AMPK inhibition in MAGI cells. EGCG inhibited Tat-induced LTR transactivation in a dose-dependent manner.

SIGNIFICANCE: The results suggest that Nrf2 signaling pathway may be the primary target for prevention of Tat-induced HIV-1 transactivation by EGCG, and EGCG also reduce NF-κB activation by inhibiting AKT signaling pathway and activating AMPK signaling pathway.

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