Targeting IκB proteins for HIV latency activation: the role of individual IκB and NF-κB proteins

Guerau Fernandez, Thomas D Zaikos, Sohrab Z Khan, Ashley M Jacobi, Mark A Behlke, Steven L Zeichner
Journal of Virology 2013, 87 (7): 3966-78
Latently infected cell reservoirs represent the main barrier to HIV eradication. Combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) effectively blocks viral replication but cannot purge latent provirus. One approach to HIV eradication could include cART to block new infections plus an agent to activate latent provirus. NF-κB activation induces HIV expression, ending latency. Before activation, IκB proteins sequester NF-κB dimers in the cytoplasm. Three canonical IκBs, IκBα, IκBβ, and IκBε, exist, but the IκB proteins' role in HIV activation regulation is not fully understood. We studied the effects on HIV activation of targeting IκBs by single and pairwise small interfering RNA (siRNA) knockdown. After determining the relative abundance of the IκBs, the relative abundance of NF-κB subunits held by the IκBs, and the kinetics of IκB degradation and resynthesis following knockdown, we studied HIV activation by IκB knockdown, in comparison with those of known HIV activators, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), tetradecanoyl phorbol acetate (TPA), and trichostatin A (TSA), in U1 monocytic and J-Lat 10.6 lymphocytic latently infected cells. We found that IκBα knockdown activated HIV in both U1 and J-Lat 10.6 cells, IκBβ knockdown did not activate HIV, and, surprisingly, IκBε knockdown produced the most HIV activation, comparable to TSA activation. Our data show that HIV reactivation can be triggered by targeting two different IκB proteins and that IκBε may be an effective target for HIV latency reactivation in T-cell and macrophage lineages. IκBε knockdown may offer attractive therapeutic advantages for HIV activation because it is not essential for mammalian growth and development and because new siRNA delivery strategies may target siRNAs to HIV latently infected cells.

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