Molecular mimicry in inducing DNA damage between HIV-1 Vpr and the anticancer agent, cisplatin.

1Department of Biology, College of Science and Technology, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Oncogene (Impact Factor: 8.56). 02/2008; 27(1):32-43. DOI: 10.1038/sj.onc.1210632
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) viral protein R (vpr) gene is an evolutionarily conserved gene among the primate lentiviruses. Several functions are attributed to Vpr including the ability to cause cell death, cell cycle arrest, apoptosis and DNA damage. The Vpr domain responsible for DNA damage as well as the mechanism(s) through which Vpr induces this damage is unknown. Using site-directed mutagenesis, we identified the helical domain II within Vpr (aa 37-50) as the region responsible for causing DNA damage. Interestingly, Vpr Delta(37-50) failed to cause cell cycle arrest or apoptosis, to induce Ku70 or Ku80 and to suppress tumor growth, but maintained its capability to activate the HIV-1 LTR, to localize to the nucleus and to promote nonhomologous end-joining. In addition, our cytogenetic data indicated that helical domain II induced chromosomal aberrations, which mimicked those induced by cisplatin, an anticancer agent. This novel molecular mimicry function of Vpr might lead to its potential therapeutic use as a tumor suppressor.

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    ABSTRACT: Human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) viral protein R (Vpr) has been shown to induce host cell death by increasing the permeability of mitochondrial outer membrane (MOM). The mechanism underlying the damage to the mitochondria by Vpr, however, is not clearly illustrated. In this study, Vpr that is introduced, via transient transfection or lentivirus infection, into the human embryonic kidney cell line HEK293, human CD4(+) T lymphoblast cell line SupT1, or human primary CD4(+) T cells serves as the model system to study the molecular mechanism of Vpr-mediated HIV-1 pathogenesis. The results show that Vpr injures MOM and causes a loss in membrane potential (MMP) by posttranscriptionally reducing the expression of mitofusin 2 (Mfn2) via VprBP-DDB1-CUL4A ubiquitin ligase complex, gradually weakening MOM, and increasing mitochondrial deformation. Vpr also markedly decreases cytoplasmic levels of dynamin-related protein 1 (DRP1) and increases bulging in mitochondria-associated membranes (MAM), the specific regions of endoplasmic reticulum (ER) which form physical contacts with the mitochondria. Overexpression of Mfn2 and DRP1 significantly decreased the loss of MMP and apoptotic cell death caused by Vpr. Furthermore, by employing time-lapse confocal fluorescence microscopy, we identify the transport of Vpr protein from the ER, via MAM to the mitochondria. Taken together, our results suggest that Vpr-mediated cellular damage may occur on an alternative protein transport pathway from the ER, via MAM to the mitochondria, which are modulated by Mfn2 and DRP1.
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