[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: IL-7 signaling is essential to CD8 T cell development, activation, and homeostasis. We have previously shown decreased expression of the IL-7R alpha-chain (CD127) on CD8 T cells in HIV(+) patients and that this downregulation is mediated at least in part by the HIV Tat protein. We show in this study that CD127 has a prolonged t(1/2) in resting CD8 T cells and continuously recycles on and off the cell membrane. We also demonstrate soluble Tat protein significantly decreases the t(1/2) of CD127. Soluble Tat is taken up from the medium and accumulates in CD8 T cells with a peak of 6 h. Once inside the cell, Tat exits the endosomes during their normal acidification and enters the cytosol. Tat then translocates to the inner leaflet of the cell membrane, where it binds directly to the cytoplasmic tail of CD127, inducing receptor aggregation and internalization through a process dependent on microtubules. Tat appears to then target CD127 for degradation via the proteasome. By removing CD127 from the cell surface, the HIV Tat protein is thus able to reduce IL-7 signaling and impair CD8 T cell proliferation and function.
The Journal of Immunology 09/2010; 185(5):2854-66. · 5.52 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We have previously shown decreased expression of the interleukin (IL)-7 receptor alpha-chain (CD127) on CD8 T-cells in HIV-infected patients and an apparent recovery of this receptor in those receiving antiretroviral therapy with sustained viral suppression. Here, we demonstrate that the HIV Tat protein specifically downregulates cell surface expression of CD127 on human CD8 T-cells in a dose- and time-dependent manner. The effects of Tat on CD127 expression could be blocked with anti-Tat monoclonal antibodies or by preincubating Tat with heparin. Tat had no effect on the expression of other cell surface proteins examined, including CD132, or on cell viability over 72 hours. Further, CD127 expression was not altered by other HIV proteins, including gp160 or Nef. Preincubation of purified CD8 T-cells with Tat protein inhibited CD8 T-cell proliferation and perforin synthesis after stimulation with IL-7. Because IL-7 signaling is essential for optimal CD8 T-cell proliferation and function, the downregulation of CD127 and apparent inhibition of cytotoxic activity by Tat may play an important role in HIV-induced immune dysregulation and impaired cell-mediated immunity.