[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: All primate lentiviruses known to date contain one or two open reading frames with homology to the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) vpr gene. HIV-1 vpr encodes a 96-amino-acid protein with multiple functions in the viral life cycle. These functions include modulation of the viral replication kinetics, transactivation of the long terminal repeat, participation in the nuclear import of preintegration complexes, induction of G2 arrest, and induction of apoptosis. The simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) that infects African green monkeys (SIVagm) contains a vpr homologue, which encodes a 118-amino-acid protein. SIVagm vpr is structurally and functionally related to HIV-1 vpr. The present study focuses on how three specific functions (transactivation, induction of G2 arrest, and induction of apoptosis) are related to one another at a functional level, for HIV-1 and SIVagm vpr. While our study supports previous reports demonstrating a causal relationship between induction of G2 arrest and transactivation for HIV-1 vpr, we demonstrate that the same is not true for SIVagm vpr. Transactivation by SIVagm vpr is independent of cell cycle perturbation. In addition, we show that induction of G2 arrest is necessary for the induction of apoptosis by HIV-1 vpr but that the induction of apoptosis by SIVagm vpr is cell cycle independent. Finally, while SIVagm vpr retains its transactivation function in human cells, it is unable to induce G2 arrest or apoptosis in such cells, suggesting that the cytopathic effects of SIVagm vpr are species specific. Taken together, our results suggest that while the multiple functions of vpr are conserved between HIV-1 and SIVagm, the mechanisms leading to the execution of such functions are divergent.
Journal of Virology 05/2001; 75(8):3791-801. · 4.65 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The vpr gene from the human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) encodes a 14-kDa protein that prevents cell proliferation by causing a block in the G(2) phase of the cell cycle. This cellular function of vpr is conserved in evolution because other primate lentiviruses, including HIV-2, SIV(mac), and SIV(agm) encode related genes that also induce G(2) arrest. After G(2) arrest, cells expressing vpr undergo apoptosis. The signaling pathways that result in vpr-induced cell cycle arrest and apoptosis have yet to be determined. The p53 tumor suppressor protein is involved in signaling pathways leading to cell cycle arrest and apoptosis in a variety of cell types. In this work, we examine the potential role of p53 in mediating cell cycle block and/or apoptosis by HIV-1 vpr and demonstrate that both phenomena occur independently of the presence and function of p53. Caspases are common mediators of apoptosis. We examined the potential role of caspases in mediating vpr-induced apoptosis by treating vpr-expressing cells with Boc-D-FMK, a broad spectrum, irreversible inhibitor of the caspase family. Boc-D-FMK significantly reduced the numbers of apoptotic cells induced by vpr. Therefore, we conclude that vpr-induced apoptosis is effected via the activation of caspases.
Experimental Cell Research 09/1999; 251(1):156-65. · 3.37 Impact Factor