Diverse effects of interferon alpha on the establishment and reversal of HIV latency

Renée M. van der Sluis, Jennifer M. Zerbato, Jake W. Rhodes, Rachel D. Pascoe, Ajantha Solomon, Nitasha A. Kumar, Ashanti I. Dantanarayana, Surekha Tennakoon, Jérémy Dufloo, James McMahon, Judy J. Chang, Vanessa A. Evans, Paul J. Hertzog, Martin R. Jakobsen, Andrew N. Harman, Sharon R. Lewin, Paul U. Cameron

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HIV latency is the major barrier to a cure for people living with HIV (PLWH) on antiretroviral therapy (ART) because the virus persists in long-lived non-proliferating and proliferating latently infected CD4+ T cells. Latently infected CD4+ T cells do not express viral proteins and are therefore not visible to immune mediated clearance. Therefore, identifying interventions that can reverse latency and also enhance immune mediated clearance is of high interest. Interferons (IFNs) have multiple immune enhancing effects and can inhibit HIV replication in activated CD4+ T cells. However, the effects of IFNs on the establishment and reversal of HIV latency is not understood. Using an in vitro model of latency, we demonstrated that plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC) inhibit the establishment of HIV latency through secretion of type I IFNα, IFNβ and IFNω but not IFNε or type III IFNλ1 and IFNλ3. However, once latency was established, IFNα but no other IFNs were able to efficiently reverse latency in both an in vitro model of latency and CD4+ T cells collected from PLWH on suppressive ART. Binding of IFNα to its receptor expressed on primary CD4+ T cells did not induce activation of the canonical or non-canonical NFκB pathway but did induce phosphorylation of STAT1, 3 and 5 proteins. STAT5 has been previously demonstrated to bind to the HIV long terminal repeat and activate HIV transcription. We demonstrate diverse effects of interferons on HIV latency with type I IFNα; inhibiting the establishment of latency but also reversing HIV latency once latency is established.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1008151
Number of pages27
JournalPLoS Pathogens
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020

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