Research Summary: Opposite Effects of HIV-1 p17 Variants on PTEN Activation and Cell Growth in B Cells


The HIV-1 matrix protein p17 is a structural protein that can act in the extracellular environment to deregulate several functions of immune cells, through the interaction of its NH2-terminal region with a cellular surface receptor (p17R). The intracellular events triggered by p17/p17R interaction have been not completely characterized yet. In this study we analyze the signal transduction pathways induced by p17/p17R interaction and show that in Raji cells, a human B cell line stably expressing p17R on its surface, p17 induces a transient activation of the transcriptional factor AP-1. Moreover, it was found to upregulate pERK1/2 and downregulate pAkt, which are the major intracellular signalling components involved in AP-1 activation. These effects are mediated by the COOH-terminal region of p17, which displays the capability of keeping PTEN, a phosphatase that regulates the PI3K/Akt pathway, in an active state through the serin/threonin (Ser/Thr) kinase ROCK. Indeed, the COOH-terminal truncated form of p17 (p17Δ36) induced activation of the PI3K/Akt pathway by maintaining PTEN in an inactive phosphorylated form. Interestingly, we show that among different p17s, a variant derived from a Ugandan HIV-1 strain, named S75X, triggers an activation of PI3K/Akt signalling pathway, and leads to an increased B cell proliferation and malignant transformation. In summary, this study shows the role of the COOH-terminal region in modulating the p17 signalling pathways so highlighting the complexity of p17 binding to and signalling through its receptor(s). Moreover, it provides the first evidence on the presence of a p17 natural variant mimicking the p17Δ36-induced signalling in B cells and displaying the capacity of promoting B cell growth and tumorigenesis.


Publisher: Public Library of Science

Date Published: 14-March-2011

Author(s): Giagulli C., Marsico S., Magiera A., Bruno R., Caccuri F., Barone I., Fiorentini S., Andò S., Caruso A.


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