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Caspase-3-mediated cleavage of p65/RelA results in a carboxy-terminal fragment that inhibits IκBα and enhances HIV-1 replication in human T lymphocytes

Author(s): Coiras Mayte | López-Huertas María | Mateos Elena | Alcamí José

Journal: Retrovirology
ISSN 1742-4690

Volume: 5;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 109;
Date: 2008;
Original page

Abstract Background Degradation of p65/RelA has been involved in both the inhibition of NF-κB-dependent activity and the onset of apoptosis. However, the mechanisms of NF-κB degradation are unclear and can vary depending on the cell type. Cleavage of p65/RelA can produce an amino-terminal fragment that was shown to act as a dominant-negative inhibitor of NF-κB, thereby promoting apoptosis. However, the opposite situation has also been described and the production of a carboxy-terminal fragment that contains two potent transactivation domains has also been related to the onset of apoptosis. In this context, a carboxy-terminal fragment of p65/RelA (ΔNH2p65), detected in non-apoptotic human T lymphocytes upon activation, has been studied. T cells constitute one of the long-lived cellular reservoirs of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). Because NF-κB is the most important inducible element involved in initiation of HIV-1 transcription, an adequate control of NF-κB response is of paramount importance for both T cell survival and viral spread. Its major inhibitor IκBα constitutes a master terminator of NF-κB response that is complemented by degradation of p65/RelA. Results and conclusions In this study, the function of a caspase-3-mediated carboxy-terminal fragment of p65/RelA, which was detected in activated human peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs), was analyzed. Cells producing this truncated p65/RelA did not undergo apoptosis but showed a high viability, in spite of caspase-3 activation. ΔNH2p65 lacked most of DNA-binding domain but retained the dimerization domain, NLS and transactivation domains. Consequently, it could translocate to the nucleus, associate with NF-κB1/p50 and IκBα, but could not bind -κB consensus sites. However, although ΔNH2p65 lacked transcriptional activity by itself, it could increase NF-κB activity in a dose-dependent manner by hijacking IκBα. Thus, its expression resulted in a persistent transactivation activity of wild-type p65/RelA, as well as an improvement of HIV-1 replication in PBLs. Moreover, ΔNH2p65 was increased in the nuclei of PMA-, PHA-, and TNFα-activated T cells, proving this phenomenon was related to cell activation. These data suggest the existence of a novel mechanism for maintaining NF-κB activity in human T cells through the binding of the carboxy-terminal fragment of p65/RelA to IκBα in order to protect wild-type p65/RelA from IκBα inhibition.
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