Current combination antiretroviral therapies (cART) are unable to eradicate HIV-1 from infected individuals because of the establishment of proviral latency in long-lived cellular reservoirs. The shock-and-kill approach aims to reactivate viral replication from the latent state (shock) using latency-reversing agents (LRAs), followed by the elimination of reactivated virus-producing cells (kill) by specific therapeutics. The NF-κB RelA/p50 heterodimer has been characterized as an essential component of reactivation of the latent HIV-1 long terminal repeat (LTR). Nevertheless, prolonged NF-κB activation contributes to the development of various autoimmune, inflammatory, and malignant disorders. In the present study, we established a cellular model of HIV-1 latency in J-Lat CD4+ T cells that stably expressed the NF-κB superrepressor IκB-α 2NΔ4 and demonstrate that conventional treatments with bryostatin-1 and hexamethylenebisacetamide (HMBA) or ionomycin synergistically reactivated HIV-1 from latency, even under conditions where NF-κB activation was repressed. Using specific calcineurin phosphatase, p38, and MEK1/MEK2 kinase inhibitors or specific short hairpin RNAs, c-Jun was identified to be an essential factor binding to the LTR enhancer κB sites and mediating the combined synergistic reactivation effect. Furthermore, acetylsalicylic acid (ASA), a potent inhibitor of the NF-κB activator kinase IκB kinase β (IKK-β), did not significantly diminish reactivation in a primary CD4+ T central memory (TCM) cell latency model. The present work demonstrates that the shock phase of the shock-and-kill approach to reverse HIV-1 latency may be achieved in the absence of NF-κB, with the potential to avoid unwanted autoimmune- and or inflammation-related side effects associated with latency-reversing strategies. IMPORTANCE The shock-and-kill approach consists of the reactivation of HIV-1 replication from latency using latency-reversing agents (LRAs), followed by the elimination of reactivated virus-producing cells. The cellular transcription factor NF-κB is considered a master mediator of HIV-1 escape from latency induced by LRAs. Nevertheless, a systemic activation of NF-κB in HIV-1-infected patients resulting from the combined administration of different LRAs could represent a potential risk, especially in the case of a prolonged treatment. We demonstrate here that conventional treatments with bryostatin-1 and hexamethylenebisacetamide (HMBA) or ionomycin synergistically reactivate HIV-1 from latency, even under conditions where NF-κB activation is repressed. Our study provides a molecular proof of concept for the use of anti-inflammatory drugs, like aspirin, capable of inhibiting NF-κB in patients under combination antiretroviral therapy during the shock-and-kill approach, to avoid potential autoimmune and inflammatory disorders that can be elicited by combinations of LRAs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science