Extracellular HIV-1 TAT protein induces the rapid ser133 phosphorylation and activation of CREB transcription factor in both jurkat lymphoblastoid T cells and primary peripheral blood mononuclear cells

Davide Gibellini, Alessandra Bassini, Sabina Pierpaoli, Lucia Bertolaso, Daniela Milani, Silvano Capitani, Michele La Placa, Giorgio Zauli

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Extracellular HIV-1 Tat protein (0.1-100 ng/ml) induced a rapid (peak at 30 min) increase in the Ser133 phosphorylation levels of the transcription factor CREB in serum-starved Jurkat cells, as revealed by Western blot and indirect immunofluorescence analyses. Nuclear cAMP-responsive element (CRE) binding activity in electrophoretic mobility shift assays was constitutive in unstimulated Jurkat cells, showing only a small increase upon Tat treatment. However, transient transfection experiments performed with various chloramphenicol acetyl-transferase (CAT) constructs showed that Tat produced a fourfold induction of CAT activity only in the presence of a CRE-dependent CAT construct. Moreover, the use of plasmids encoding for GAL4-CREB fusion proteins demonstrated that Tat induction of pG4-CAT reporter gene required the CREB moiety of the GAL4-CREB fusion protein and that Ser133 CREB was essential for Tat activity. Extracellular Tat also stimulated Ser133 CREB phosphorylation in freshly isolated PBMC; this effect was completely blocked by either staurosporin, a broad-spectrum inhibitor of various protein kinases, or PD 98059, a specific inhibitor of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK). Furthermore, extracellular Tat induced a rapid (peak at 5-15 min) stimulation of the MAPK catalytic activity in primary PBMC. Altogether, these findings suggest that HIV-1 Tat protein activates CREB in lymphoid cells through a signal cascade involving the MAPK pathway.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3891-3898
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Immunology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Apr 15 1998


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology

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