The vpr gene product of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and simian immunodeficiency virus is a virion-associated regulatory protein that has been shown using vpr mutant viruses to increase virus replication, particularly in monocytes/macrophages. We have previously shown that vpr can directly inhibit cell proliferation and induce cell differentiation, events linked to the control of HIV replication, and also that the replication of a vpr mutant but not that of wild-type HIV type 1 (HIV-1) was compatible with cellular proliferation (D. N. Levy, L. S. Fernandes, W. V. Williams, and D. B. Weiner, Cell 72:541-550, 1993). Here we show that purified recombinant Vpr protein, in concentrations of <100 pg/ml to 100 ng/ml, increases wild-type HIV-1 replication in newly infected transformed cell lines via a long- lasting increase in cellular permissiveness to HIV replication. The activity of extracellular Vpr protein could be completely inhibited by anti-Vpr antibodies. Extracellular Vpr also induced efficient HIV-1 replication in newly infected resting peripheral blood mononuclear cells. Extracellular Vpr transcomplemented a vpr mutant virus which was deficient in replication in promonocytic cells, restoring full replication competence. In addition, extracellular Vpr reactivated HIV-1 expression in five latently infected cell lines of T-cell, B-cell, and promonocytic origin which normally express very low levels of HIV RNA and protein, indicating an activation of translational or pretranslational events in the virus life cycle. Together, these results describe a novel pathway governing HIV replication and a potential target for the development of anti-HIV therapeutics.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science