The HIV-1 Vpu protein is expressed late in the virus lifecycle to promote infectious virus production and avoid innate and adaptive immunity. This includes the inhibition of the NF-B pathway which, when activated, leads to the induction of inflammatory responses and the promotion of antiviral immunity. Here we demonstrate that Vpu can inhibit both canonical and non-canonical NF-B pathways, through the direct inhibition of the F-box protein -TrCP, the substrate recognition portion of the Skp1-Cul1-F-box (SCF)-TrCP ubiquitin ligase complex. There are two paralogues of -TrCP (-TrCP1/BTRC and -TrCP2/FBXW11), encoded on different chromosomes, which appear to be functionally redundant. Vpu, however, is one of the few -TrCP substrates to differentiate between the two paralogues. We have found that patient-derived alleles of Vpu, unlike those from lab-adapted viruses, trigger the degradation of -TrCP1 while co-opting its paralogue -TrCP2 for the degradation of cellular targets of Vpu, such as CD4. The potency of this dual inhibition correlates with stabilisation of the classical IB and the phosphorylated precursors of the mature DNA-binding subunits of canonical and non-canonical NF-B pathways, p105/NFB1 and p100/NFB2, in HIV-1 infected CD4+ T cells. Both precursors act as alternative IBs in their own right, thus reinforcing NF-B inhibition at steady state and upon activation with either selective canonical or non-canonical NF-B stimuli. These data reveal the complex regulation of NF-B late in the viral replication cycle, with consequences for both the pathogenesis of HIV/AIDS and the use of NF-B-modulating drugs in HIV cure strategies.
|Publication status||Accepted/In press - 5 Apr 2023|