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Open Access Publications from the University of California

TREM-1 Protects HIV-1-Infected Macrophages from Apoptosis through Maintenance of Mitochondrial Function.

  • Author(s): Campbell, Grant R
  • To, Rachel K
  • Spector, Stephen A
  • et al.

Macrophages are a reservoir for latent human immunodeficiency type 1 (HIV) infection and a barrier to HIV eradication. In contrast to CD4+ T cells, macrophages are resistant to the cytopathic effects of acute HIV infection. Emerging data suggest a role for TREM1 (triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 1) in this resistance to HIV-mediated cytopathogenesis. Here, we show that upon HIV infection, macrophages increase the expression of BCL2, BCLXL, TREM1, mitofusin 1 (MFN1), and MFN2 and the translocation of BCL2L11 (BIM) to the mitochondria and decrease the expression of BCL2-associated agonist of cell death (BAD) and BAX while maintaining a 95% survival rate over 28 days. The HIV proteins Tat and gp120 and the GU-rich single-stranded RNA (ssRNA) (RNA40) from the HIV long terminal repeat region (and a natural Toll-like receptor 8 [TLR8] agonist) induced similar effects. TREM1 silencing in HIV-infected macrophages led to decreased expression of BCL2, BCLXL, MFN1, and MFN2 and increased expression of BAD and BAX. This correlated with a significant increase in apoptosis mediated by a disruption of the mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψm), leading to the release of cytochrome c and caspase 9 cleavage. Exposure of TREM1-silenced macrophages to Tat, gp120, or RNA40 similarly resulted in the disruption of Δψm, cytochrome c release, caspase 9 cleavage, and apoptosis. Thus, our findings identify a mechanism whereby HIV promotes macrophage survival through TREM1-dependent upregulation of BCL2 family proteins and mitofusins that inhibits BCL2L11-mediated disruption of Δψm and subsequent apoptosis. These findings indicate that TREM1 can be a useful target for elimination of the HIV reservoir in macrophages.IMPORTANCE The major challenge to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) treatment is the development of strategies that lead to viral eradication. A roadblock to accomplishing this goal is the lack of an approach that would safely eliminate HIV from all resting/latent reservoirs, including macrophages. Macrophages are a key part of the innate immune system and are responsible for recognizing invading microbes and sending appropriate signals to other immune cells. Here, we found that HIV induces the upregulation of the protein TREM1 (triggering receptor expressed on myeloid cells 1), which signals an increase in the expression of antiapoptotic proteins, thus promoting survival of HIV-infected macrophages.

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