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Novel role of UHRF1 in the epigenetic repression of the latent HIV-1

Abstract : Background: The multiplicity, heterogeneity, and dynamic nature of human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) latency mechanisms are reflected in the current lack of functional cure for HIV-1. Accordingly, all classes of latency-reversing agents (LRAs) have been reported to present variable ex vivo potencies. Here, we investigated the molecular mechanisms underlying the potency variability of one LRA: the DNA methylation inhibitor 5-aza-2'-deoxycytidine (5-AzadC). Methods: We employed epigenetic interrogation methods (electrophoretic mobility shift assays, chromatin immunoprecipitation, Infinium array) in complementary HIV-1 infection models (latently-infected T-cell line models, primary CD4+ T-cell models and ex vivo cultures of PBMCs from HIV+ individuals). Extracellular staining of cell surface receptors and intracellular metabolic activity were measured in drug-treated cells. HIV-1 expression in reactivation studies was explored by combining the measures of capsid p24Gag protein, green fluorescence protein signal, intracellular and extracellular viral RNA and viral DNA. Findings: We uncovered specific demethylation CpG signatures induced by 5-AzadC in the HIV-1 promoter. By analyzing the binding modalities to these CpG, we revealed the recruitment of the epigenetic integrator Ubiquitin-like with PHD and RING finger domain 1 (UHRF1) to the HIV-1 promoter. We showed that UHRF1 redundantly binds to the HIV-1 promoter with different binding modalities where DNA methylation was either non-essential, essential or enhancing UHRF1 binding. We further demonstrated the role of UHRF1 in the epigenetic repression of the latent viral promoter by a concerted control of DNA and histone methylations. Interpretation: A better understanding of the molecular mechanisms of HIV-1 latency allows for the development of innovative antiviral strategies. As a proof-of-concept, we showed that pharmacological inhibition of UHRF1 in ex vivo HIV+ patient cell cultures resulted in potent viral reactivation from latency. Together, we identify UHRF1 as a novel actor in HIV-1 epigenetic silencing and highlight that it constitutes a new molecular target for HIV-1 cure strategies.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, June 21, 2022 - 1:40:55 PM
Last modification on : Sunday, June 26, 2022 - 2:17:49 AM

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Roxane Verdikt, Maryam Bendoumou, Sophie Bouchat, Lorena Nestola, Alexander Pasternak, et al.. Novel role of UHRF1 in the epigenetic repression of the latent HIV-1. EBioMedicine, Elsevier, 2022, 79, pp.103985. ⟨10.1016/j.ebiom.2022.103985⟩. ⟨pasteur-03700712⟩

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