Syncytia arising from the fusion of cells expressing the HIV-1-encoded Env gene with cells expressing the CD4/CXCR4 complex undergo apoptosis following the nuclear translocation of mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR), mTOR-mediated phosphorylation of p53 on Ser15 (p53S15), p53-dependent upregulation of Bax and activation of the mitochondrial death pathway. p53S15 phosphorylation is only detected in syncytia in which nuclear fusion (karyogamy) has occurred. Karyogamy is secondary to a transient upregulation of cyclin B and a mitotic prophase-like dismantling of the nuclear envelope. Inhibition of cyclin-dependent kinase-1 (Cdk1) prevents karyogamy, mTOR activation, p53S15 phosphorylation and apoptosis. Neutralization of p53 fails to prevent karyogamy, yet suppresses apoptosis. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells from HIV-1-infected patients exhibit an increase in cyclin B and mTOR expression, correlating with p53S15 phosphorylation and viral load. Cdk1 inhibition prevents the death of syncytia elicited by HIV-1 infection of primary CD4 lymphoblasts. Thus, HIV-1 elicits a pro-apoptotic signal transduction pathway relying on the sequential action of cyclin B-Cdk1, mTOR and p53.
- Cell death
- Cyclin B
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Immunology and Microbiology(all)