Skip Navigation LinksHome > May 15, 2010 - Volume 24 - Issue 8 > HIV-1 viral protein r induces ERK and caspase-8-dependent ap...
AIDS:
doi: 10.1097/QAD.0b013e328337b0ab
Basic Science

HIV-1 viral protein r induces ERK and caspase-8-dependent apoptosis in renal tubular epithelial cells

Snyder, Alexandra; Alsauskas, Zygimantas C; Leventhal, Jeremy S; Rosenstiel, Paul E; Gong, Pengfei; Chan, Justin JK; Barley, Kevin; He, John C; Klotman, Mary E; Ross, Michael J; Klotman, Paul E

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Abstract

Objective: HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN) is the most common cause of end-stage renal disease in persons with HIV/AIDS and is characterized by focal glomerulosclerosis and dysregulated renal tubular epithelial cell (RTEC) proliferation and apoptosis. HIV-1 viral protein r (Vpr) has been implicated in HIV-induced RTEC apoptosis but the mechanisms of Vpr-induced RTEC apoptosis are unknown. The aim of this study was therefore to determine the mechanisms of Vpr-induced apoptosis in RTEC.

Methods: Apoptosis and caspase activation were analyzed in human RTEC (HK2) after transduction with Vpr-expressing and control lentiviral vectors. Bax and BID were inhibited with lentiviral shRNA, and ERK activation was blocked with the MEK1,2 inhibitor, U0126.

Results: Vpr induced apoptosis as indicated by caspase 3/7 activation, PARP-1 cleavage and mitochondrial injury. Vpr activated both caspases-8 and 9. Inhibition of Bax reduced Vpr-induced apoptosis, as reported in other cell types. Additionally, Vpr-induced cleavage of BID to tBID and suppression of BID expression prevented Vpr-induced apoptosis. Since sustained ERK activation can activate caspase-8 in some cell types, we studied the role of ERK in Vpr-induced caspase-8 activation. Vpr induced sustained ERK activation in HK2 cells and incubation with U0126 reduced Vpr-induced caspase-8 activation, BID cleavage and apoptosis. We detected phosphorylated ERK in RTEC in HIVAN biopsy specimens by immunohistochemistry.

Conclusions: These studies delineate a novel pathway of Vpr-induced apoptosis in RTEC, which is mediated by sustained ERK activation, resulting in caspase 8-mediated cleavage of BID to tBID, thereby facilitating Bax-mediated mitochondrial injury and apoptosis.

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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