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Baldauf, Hanna-Mari; Stegmann, Lena; Schwarz, Sarah-Marie; Ambiel, Ina; Trotard, Maud; Martin, Margarethe; Burggraf, Manja; Lenzi, Gina M.; Lejk, Helena; Pan, Xiaoyu; Fregoso, Oliver; Lim, Efrem; Abraham, Libin; Nguyen, Laura A.; Rutsch, Frank; König, Renate; Kim, Bäk; Emerman, Michael; Fackler, Oliver; Keppler, Oliver T. (2017): Vpx overcomes a SAMHD1-independent block to HIV reverse transcription that is specific to resting CD4 T cells. In: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, Vol. 114, No. 10: pp. 2729-2734
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Abstract

Early after entry into monocytes, macrophages, dendritic cells, and resting CD4 T cells, HIV encounters a block, limiting reverse transcription (RT) of the incoming viral RNA genome. In this context, dNTP triphosphohydrolase SAM domain and HD domain-containing protein 1 (SAMHD1) has been identified as a restriction factor, lowering the concentration of dNTP substrates to limit RT. The accessory lentiviral protein X (Vpx) proteins from the major simian immunodeficiency virus of rhesus macaque, sooty mangabey, and HIV-2 (SIVsmm/SIVmac/HIV-2) lineage packaged into virions target SAMHD1 for proteasomal degradation, increase intracellular dNTP pools, and facilitate HIV cDNA synthesis. We find that virion-packaged Vpx proteins from a second SIV lineage, SIV of red-capped mangabeys or mandrills (SIVrcm/mnd-2), increased HIV infection in resting CD4 T cells, but not in macrophages, and, unexpectedly, acted in the absence of SAMHD1 degradation, dNTP pool elevation, or changes in SAMHD1 phosphorylation. Vpx rcm/mnd-2 virion incorporation resulted in a dramatic increase of HIV-1 RT intermediates and viral cDNA in infected resting CD4 T cells. These analyses also revealed a barrier limiting HIV-1 infection of resting CD4 T cells at the level of nuclear import. Single amino acid changes in the SAMHD1-degrading Vpx mac239 allowed it to enhance early postentry steps in a Vpx rcm/mnd-2-like fashion. Moreover, Vpx enhanced HIV-1 infection of SAMHD1-deficient resting CD4 T cells of a patient with Aicardi-Goutieres syndrome. These results indicate that Vpx, in addition to SAMHD1, overcomes a previously unappreciated restriction for lentiviruses at the level of RT that acts independently of dNTP concentrations and is specific to resting CD4 T cells.