HIV-1 Tat-mediated astrocytic amyloidosis involves the HIF-1α/lncRNA BACE1-AS axis

by Susmita Sil, Guoku Hu, Ke Liao, Fang Niu, Shannon Callen, Palsamy Periyasamy, Howard S. Fox, Shilpa Buch

Increased life expectancy of patients diagnosed with HIV in the current era of antiretroviral therapy is unfortunately accompanied with the prevalence of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HANDs) and risk of comorbidities such as Alzheimer-like pathology. HIV-1 transactivator of transcription (Tat) protein has been shown to induce the production of toxic neuronal amyloid protein and also enhance neurotoxicity. The contribution of astrocytes in Tat-mediated amyloidosis remains an enigma. We report here, in simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)+ rhesus macaques and patients diagnosed with HIV, brain region–specific up-regulation of amyloid precursor protein (APP) and Aβ (40 and 42) in astrocytes. In addition, we find increased expression of β-site cleaving enzyme (BACE1), APP, and Aβ in human primary astrocytes (HPAs) exposed to Tat. Mechanisms involved up-regulation of hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF-1α), its translocation and binding to the long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) BACE1‐antisense transcript (BACE1-AS), resulting, in turn, in the formation of the BACE1-AS/BACE1 RNA complex, subsequently leading to increased BACE1 protein, and activity and generation of Aβ-42. Gene silencing approaches confirmed the regulatory role of HIF-1α in BACE1-AS/BACE1 in Tat-mediated amyloidosis. This is the first report implicating the role of the HIF-1α/lncRNABACE1-AS/BACE1 axis in Tat-mediated induction of astrocytic amyloidosis, which could be targeted as adjunctive therapies for HAND-associated Alzheimer-like comorbidity.

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