Publications & Reports

Diminished production of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 in astrocytes results from inefficient translation of gag, env, and nef mRNAs despite efficient expression of Tat and Rev.

Gorry PR, Howard JL, Churchill MJ, Anderson JL, Cunningham A, Adrian D, McPhee DA, Purcell DF
AIDS Cellular, Victoria, Australia.


Astrocytes infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) produce only minimal quantities of virus.

The molecular events that limit acute-phase HIV-1 infection of astrocytes were examined after inducing acute-phase replication by transfection with the pNL4-3 proviral plasmid.

The levels of HIV-1 mRNA were similarly high in both astrocytes and HeLa cells, but astrocytes produced approximately 50-fold less supernatant p24 than HeLa cells.

We found that diminished HIV-1 production in astrocytes resulted from inefficient translation of gag, env, and nef mRNAs that were efficiently transported to the cytoplasm.

Tat- or Rev-dependent reporter constructs showed no defect in Tat or Rev function in astrocytes compared with HeLa cells. HIV-1 mRNAs were correctly spliced, but only Rev and Tat proteins were efficiently translated from their native mRNAs.

Pulse-chase labelling and immunoblot experiments revealed no defect in protein processing, but levels of Gag, Env, or Nef protein expressed were dramatically reduced in astrocytes compared to HeLa cells.

These results demonstrate that inefficient translation of HIV-1 structural proteins underlies the restricted infection of astrocytes. The efficient expression of functional Tat and Rev by astrocytes may contribute to HIV-1 neuropathogenesis.


  • Journal: Journal of Virology
  • Published: 01/01/1999
  • Volume: 73
  • Issue: 1
  • Pagination: 352-361

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