Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infects cells of the monocyte/macrophage lineage. While infection of macrophages by HIV-1 is generally not cytopathic, it does impair macrophage function.
In this study, we examined the effect of HIV-1 infection on intracellular signaling in human monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM) stimulated with the growth factor granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF). GM-CSF is an important growth factor for cells of both the macrophage and granulocyte lineages and enhances effector functions of these cells via the heterodimeric GM-CSF receptor (GM-CSFR). A major pathway which mediates the effects of GM-CSF on macrophages involves activation of the latent transcription factor STAT5A via a Janus kinase 2 (JAK2)-dependent pathway.
We demonstrate that GM-CSF-induced activation of STAT5A is inhibited in MDM after infection in vitro with the laboratory-adapted R5 strain of HIV-1, HIV-1(Ba-L), but not after infection with adenovirus. HIV-1 infection of MDM did not decrease the STAT5A or JAK2 mRNA level or STAT5A protein level or result in increased constitutive activation of STAT5A. Surface expression of either the alpha-chain or common beta©-chain of GM-CSFR was also unaffected.
We conclude that HIV-1 inhibits GM-CSF activation of STAT5A without affecting expression of the known components of the signaling pathway. These data provide further evidence of disruption of cellular signaling pathways after HIV-1 infection, which may contribute to immune dysfunction and HIV-1 pathogenesis.