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2250 Induction Of Ferroportin, Erg-1, p21 and IKBα In Sickle Cell Disease May Contribute To HIV-1 InhibitionClinically Relevant Abstract

Program: Oral and Poster Abstracts
Session: 111. Hemoglobinopathies, excluding Thalassemia: Poster II
Sunday, December 8, 2013, 6:30 PM-8:30 PM
Hall E (Ernest N. Morial Convention Center)

Sergei A. Nekhai, PhD1, Namita Kumari, PhD1*, Denitra Breuer, PhD2*, Charlee Mclean, MS3*, Tatiana Ammosova, PhD1* and Subhash Dhawan, PhD4*

1Center for Sickle Cell Disease, Howard University, Washington, DC
2Sickle Cell Center, Howard University, Washington, DC
3Howard University, Washington, DC
4Division of Emerging & Transfusion Transmitted Diseases, Center for Biologics Evaluation & Research, Food and Drug Administration, Rockville, MD

Background.  Hypoxia and low iron induce hypoxia-induced factor 1(HIF-1) by stabilizing its alpha subunit and deregulate HIV-1 which transcription and several other steps of life cycle depend on cellular iron [1]. HIV-1 transcription is inhibited at low oxygen levels and reduced cellular iron through deregulation of CDK9/cyclin T1 and CDK2/cyclin E.  Sickle cell disease has low odds of ratio for HIV-1 infection [2].  Sickle cell disease (SCD) leads to hemolytic anemia which results in local ischemia and release of heme. Induction of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) by hemin was shown to inhibit HIV-1 [1], although the mechanism of the inhibition was not clarified.  Iron depletion by iron chelators or through the expression of ferroportin, an iron export protein, inhibits CDK2 and CDK9 activities and blocks HIV-1 transcription [1]. Because neither CDK2 nor CDK9 require iron for the enzymatic activity, we analyzed the expression of hypoxia and iron –dependent factors that may deregulate HIV-1 infection in SCD.

Results.Expression profiling followed by real-time PCR analysis showed induction of HO-1, p21, Erg-1, IKBα, HIF-1 and ferroportin mRNA and decrease of hepcidin mRNA in PBMCs from SCD patients. HIV-1 replication was reduced in SCD PBMCs comparing to normal controls, and also in THP1 cells treated with hemin. Subsequent treatment with hepcidin restored HIV-1 replication in SCD PBMC and in hemin-treated THP-1 cells, suggesting that ferroportin played a key role in the HIV-1 inhibition in these settings. Stable ferroportin knock down in THP-1 cells led to the inability of hemin to inhibit HIV-1, suggesting that ferroportin played a key role in the heme-meidated HIV-1 inhibition. Stable HIF-1a knockdown in promonocytic THP1 cells increased HIV replication suggesting that HIF1α is a restriction factor for HIV-1.  Iron chelators induced the expression of IKBα, an inhibitor of NF-kB and also induced the expression of HIF-1 and p21. Iron chelators also inhibited enzymatic activity of CDK2 and shifted CDK9/cyclin T1 from the large to the small complex making it unavailable for HIV-1 Tat recruitment. Hemin treatment induced expression of HO-1, ferroportin, IkBα, HIF1α and p21 thus mimicking the effect of iron chelators.

Conclusions. Hemolytic conditions of sickle cell disease upregulate hypoxia and iron regulatory pathways leading to refraction of HIV-1. Targeting cellular iron, ferroportin and HO-1 may lead to novel anti-HIV-1 therapeutics.

Acknowledgements. This project was supported by NIH Research Grants 1SC1GM082325, 2G12RR003048, and P30HL107253.


1.   Nekhai S, Kumari N, Dhawan S: Role of cellular iron and oxygen in the regulation of HIV-1 infection. Future Virol 2013, 8(3):301-311.

2.         Nouraie M, Nekhai S, Gordeuk VR: Sickle cell disease is associated with decreased HIV but higher HBV and HCV comorbidities in U.S. hospital discharge records: a cross-sectional study. Sex Transm Infect 2012, 88(7):528-533.

Disclosures: No relevant conflicts of interest to declare.

*signifies non-member of ASH