Concerted action of numerous positively acting cellular factors is essential for Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) replication but in turn is challenged by anti-viral restriction factors. Previously we showed that ex vivo one round HIV-1 replication and replication of fully competent T-tropic HIV-1(IIIB) is significantly reduced in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) obtained from patients with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD). Further, we identified and confirmed CDKN1A (p21) and CH25H as host restriction factors expressed in SCD PBMCs that may contribute to the HIV-1 inhibition, in addition to the previously reported SAMHD1 and IKBα. Since CH25H is an interferon stimulated gene (ISG), we analyzed IRFs and interferon expression in SCD PBMCs. Higher levels of IRF7 and IFNβ mRNA were observed in SCD PBMCs compared to controls. We probed further to ascertain if hemin or sickle Hb was responsible for interferon response. We found upregulation of IFNβ in THP-1 - derived macrophages treated with lysates of HbSS RBCs or purified HbS as compared to untreated or HbA treated controls. HbSS RBCs lysates and purified HbS inhibited HIV-1 gag
mRNA expression in monocyte-derived macrophages infected with HIV-1(Ba-L). Recent clinical study showed increased levels of CD4 in HIV-1 infected SCD patients in Africa. Thus we analyzed CD4 levels in HIV-1 IIIB infected SCD PBMCs, and found them to be higher compared to controls. Levels of HIV-1 nef
mRNA, that controls CD4 expression was lower in HIV-1 IIIB infected SCD PBMCs. As Nef counteracts SERINC3/5 restriction factor, we analyzed its expression as well as the expression of AP2 clathrin adaptor that is required for Nef mediated internalization of CD4. AP2 expression was lower and SERINC5 expression was higher in SCD PBMCs.
CONCLUSIONS: SCD PBMCs could resist HIV-1 infection because of the increased IFNβ production by macrophages exposed to HbSS or sickle cell RBCs. SCD PBMC have increased levels of SERNIC5 and lower levels of HIV-1 Nef and host AP2 expression that, culumlatively, can increased CD4 levels and lead to the overall improved immunological health of SCD patients.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS: This work was supported by NIH Research Grants (1P50HL118006, 1R01HL125005, 1SC1HL150685, 5U54MD007597, 1UM1AI26617 and P30AI087714). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.