PloS one 2017 10 0212(10) e0185677 doi 10.1371/journal.pone.0185677
HIV-1 induces changes in the miRNA expression profile of infected CD4+ T cells that could improve viral replication. HIV-1 regulator Tat modifies the cellular gene expression and has been appointed as an RNA silencing suppressor. Tat is a 101-residue protein codified by two exons that regulates the elongation of viral transcripts. The first exon of Tat (amino acids 1-72) forms the transcriptionally active protein Tat72, but the presence of the second exon (amino acids 73-101) results in a more competent regulatory protein (Tat101) with additional functions. Intracellular, full-length Tat101 induces functional and morphological changes in CD4+ T cells that contribute to HIV-1 pathogenesis such as delay in T-cell proliferation and protection against FasL-mediated apoptosis. But the precise mechanism by which Tat produces these changes remains unknown. We analyzed how the stable expression of intracellular Tat101 and Tat72 modified the miRNA expression profile in Jurkat cells and if this correlated with changes in apoptotic pathways and cell cycle observed in Tat-expressing cells. Specifically, the enhanced expression of hsa-miR-21 and hsa-miR-222 in Jurkat-Tat101 cells was associated with the reduced expression of target mRNAs encoding proteins related to apoptosis and cell cycle such as PTEN, PDCD4 and CDKN1B. We developed Jurkat cells with stable expression of hsa-miR-21 or hsa-miR-222 and observed a similar pattern to Jurkat-Tat101 in resistance to FasL-mediated apoptosis, cell cycle arrest in G2/M and altered cell morphology. Consequently, upregulation of hsa-miR-21 and hsa-miR-222 by Tat may contribute to protect against apoptosis and to anergy observed in HIV-infected CD4+ T cells.