Journal of neurovirology 2017 11 15() doi 10.1007/s13365-017-0598-9
HIV-1 Tat is known to be neurotoxic and important for HIV/neuroAIDS pathogenesis. However, the overwhelming majority of the studies involved use of recombinant Tat protein. To understand the contributions of Tat protein to HIV/neuroAIDS and the underlying molecular mechanisms of HIV-1 Tat neurotoxicity in the context of a whole organism and independently of HIV-1 infection, a doxycycline-inducible astrocyte-specific HIV-1 Tat transgenic mouse (iTat) was created. Tat expression in the brains of iTat mice was determined to be in the range of 1-5 ng/ml and led to astrocytosis, loss of neuronal dendrites, and neuroinflammation. iTat mice have allowed us to define the direct effects of Tat on astrocytes and the molecular mechanisms of Tat-induced GFAP expression/astrocytosis, astrocyte-mediated Tat neurotoxicity, Tat-impaired neurogenesis, Tat-induced loss of neuronal integrity, and exosome-associated Tat release and uptake. In this review, we will provide an overview about the creation and characterization of this model and its utilities for our understanding of Tat neurotoxicity and the underlying molecular mechanisms.