The Biochemical journal 2017 05 03() pii 10.1042/BCJ20160825
Murine double minute 2 (Mdm2) is known to enhance the transactivation potential of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) Tat protein by ubiquitinating it. However, the regulation of Mdm2 during HIV-1 infection and its implications on viral replication have not been well studied. Here, we show that the Mdm2 protein level increases during HIV-1 infection and this effect is mediated by HIV-1 Tat protein. Tat appears to stabilise Mdm2 at the post-translational level by inducing its phosphorylation at serine-166 position through AKT. Although p53 is one of the key players for Mdm2 induction, Tat-mediated stabilisation of Mdm2 appears to be independent of p53. Moreover, the non-phosphorylatable mutant of Mdm2 (S166A) fails to interact with Tat and shows decreased half-life in the presence of Tat when compared to wild-type Mdm2. Furthermore, the non-phosphorylatable mutant of Mdm2 (S166A) is unable to support HIV-1 replication. Thus, HIV-1 Tat appears to stabilise Mdm2, which in turn enhances Tat-mediated viral replication. This study highlights the importance of post-translational modifications of host cellular factors in HIV-1 replication and pathogenesis.