Research ArticleVIROLOGY

Inhibition of Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) facilitates the elimination of HIV-1 viral reservoirs in CD4+ T cells ex vivo

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Science Advances  15 Jul 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 29, eaba1941
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.aba1941


Although combination antiretroviral therapy is effective in controlling HIV-1 infection, latent HIV-1 proviruses cannot be eliminated. HIV-1 reactivation induced by the mere use of latency-reversing agents is insufficient to render death of reservoir cells, indicating that certain intrinsic survival mechanisms exist. We report that Polo-like kinase 1 (PLK1) plays a critical role in survival of CD4+ T cells that undergo HIV-1 reactivation from latency or de novo infection. PLK1 is elevated in both scenarios, which requires HIV-1 Nef. HIV-1 enhances PLK1 SUMOylation, causing its nuclear translocation and protein stabilization. Inhibition or knockdown of PLK1 markedly facilitates death of HIV-1-infected CD4+ T cells. Furthermore, PLK1 inhibitors strikingly reduce the size of HIV-1 latent reservoirs in primary CD4+ T cells. Our findings demonstrate that HIV-1 infection hijacks PLK1 to prevent cell death induced by viral cytopathic effects, and that PLK1 is a promising target for chemical “killing” of HIV-1 reservoir cells.

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