Treatment of dopaminergic rat PC12 cells with human immunodeficiency virus, type 1 (HIV-1) Tat protein or tat cDNA inhibited the expression of tyrosine hydroxylase (TH), the rate-limiting enzyme for the dopamine biosynthetic pathway, as well as the production and release of dopamine into the culture medium. Moreover, the Tat addition to PC12 cells up-regulated the expression of the inducible cAMP early repressor (ICER), a specific member of the cAMP-responsive element modulator transcription factor family, in a cAMP-dependent manner. In turn, ICER overexpression abrogated the transcription activity of the TH promoter in PC12 cells, strongly suggesting ICER involvement in Tat-mediated inhibition of TH gene expression. In vivo injection of synthetic HIV-1 Tat protein into the striatum of healthy rats induced a subclinical Parkinson's-like disease that became manifested only when the animals were treated with amphetamine. As early as one week postinjection, the histochemical examination of the rat substantia nigra showed a reduced staining of neurons expressing TH followed by a loss of TH(+) neurons at later time points. As Tat protein can be locally released into the central nervous system by HIV-1-infected microglial cells, our findings may contribute to the explanation of the pathogenesis of the motorial abnormalities often reported in HIV-1 seropositive individuals.
HIV-1 Tat-mediated inhibition of the tyrosine hydroxylase gene expression in dopaminergic neuronal cells / ZAULI G.; SECCHIERO P.; RODELLA L.; GIBELLINI D.; MIRANDOLA P.; MAZZONI M.; MILANI D.; DOWD DR.; CAPITANI S.; VITALE M.. - In: THE JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY. - ISSN 0021-9258. - 275(2000), pp. 4159-4165. [10.1074/jbc.275.6.4159]