HIV Tat activates c-Jun amino-terminal kinase through an oxidant-dependent mechanism

Ying Gu, Ru Feng Wu, You Cheng Xu, Sonia C. Flores, Lance S. Terada

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


The HIV-1 accessory protein Tat has been found to exert profound effects on vascular cell behavior. Recently, Tat has been found to activate the c-Jun amino-terminal kinase (JNK1, SAPK) MAP kinase in lymphoid cells. We found that purified Tat rapidly activated JNK1 in human umbilical vein endothelial cells and ECV-304 cells, and coculture of ECV-304 cells with Tat-transfected HeLa cells resulted in persistent activation of JNK1. In addition, lower doses of Tat potentiated TNFα-induced JNK1 activation, although higher doses paradoxically diminished JNK1 activation by TNFα. Treatment of ECV-304 cells with Tat acutely increased intracellular oxidant levels, and Tat-induced oxidant activity was decreased by two structurally distinct NADPH oxidase inhibitors, diphenylene iodonium and apocynin. Both oxidase inhibitors and the thiol antioxidant N-acetyl cysteine decreased Tat-induced JNK1 activation in parallel with reduction in oxidant levels. Activation of JNK1 by Tat was also inhibited by cytochalasin B, suggesting that Tat signaling was dependent upon intact cytoskeletal function. Indeed, JNK1 activation by Tat was associated with actin microfilament rearrangement. We conclude that HIV Tat may cause acute and persistent activation of the JNK MAP kinase through activation of a specific oxidase.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)62-71
Number of pages10
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 20 2001


  • Angiogenesis
  • Cytoskeleton
  • JNK
  • MAP kinase
  • NADPH oxidase
  • Oxidants
  • SAPK
  • Superoxide
  • Vascular endothelium

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Virology


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