Host Cell Redox Alterations Promote Latent HIV-1 Reactivation through Atypical Transcription Factor Cooperativity

Emily Cruz-Lorenzo, Nora Guadalupe P. Ramirez, Jeon Lee, Sonali Pandhe, Lei Wang, Juan Hernandez-Doria, Adam M. Spivak, Vicente Planelles, Tianna Petersen, Mamta K. Jain, Elisabeth D. Martinez, Iván D’Orso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Immune cell state alterations rewire HIV-1 gene expression, thereby influencing viral latency and reactivation, but the mechanisms are still unfolding. Here, using a screen approach on CD4+ T cell models of HIV-1 latency, we revealed Small Molecule Reactivators (SMOREs) with unique chemistries altering the CD4+ T cell state and consequently promoting latent HIV-1 transcription and reactivation through an unprecedented mechanism of action. SMOREs triggered rapid oxidative stress and activated a redox-responsive program composed of cell-signaling kinases (MEK-ERK axis) and atypical transcription factor (AP-1 and HIF-1α) cooperativity. SMOREs induced an unusual AP-1 phosphorylation signature to promote AP-1/HIF-1α binding to the latent HIV-1 proviral genome for its activation. Consistently, latent HIV-1 reactivation was compromised with pharmacologic inhibition of oxidative stress sensing or of cell-signaling kinases, and transcription factor’s loss of expression, thus functionally linking the host redox-responsive program to viral transcriptional rewiring. Notably, SMOREs induced the redox program in primary CD4+ T cells and reactivated latent HIV-1 in aviremic patient samples alone and in combination with known latency-reversing agents, thus providing physiological relevance. Our findings suggest that manipulation of redox-sensitive pathways could be exploited to alter the course of HIV-1 latency, thus rendering host cells responsive to help achieve a sterilizing cure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2288
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2022


  • HIV-1
  • cell signaling
  • latency
  • latency reversing agents
  • reactivation
  • transcription factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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