Endolysosome involvement in HIV-1 transactivator protein-induced neuronal amyloid beta production

Xuesong Chen, Liang Hui, Nicholas H. Geiger, Norman J. Haughey, Jonathan D. Geiger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


The increased life expectancy of people living with HIV-1/AIDS is accompanied by increased prevalence of HIV-1-associated neurocognitive disorder. As well, these individuals are increasingly experiencing Alzheimer's disease (AD)-like neurocognitive problems and neuropathological features such as increased deposition of amyloid beta (Aβ) protein. Findings that Aβ production occurs largely in endolysosomes, that HIV-1 transactivator protein (Tat) disrupts endolysosome function-an early pathological feature of AD-and that HIV-1 Tat can increase Aβ levels prompted us to test the hypothesis that endolysosome dysfunction is associated with HIV-1 Tat-induced increases in neuronal Aβ generation. Using primary cultured rat hippocampal neurons, we found that treatment with HIV-1 Tat caused such morphological changes as enlargement of endolysosomes identified with LysoTracker dye and such functional changes as elevated endolysosome pH measured ratiometrically with LysoSensor dye. The HIV-1 Tat-induced changes in endolysosome function preceded temporally HIV-1 Tat-induced increases in Aβ generation measured using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. In addition, we demonstrated that HIV-1 Tat increased endolysosome accumulation of Aβ precursor protein and Aβ identified using immunostaining with 4G8 antibodies. Furthermore, we demonstrated that treatment of neurons with HIV-1 Tat increased endolysosome accumulation of beta amyloid-converting enzyme, the rate-limiting enzymatic step for Aβ production, and enhanced beta amyloid-converting enzyme activity. Together, our findings suggest that HIV-1 Tat increases neuronal Aβ generation and thereby contributes to the development of AD-like pathology in HIV-1-infected individuals by disturbing endolysosome structure and function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2370-2378
Number of pages9
JournalNeurobiology of aging
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2013


  • Amyloid beta
  • BACE-1
  • Endolysosome
  • HIV-1 Tat
  • pH

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Aging
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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