HIV-1 infection enhances HCV replication and as a consequence accelerates HCV-mediated hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, the precise molecular mechanism by which this takes place is currently unknown. Our data showed that infectious HIV-1 failed to replicate in human hepatocytic cell lines. No discernible virus replication was observed, even when the cell lines transfected with HIV-1 proviral DNA were co-cultured with Jurkat T cells, indicating that the problem of liver deterioration in the co-infected patient is not due to the replication of HIV-1 in the hepatocytes of the HCV infected host. Instead, HIV-1 Nef protein was transferred from nef-expressing T cells to hepatocytic cells through conduits, wherein up to 16% (average 10%) of the cells harbored the transferred Nef, when the hepatocytic cells were co-cultured with nef-expressing Jurkat cells for 24 h. Further, Nef altered the size and numbers of lipid droplets (LD), and consistently up-regulated HCV replication by 1.5 approximately 2.5 fold in the target subgenomic replicon cells, which is remarkable in relation to the initially indolent viral replication. Nef also dramatically augmented reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and enhanced ethanol-mediated up-regulation of HCV replication so as to accelerate HCC. Taken together, these data indicate that HIV-1 Nef is a critical element in accelerating progression of liver pathogenesis via enhancing HCV replication and coordinating modulation of key intra- and extra-cellular molecules for liver decay.
Park, I. W., Fan, Y., Luo, X., Ryou, M. G., Liu, J., Green, L., & He, J. J. (2014). HIV-1 Nef is transferred from expressing T cells to hepatocytic cells through conduits and enhances HCV replication. PLoS ONE, 9(6). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0099545