Human immunodeficiency virus-type 1 (HIV-1) infection is characterized by a chronic state of immune hyperactivation in patients. Infection of human peripheral blood lymphocytes with HIV-1 in vitro resulted in increased in terleukin-2 (IL-2) secretion in response to T cell activation via the CD3 and CD28 receptors. Expression of the HIV-1 transactivator Tat recapitulated this phenotype and was associated with increased IL-2 secretion in response to costimulation with CD3 plus CD28. IL-2 superinduction by Tat occurred at the transcriptional level, was mediated by the CD28-responsive element in the IL- 2 promoter, and was exclusively dependent on the 29 amino acids encoded by the second exon of Tat.
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