HIV-1 Matrix Protein p17 Promotes Lymphangiogenesis and Activates the Endothelin-1/Endothelin B Receptor Axis
Objective—AIDS-related lymphomas are high grade and aggressively metastatic with poor prognosis. Lymphangiogenesis is essential in supporting proliferation and survival of lymphoma, as well as tumor dissemination. Data suggest that aberrant lymphangiogenesis relies on action of HIV-1 proteins rather than on a direct effect of the virus itself. HIV-1 matrix protein p17 was found to accumulate and persist in lymph nodes of patients even under highly active antiretroviral therapy. Because p17 was recently found to exert a potent proangiogenic activity by interacting with chemokine (C-X-C motif) receptors 1 and 2, we tested the prolymphangiogenic activity of the viral protein.
Approach and Results—Human primary lymph node–derived lymphatic endothelial cells were used to perform capillary-like structure formation, wound healing, spheroids, and Western blot assays after stimulation with or without p17. Here, we show that p17 promotes lymphangiogenesis by binding to chemokine (C-X-C motif) receptor-1 and chemokine (C-X-C motif) receptor-2 expressed on lymph node–derived lymphatic endothelial cells and activating the Akt/extracellular signal–regulated kinase signaling pathway. In particular, it was found to induce capillary-like structure formation, sprout formation from spheroids, and increase lymph node–derived lymphatic endothelial cells motility. The p17 lymphangiogenic activity was, in part, sustained by activation of the endothelin-1/endothelin receptor B axis. A Matrigel plug assay showed that p17 was able to promote the outgrowth of lymphatic vessels in vivo, demonstrating that p17 directly regulates lymphatic vessel formation.
Conclusions—Our results suggest that p17 may generate a prolymphangiogenic microenvironment and plays a role in predisposing the lymph node to lymphoma growth and metastasis. This finding offers new opportunities to identify treatment strategies in combating AIDS-related lymphomas.
- Received September 10, 2013.
- Accepted January 19, 2014.
- © 2014 American Heart Association, Inc.