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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Molecular interactions of the type 1 human immunodeficiency virus transregulatory protein Tat with N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor subunits.

We investigated the effect of type 1 human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) regulatory protein Tat on N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors expressed in Xenopus oocytes by voltage-clamp recording and its role in NMDA-mediated neurotoxicity using cultured rat hippocampal neurons. Tat (0.01-1muM) potentiated NMDA-induced currents of recombinant NMDA receptors. However, in the presence of Zn(2+), the potentiating effect of Tat was much more pronounced, indicating an additional Zn(2+)-related effect on NMDA receptors. Consistently, Tat potentiated currents of the particularly Zn(2+)-sensitive NR1/ NR2A NMDA receptor with a higher efficacy, whereas currents from a Zn(2+)-insensitive mutant were only marginally augmented. In addition, chemical-modified Tat, deficient for metal binding, did not reverse Zn(2+)-mediated inhibition of NMDA responses, demonstrating that Tat disinhibits NMDA receptors from Zn(2+)-mediated antagonism by complexing the cation. We therefore investigated the interplay of Tat and Zn(2+) in NMDA-mediated neurotoxicity using cultures of rat hippocampal neurons. Zn(2+) exhibited a prominent rescuing effect when added together with the excitotoxicant NMDA, which could be reverted by the Zn(2+)-chelator tricine. Similar to tricine, Tat enhanced NMDA-mediated neurotoxicity in the presence of neuroprotective Zn(2+) concentrations. Double-staining with antibodies against Tat and the NR1 subunit of the NMDA receptor revealed partial colocalization of the immunoreactivities in membrane patches of hippocampal neurons, supporting the idea of a direct interplay between Tat and glutamatergic transmission. We therefore propose that release of Zn(2+)-mediated inhibition of NMDA receptors by HIV-1 Tat contributes to the neurotoxic effect of glutamate and may participate in the pathogenesis of AIDS-associated dementia.[1]


  1. Molecular interactions of the type 1 human immunodeficiency virus transregulatory protein Tat with N-methyl-d-aspartate receptor subunits. Chandra, T., Maier, W., König, H.G., Hirzel, K., Kögel, D., Schüler, T., Chandra, A., Demirhan, I., Laube, B. Neuroscience (2005) [Pubmed]
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