Original Investigation


, Volume 231, Issue 11, pp 2349-2360

Anxiety-like behavior of mice produced by conditional central expression of the HIV-1 regulatory protein, Tat

  • Jason J. ParisAffiliated withTorrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies
  • , Harminder D. SinghAffiliated withTorrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies
  • , Michelle L. GannoAffiliated withTorrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies
  • , Pauline JacksonAffiliated withTorrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies
  • , Jay P. McLaughlinAffiliated withTorrey Pines Institute for Molecular Studies Email author 

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Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is associated with substantial increases in generalized anxiety. The HIV regulatory protein, transactivator of transcription (Tat), has been implicated in the neuropathogenesis related to HIV-1 infection. However, direct examination of the effect of Tat on behavioral measures of anxiety has not been demonstrated.


To identify whether expression of the Tat1-86 protein exerts dose-dependent and persistent anxiety-like effects in a whole animal model, the GT-tg bigenic mouse.


GT-tg mice and C57BL/6J controls were administered doxycycline in a dose- (0, 50, 100, or 125 mg/kg, i.p., for 7 days) or duration- (100 mg/kg, i.p., for 0, 1, 3, 5, or 14 days) dependent manner to induce Tat1-86 in brain. Mice were assessed for anxiety-like behavior in an open field, social interaction, or marble burying task 0, 7, and/or 14 days later. Central expression of Tat1-86 protein was verified with Western blot analyses.


Doxycycline produced no effects on C57BL/6J controls that lacked the Tat1-86 transgene. Among GT-tg mice, doxycycline (100 mg/kg for 3, 5, or 7 days) significantly increased anxiety-like behavior in all tasks, commensurate with enhanced Western blot labeling of Tat1-86 protein in brain, displaying optimal effects with the 7-day regimen. Greater exposure to doxycycline (either 125 mg/kg for 7 days or 100 mg/kg for 14 days) impaired locomotor behavior; whereas lower dosing (below 100 mg/kg) produced only transient increases in anxiety-like behavior.


Expression of HIV-1-Tat1-86 in GT-tg mouse brain produces exposure-dependent, persistent increases in anxiety-like behavior.


GT-tg bigenic HIV-associated neurocognitive disorder NeuroAIDS Open field Marble burying Transactivator of transcription Transcriptional activator Strain differences Social interactions