Journal of NeuroVirology

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 141–151 | Cite as

Apoptotic death of striatal neurons induced by human immunodeficiency virus-1 Tat and gp120: Differential involvement of caspase-3 and endonuclease G

  • Indrapal N. Singh
  • Robin J. Goody
  • Celeste Dean
  • Nael M. Ahmad
  • Sarah E. Lutz
  • Pamela E. Knapp
  • Avindra Nath
  • Kurt F. Hauser


Human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) infection affects the striatum, resulting in gliosis and neuronal losses. To determine whether HIV-1 proteins induce striatal neurotoxicity through an apoptotic mechanism, mouse striatal neurons isolated on embryonic day 15 and the effects of HIV-1 Tat1–72 and gp120 on survival were assessed in vitro. Mitochondrial release of cytochrome c, caspase-3 activation, and neuron survival, as well as an alternative apoptotic pathway involving endonuclease G (endo G), were assessed at 4 h, 24 h, 48 h, and/or 72 h using enzyme assays and immunoblotting. Both HIV-1 Tat and gp120 significantly increased caspase-3 activation in a concentration-dependent manner in striatal neurons at 4 h following continuous exposure in vitro. Tat1–72 and gp120 caused significant neuronal losses at 48 h and/or 72 h. Tat1–72 increased cytochrome c release, and caspase-3 and endo G activation at 4 h, 24 h, and/or 72 h. By contrast, gp120 increased caspase-3 activation, but failed to increase cytochrome c or endo G levels in the cytoplasm at 4 h, 24 h, and/or 72 h. The cell permeant caspase inhibitor Z-DEVD-FMK significantly attenuated gp120-induced, but not Tat1–72-induced, neuronal death, suggesting that gp120 acts in large part through the activation of caspase(s), whereas Tat1–72-induced neurotoxicity was accompanied by activating an alternative pathway involving endo G. Thus, although Tat1–72 and gp120 induced significant neurotoxicity, the nature of the apoptotic events preceding death differed. Collectively, our findings suggest that HIV-1 proteins are intrinsically toxic to striatal neurons and the pathogenesis is mediated through separate actions involving both caspase-3 and endo G.


caspase-3 cytochrome c endonuclease G neurotoxicity 


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Copyright information

© Journal of NeuroVirology, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Indrapal N. Singh
    • 1
  • Robin J. Goody
    • 1
  • Celeste Dean
    • 1
  • Nael M. Ahmad
    • 1
  • Sarah E. Lutz
    • 1
  • Pamela E. Knapp
    • 1
  • Avindra Nath
    • 2
  • Kurt F. Hauser
    • 1
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Anatomy and NeurobiologyUniversity of Kentucky College of MedicineLexingtonUSA
  2. 2.Department of NeurologyJohns Hopkins University School of MedicineBaltimoreUSA
  3. 3.Markey Cancer CenterUniversity of Kentucky Medical CenterLexingtonUSA

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