Impact of APOL1 polymorphism and IL-1β priming in the entry and persistence of HIV-1 in human podocytes

Joanna Mikulak, Ferdinando Oriolo, Federica Portale, Paolo Tentorio, Xiqian Lan, Moin A Saleem, Karl Skorecki, Pravin C Singhal, Domenico Mavilio

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BACKGROUND: Patients of African ancestry with untreated HIV-1 infection and carrying the G1 or G2 kidney disease risk variants (Vs) at the APOL1 gene have a tenfold higher risk of developing HIV-associated nephropathy (HIVAN) compared to those with the non-risk wild type (WT) G0 variant. However, the mechanistic contribution of the APOL1 allelic state to kidney injury in HIV-1 infection remains to be elucidated.

RESULTS: Non-risk WT APOL1 is associated with lower intracellular levels of HIV-1 in conditionally immortalized human podocytes, while the over expression of G1 or G2 risk Vs significantly increases viral accumulation. The priming of podocytes with exogenous IL-1β facilitates HIV-1 entry, via the up-regulation of DC-SIGN. The over expression of APOL1 G1 and G2 risk Vs in combination with an increase in IL-1β levels causes a greater increase in viral concentration than either condition alone. In turn, HIV-1 and exogenous IL-1β together induce a de novo secretion of endogenous IL-1β and an increase of APOL1 gene expression.

CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that the presence of risk Vs of APOL1 is permissive of HIV-1 persistence in human podocytes in synergy with IL-1β, a cytokine that characterizes the inflammatory milieu of acute and chronic phases of HIV-1 infection. The elucidation of these molecular mechanisms explains, at least in part, the higher frequency of HIVAN in populations carrying the risk polymorphic genetic variant of APOL1 gene.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)63
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Sept 2016


  • Journal Article


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