Detection of HIV-1 Tat and JCV capsid protein, VP1, in AIDS brain with progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy

J Neurovirol. 2000 Jun;6(3):221-8. doi: 10.3109/13550280009015824.


HIV-1 infection can lead to severe central nervous system (CNS) clinical syndromes in more than 50% of HIV-1 positive individuals. Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) is the frequent opportunistic infection of the CNS which is seen in as high as 5% of AIDS patients. Results from previous cell culture studies showed that the HIV-1 regulatory protein, Tat can potentiate transcription of the human neurotropic virus, JCV, the causative agent for PML in cells derived from the human CNS. In this communication we examine the presence of the HIV-1 regulatory protein, Tat, as well as the HIV-1 and JCV structural proteins, p24 and VP1, respectively in AIDS/PML clinical samples. We demonstrate high level expression of the JCV capsid protein, VP1, in oligodendrocytes and to some degree in astrocytes of AIDS with PML. In HIV-1+ samples expression of HIV-1 core protein, p24 was detected in perivascular monocytic cells and to a lesser extent in astrocytes and endothelial cells. A lack of p24 expression in oligodendrocytes suggested no infection of these cells with HIV-1. Interestingly, HIV-1 Tat was detected in various infected cells as well as in uninfected oligodendrocytes from HIV-1+ tissue, supporting the earlier in vitro findings that secreted Tat from the infected cells can be localized in the neighboring uninfected cells. The presence of Tat in oligodendrocytes was particularly interesting as this protein can up-modulate JCV gene transcription and several key cell cycle regulatory proteins including cyclin E, Cdk2, and pRb. The data presented here provide in vivo evidence for a role of HIV-1 Tat in the pathogenesis of AIDS/PML by acting as a positive regulatory protein that affects the expression of JCV and other cell regulatory proteins in the CNS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / complications
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / pathology
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / virology*
  • Adult
  • Astrocytes / virology
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain / virology*
  • Capsid Proteins*
  • Capsid*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Gene Products, tat / analysis*
  • HIV Core Protein p24 / analysis
  • HIV-1* / pathogenicity
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • JC Virus* / genetics
  • Leukoencephalopathy, Progressive Multifocal / virology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oligodendroglia / virology
  • tat Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus


  • Capsid Proteins
  • Gene Products, tat
  • HIV Core Protein p24
  • VP1 protein, polyomavirus
  • tat Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus