The inhibitory efficacy of RNA POL III-expressed long hairpin RNAs targeted to untranslated regions of the HIV-1 5' long terminal repeat

Oligonucleotides. Winter 2007;17(4):419-31. doi: 10.1089/oli.2007.0095.


Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is a lentivirus that causes persistent infection resulting in the demise of immune regulatory cells, and ensuing diseases associated with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS). Although current therapeutic modalities have had a significant impact on mortality rates, novel therapies are constantly needed to prevent the emergence of resistant viral variants that escape the effects of antivirals. RNA Interference (RNAi) is a promising therapeutic modality for the inhibition of HIV-1 RNAs. Traditionally, RNAi effector sequences include expressed short hairpin RNAs (shRNAs) or short interfering RNAs (siRNAs). Recently, expressed long hairpin RNAs (lhRNAs) have been used with the aim of generating multiple independent siRNAs, which simultaneously target different susceptible sites on HIV-1. Here, modified lhRNAs expressed from U6 RNA Pol III promoters were targeted to sites within the first transcribed sequences of the HIV-1 5' long terminal repeat (LTR) region. Both Tat-dependent and independent suppressive efficacy was demonstrated against subtype B and C reporter sequences; however, lhRNAs complementary to the TAR stem-loop were refractory to silencing. None of the lhRNAs induced an unwanted interferon response as measured by interferon beta levels. Silencing by the lhRNAs was not equal across the extent of its cognate sequence, with the greatest efficacy observed for sequences located at the base of the stem. Nevertheless, direct antireplicative activity was seen when targeting lhRNAs to a subtype B HIV clone pNL4-3 Luc and a subtype C wild-type HIV-1 strain, FV5. These data highlight distinct target loci within the 5' LTR of HIV-1 that are susceptible to lhRNA targeting, and may prove to have an important advantage over other RNAi target sites within HIV-1. Although lhRNAs themselves require further manipulation to improve their overall efficacy in generating multiple functioning siRNAs, they may prove useful in any combinatorial-based approach to treating HIV-1 infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Cell Line
  • HIV Long Terminal Repeat*
  • HIV-1 / genetics*
  • HIV-1 / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Interferon-beta / biosynthesis
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • RNA Interference*
  • RNA Polymerase III / genetics
  • RNA Polymerase III / metabolism
  • RNA, Antisense / genetics*
  • RNA, Antisense / metabolism
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • RNA, Small Interfering / metabolism
  • Transfection
  • Untranslated Regions


  • RNA, Antisense
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Untranslated Regions
  • Interferon-beta
  • RNA Polymerase III