Synergistic Reactivation of Latent HIV Expression by Ingenol-3-Angelate, PEP005, Targeted NF-kB Signaling in Combination with JQ1 Induced p-TEFb Activation

PLoS Pathog. 2015 Jul 30;11(7):e1005066. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1005066. eCollection 2015 Jul.


Although anti-retroviral therapy (ART) is highly effective in suppressing HIV replication, it fails to eradicate the virus from HIV-infected individuals. Stable latent HIV reservoirs are rapidly established early after HIV infection. Therefore, effective strategies for eradication of the HIV reservoirs are urgently needed. We report that ingenol-3-angelate (PEP005), the only active component in a previously FDA approved drug (PICATO) for the topical treatment of precancerous actinic keratosis, can effectively reactivate latent HIV in vitro and ex vivo with relatively low cellular toxicity. Biochemical analysis showed that PEP005 reactivated latent HIV through the induction of the pS643/S676-PKCδ/θ-IκBα/ε-NF-κB signaling pathway. Importantly, PEP005 alone was sufficient to induce expression of fully elongated and processed HIV RNAs in primary CD4+ T cells from HIV infected individuals receiving suppressive ART. Furthermore, PEP005 and the P-TEFb agonist, JQ1, exhibited synergism in reactivation of latent HIV with a combined effect that is 7.5-fold higher than the effect of PEP005 alone. Conversely, PEP005 suppressed HIV infection of primary CD4+ T cells through down-modulation of cell surface expression of HIV co-receptors. This anti-cancer compound is a potential candidate for advancing HIV eradication strategies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Azepines / administration & dosage
  • Azepines / pharmacology*
  • Diterpenes / administration & dosage
  • Diterpenes / pharmacology*
  • HIV Infections / drug therapy*
  • HIV-1 / drug effects
  • Humans
  • I-kappa B Proteins / pharmacology
  • NF-KappaB Inhibitor alpha
  • NF-kappa B / metabolism*
  • Positive Transcriptional Elongation Factor B / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*
  • T-Lymphocytes / drug effects
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • Triazoles / administration & dosage
  • Triazoles / pharmacology*
  • Virus Activation / drug effects
  • Virus Latency / drug effects*


  • (+)-JQ1 compound
  • 3-ingenyl angelate
  • Azepines
  • Diterpenes
  • I-kappa B Proteins
  • NF-kappa B
  • NFKBIA protein, human
  • Triazoles
  • NF-KappaB Inhibitor alpha
  • Positive Transcriptional Elongation Factor B