Cystatin B is a cysteine protease inhibitor that induces HIV replication in monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM). This protein interacts with signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT-1) factor and inhibits the interferon (IFN-β) response in Vero cells by preventing STAT-1 translocation to the nucleus. Cystatin B also decreases the levels of tyrosine-phosphorylated STAT-1 (STAT-1PY). However, the mechanisms of cystatin B regulation on STAT-1 phosphorylation in MDM are unknown. We hypothesized that cystatin B inhibits IFN-β antiviral responses and induces HIV replication in macrophage reservoirs through the inhibition of STAT-1 phosphorylation. Macrophages were transfected with cystatin B siRNA prior to interferon-β treatment or infected with HIV-ADA to determine the effect of cystatin B modulation in STAT-1 localization and activation using immunofluorescence and proximity ligation assays. Cystatin B decreased STAT-1PY and its transportation to the nucleus, while HIV infection retained unphosphorylated STAT (USTAT-1) in the nucleus avoiding its exit to the cytoplasm for eventual phosphorylation. In IFN-β-treated MDM, cystatin B inhibited the nuclear translocation of both, USTAT-1 and STAT-1PY. These results demonstrate that cystatin B interferes with the STAT-1 signaling and IFN-β-antiviral responses perpetuating HIV in macrophage reservoirs.
Keywords: Cystatin B; HIV; IFN-β; Macrophages; STAT-1.