Effects of HIV-1 Tat on oligodendrocyte viability are mediated by CaMKIIβ-GSK3β interactions

J Neurochem. 2019 Apr;149(1):98-110. doi: 10.1111/jnc.14668. Epub 2019 Mar 15.


Myelin disruptions are frequently reported in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals and can occur in the CNS very early in the disease process. Immature oligodendrocytes (OLs) are quite sensitive to toxic increases in [Ca2+ ]i caused by exposure to HIV-1 Tat (transactivator of transcription, a protein essential for HIV replication and gene expression), but sensitivity to Tat-induced [Ca2+ ]i is reduced in mature OLs. Tat exposure also increased the activity of Ca2+ /calmodulin-dependent kinase IIβ (CaMKIIβ), the major isoform of CaMKII expressed by OLs, in both immature and mature OLs. Since CaMKIIβ is reported to interact with glycogen synthase kinase 3β (GSK3β), and GSK3β activity is implicated in OL apoptosis as well as HIV neuropathology, we hypothesized that disparate effects of Tat on OL viability with maturity might be because of an altered balance of CaMKIIβ-GSK3β activities. Tat expression in vivo led to increased CaMKIIβ and GSK3β activity in multiple brain regions in transgenic mice. In vitro, immature murine OLs expressed higher levels of GSK3β, but much lower levels of CaMKIIβ, than did mature OLs. Exogenous Tat up-regulated GSK3β activity in immature, but not mature, OLs. Tat-induced death of immature OLs was rescued by the GSK3β inhibitors valproic acid or SB415286, supporting involvement of GSK3β signaling. Pharmacologically inhibiting CaMKIIβ increased GSK3β activity in Tat-treated OLs, and genetically knocking down CaMKIIβ promoted death in mature OL cultures treated with Tat. Together, these results suggest that the effects of Tat on OL viability are dependent on CaMKIIβ-GSK3β interactions, and that increasing CaMKIIβ activity is a potential approach for limiting OL/myelin injury with HIV infection.

Keywords: calcium; cell death; cortex; hippocampus; myelination; neuroAIDS; striatum.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Cell Survival
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta / metabolism*
  • HIV Infections / metabolism*
  • HIV Infections / pathology
  • HIV-1
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Oligodendroglia / metabolism*
  • Oligodendroglia / pathology
  • tat Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus / metabolism*


  • tat Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus
  • Glycogen Synthase Kinase 3 beta
  • Gsk3b protein, mouse
  • Calcium-Calmodulin-Dependent Protein Kinase Type 2