Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors (HDACis) have been widely tested in clinical trials for their ability to reverse HIV latency but have yielded only limited success. One HDACi, suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA), exhibits off-target effects on host gene expression predicted to interfere with induction of HIV transcription. Romidepsin (RMD) has higher potency and specificity for class I HDACs implicated in maintaining HIV provirus in the latent state. More robust HIV reactivation has indeed been achieved with RMD use ex vivo than with SAHA; however, reduction of viral reservoir size has not been observed in clinical trials. Therefore, using RNA-Seq, we sought to compare the effects of SAHA and RMD on gene expression in primary CD4+ T cells. Among the genes whose expression was modulated by both HDACi agents, we identified genes previously implicated in HIV latency. Two genes, SMARCB1 and PARP1, whose modulation by SAHA and RMD is predicted to inhibit HIV reactivation, were evaluated in the major maturation subsets of CD4+ T cells and were consistently either up- or down-regulated by both HDACi compounds. Our results indicate that despite having different potencies and HDAC specificities, SAHA and RMD modulate an overlapping set of genes, implicated in HIV latency regulation. Some of these genes merit exploration as additional targets to improve the therapeutic outcomes of "shock and kill" strategies. The overall complexity of HDACi-induced responses among host genes with predicted stimulatory or inhibitory effects on HIV expression likely contributes to differential HDACi potencies and dictates the outcome of HIV reactivation.
Keywords: SAHA; T cell; drug action; gene expression; histone deacetylase inhibitor (HDAC inhibitor) (HDI); human immunodeficiency virus (HIV); latency reversal; maturation phenotypes; primary CD4+ T cell; romidepsin; transcription regulation; transcriptomics.
© 2019 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.