CRISPR-based gene knockout screens reveal deubiquitinases involved in HIV-1 latency in two Jurkat cell models

Sci Rep. 2020 Mar 24;10(1):5350. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-62375-3.


The major barrier to a HIV-1 cure is the persistence of latent genomes despite treatment with antiretrovirals. To investigate host factors which promote HIV-1 latency, we conducted a genome-wide functional knockout screen using CRISPR-Cas9 in a HIV-1 latency cell line model. This screen identified IWS1, POLE3, POLR1B, PSMD1, and TGM2 as potential regulators of HIV-1 latency, of which PSMD1 and TMG2 could be confirmed pharmacologically. Further investigation of PSMD1 revealed that an interacting enzyme, the deubiquitinase UCH37, was also involved in HIV-1 latency. We therefore conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the deubiquitinase family by gene knockout, identifying several deubiquitinases, UCH37, USP14, OTULIN, and USP5 as possible HIV-1 latency regulators. A specific inhibitor of USP14, IU1, reversed HIV-1 latency and displayed synergistic effects with other latency reversal agents. IU1 caused degradation of TDP-43, a negative regulator of HIV-1 transcription. Collectively, this study is the first comprehensive evaluation of deubiquitinases in HIV-1 latency and establishes that they may hold a critical role.

Publication types

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