IRF7 expression correlates with HIV latency reversal upon specific blockade of immune activation

Front Immunol. 2022 Sep 5:13:1001068. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2022.1001068. eCollection 2022.


The persistence of latent HIV reservoirs allows for viral rebound upon antiretroviral therapy interruption, hindering effective HIV-1 cure. Emerging evidence suggests that modulation of innate immune stimulation could impact viral latency and contribute to the clearing of HIV reservoir. Here, the latency reactivation capacity of a subclass of selective JAK2 inhibitors was characterized as a potential novel therapeutic strategy for HIV-1 cure. Notably, JAK2 inhibitors reversed HIV-1 latency in non-clonal lymphoid and myeloid in vitro models of HIV-1 latency and also ex vivo in CD4+ T cells from ART+ PWH, albeit its function was not dependent on JAK2 expression. Immunophenotypic characterization and whole transcriptomic profiling supported reactivation data, showing common gene expression signatures between latency reactivating agents (LRA; JAK2i fedratinib and PMA) in contrast to other JAK inhibitors, but with significantly fewer affected gene sets in the pathway analysis. In depth evaluation of differentially expressed genes, identified a significant upregulation of IRF7 expression despite the blockade of the JAK-STAT pathway and downregulation of proinflammatory cytokines and chemokines. Moreover, IRF7 expression levels positively correlated with HIV latency reactivation capacity of JAK2 inhibitors and also other common LRAs. Collectively, these results represent a promising step towards HIV eradication by demonstrating the potential of innate immune modulation for reducing the viral reservoir through a novel pathway driven by IRF7.

Keywords: HIV-1 cure strategies; IRF7; JAK-STAT signalling; innate immunity; latency reversal agents.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cytokines / pharmacology
  • HIV Infections* / drug therapy
  • HIV-1*
  • Humans
  • Janus Kinase Inhibitors* / therapeutic use
  • Janus Kinases
  • STAT Transcription Factors
  • Signal Transduction
  • Virus Activation
  • Virus Latency


  • Cytokines
  • Janus Kinase Inhibitors
  • STAT Transcription Factors
  • Janus Kinases