The p17 matrix protein of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) plays a crucial role in AIDS pathogenesis. It orchestrates viral assembly and directs the preintegration complex to the nucleus of infected cells. Recently, the three-dimensional structure of p17 was shown to resemble that of interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma), suggesting that both proteins might share analogous functions. We demonstrate that in monocytes, p17 shares with IFN-gamma the ability to induce 1alpha-hydroxylase activity and to activate fructose 1,6-bisphosphatase gene expression in the presence of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3. However, p17 does not bind to the IFN-gamma cell membrane receptor and fails to increase expression of IFN-gamma-induced proteins, such as tryptophanyl-tRNA synthetase, Fc gammaRI, and HLA DR or B7/BB1 antigens. Altogether, our results raise the possibility that the structural resemblance between p17 and IFN-gamma causes the selective activation of a common pathway resulting in the production of 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D3. We also found that unlike IFN-gamma, p17 increases the intracellular ATP content. Since transport of the HIV-1 preintegration complex through the nuclear membrane is an ATP-dependent process, our observation suggests that p17 plays a double role in this active transport, not only by acting as a chaperone molecule but also by recruiting the necessary energy for this process.