HIV-1 Tat protein mimicry of chemokines.
The HIV-1 Tat protein is a potent chemoattractant for monocytes. We observed that Tat shows conserved amino acids corresponding to critical sequences of the chemokines, a family of molecules known for their potent ability to attract monocytes. Synthetic Tat and a peptide (CysL24-51) encompassing the "chemokine-like" region of Tat induced a rapid and transient Ca2+ influx in monocytes and macrophages, analogous to beta-chemokines. Both monocyte migration and Ca2+ mobilization were pertussis toxin sensitive and cholera toxin insensitive. Cross-desensitization studies indicated that Tat shares receptors with MCP-1, MCP-3, and eotaxin. Tat was able to displace binding of beta-chemokines from the beta-chemokine receptors CCR2 and CCR3, but not CCR1, CCR4, and CCR5. Direct receptor binding experiments with the CysL24-51 peptide confirmed binding to cells transfected with CCR2 and CCR3. HIV-1 Tat appears to mimic beta-chemokine features, which may serve to locally recruit chemokine receptor-expressing monocytes/macrophages toward HIV producing cells and facilitate activation and infection.