HIV-1 Vpr Enhances PPARβ/δ-Mediated Transcription, Increases PDK4 Expression, and Reduces PDC Activity

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HIV infection and its therapy are associated with disorders of lipid metabolism and bioenergetics. Previous work has suggested that viral protein R (Vpr) may contribute to the development of lipodystrophy and insulin resistance observed in HIV-1–infected patients. In adipocytes, Vpr suppresses mRNA expression of peroxisomal proliferator-activating receptor-γ (PPARγ)-responsive genes and inhibits differentiation. We investigated whether Vpr might interact with PPARβ/δ and influence its transcriptional activity. In the presence of PPARβ/δ, Vpr induced a 3.3-fold increase in PPAR response element-driven transcriptional activity, a 1.9-fold increase in pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 4 (PDK4) protein expression, and a 1.6-fold increase in the phosphorylated pyruvate dehydrogenase subunit E1α leading to a 47% decrease in the activity of the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex in HepG2 cells. PPARβ/δ knockdown attenuated Vpr-induced enhancement of endogenous PPARβ/δ-responsive PDK4 mRNA expression. Vpr induced a 1.3-fold increase in mRNA expression of both carnitine palmitoyltransferase I (CPT1) and acetyl-coenzyme A acyltransferase 2 (ACAA2) and doubled the activity of β-hydroxylacyl coenzyme A dehydrogenase (HADH). Vpr physically interacted with the ligand-binding domain of PPARβ/δ in vitro and in vivo. Consistent with a role in energy expenditure, Vpr increased state-3 respiration in isolated mitochondria (1.16-fold) and basal oxygen consumption rate in intact HepG2 cells (1.2-fold) in an etomoxir-sensitive manner, indicating that the oxygen consumption rate increase is β-oxidation–dependent. The effects of Vpr on PPAR response element activation, pyruvate dehydrogenase complex activity, and β-oxidation were reversed by specific PPARβ/δ antagonists. These results support the hypothesis that Vpr contributes to impaired energy metabolism and increased energy expenditure in HIV patients.

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