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Evidence for IFNα-induced, SAMHD1-independent inhibitors of early HIV-1 infection

Caroline Goujon1, Torsten Schaller1, Rui Pedro Galão1, Sarah M Amie2, Baek Kim2, Kevin Olivieri3, Stuart JD Neil1 and Michael H Malim1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Infectious Diseases, King’s College London, 2nd Floor, Borough Wing, Guy’s Hospital, London Bridge, London SE1 9RT, UK

2 Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Rochester Medical, Rochester, USA

3 Infectious and Inflammatory Disease Center, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, La Jolla, USA

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Retrovirology 2013, 10:23  doi:10.1186/1742-4690-10-23

Published: 25 February 2013



Type I interferon (IFN) treatment of some cells, including dendritic cells, macrophages and monocytic THP-1 cells, restricts HIV-1 infection and prevents viral cDNA accumulation. Sterile alpha motif and HD domain protein 1 (SAMHD1), a dGTP-regulated deoxynucleotide triphosphohydrolase, reduces HIV-1 infectivity in myeloid cells, likely by limiting dNTPs available for reverse transcription, and has been described as IFNα-inducible. Myeloid cell infection by HIV-1 is enhanced by HIV-2/SIVSM Vpx, which promotes SAMHD1 degradation, or by exogenous deoxyribonucleoside (dN) addition.


SAMHD1 expression was not substantially influenced by IFNα treatment of monocyte-derived macrophages or THP-1 cells. The contributions of SAMHD1 to the inhibition of HIV-1 infectivity by IFNα were assessed through the provision of Vpx, exogenous dN addition, or via RNAi-mediated SAMHD1 knock-down. Both Vpx and dN efficiently restored infection in IFNα-treated macrophages, albeit not to the levels seen with these treatments in the absence of IFNα. Similarly using differentiated THP-1 cells, the addition of Vpx or dNs, or SAMHD1 knock-down, also stimulated infection, but failing to match the levels observed without IFNα. Neither Vpx addition nor SAMHD1 knock-down reversed the IFNα-induced blocks to HIV-1 infection seen in dividing U87-MG or THP-1 cells. Therefore, altered SAMHD1 expression or function cannot account for the IFNα-induced restriction to HIV-1 infection seen in many cells and cell lines.


IFNα establishes an anti-HIV-1 phenotype in many cell types, and appears to accomplish this without potentiating SAMHD1 function. We conclude that additional IFNα-induced suppressors of the early stages of HIV-1 infection await identification.

HIV-1; Interferon; Restriction; Macrophages; SAMHD1; Vpx; Deoxyribonucleosides