HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders afflict about half of HIV-infected patients. HIV-infected cells shed viral proteins, such as the transactivator of transcription (Tat), which can cause neurotoxicity by over activation of NMDA receptors. Here, we show that Tat causes a time-dependent, biphasic change in NMDA-evoked increases in intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i). NMDA-evoked responses were potentiated following 2-h exposure to Tat (50 ng/mL). Tat-induced potentiation of NMDA-evoked increases in [Ca2+]i peaked by 8 h and then adapted by gradually reversing to baseline by 24 h and eventually dropping below control by 48 h. Tat-induced potentiation of NMDA-evoked responses was blocked by inhibition of lipoprotein receptor-related protein (LRP) or Src tyrosine kinase. Potentiation was unaffected by inhibition of nitric oxide synthase (NOS). However, NOS activity was required for adaptation. Adaptation was also prevented by inhibition of soluble guanylate cyclase (sGC) and cyclic guanosine monophosphate-dependent protein kinase G (PKG). Together, these findings indicate that Tat potentiates NMDA-evoked increases in [Ca2+]i via LRP-dependent activation of Src and that this potentiation adapts via activation of the NOS/sGC/PKG pathway. Adaptation may protect neurons from excessive Ca2+ influx and could reveal targets for the treatment of HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders.
HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders (HAND) afflict about half of HIV-infected patients. HIV-infected cells shed viral proteins, such as the transactivator of transcription (Tat), which can cause neurotoxicity by over activation of NMDA receptors (NMDARs). We show that HIV-1 Tat evoked biphasic changes in NMDA-evoked [Ca2+]i responses. Initially, Tat potentiated NMDA-evoked responses following LRP-mediated activation of Src kinase. Subsequently, Tat-induced NMDAR potentiation adapted by activation of a NOS/sGC/PKG pathway that attenuated NMDA-evoked increases in [Ca2+]i. Adaptation may be a novel neuroprotective mechanism to prevent excessive Ca2+ influx. Solid and dashed arrows represent direct and potentially indirect connections, respectively.