Eradication of HIV-1 (HIV) is hindered by stable viral reservoirs. Viral latency is epigenetically regulated. While the effects of histone acetylation and methylation at the HIV long-terminal repeat (LTR) have been described, our knowledge of the proviral epigenetic landscape is incomplete. We report that a previously unrecognized epigenetic modification of the HIV LTR, histone crotonylation, is a regulator of HIV latency. Reactivation of latent HIV was achieved following the induction of histone crotonylation through increased expression of the crotonyl-CoA–producing enzyme acyl-CoA synthetase short-chain family member 2 (ACSS2). This reprogrammed the local chromatin at the HIV LTR through increased histone acetylation and reduced histone methylation. Pharmacologic inhibition or siRNA knockdown of ACSS2 diminished histone crotonylation–induced HIV replication and reactivation. ACSS2 induction was highly synergistic in combination with either a protein kinase C agonist (PEP005) or a histone deacetylase inhibitor (vorinostat) in reactivating latent HIV. In the SIV-infected nonhuman primate model of AIDS, the expression of ACSS2 was significantly induced in intestinal mucosa in vivo, which correlated with altered fatty acid metabolism. Our study links the HIV/SIV infection–induced fatty acid enzyme ACSS2 to HIV latency and identifies histone lysine crotonylation as a novel epigenetic regulator for HIV transcription that can be targeted for HIV eradication.
Guochun Jiang, Don Nguyen, Nancie M. Archin, Steven A. Yukl, Gema Méndez-Lagares, Yuyang Tang, Maher M. Elsheikh, George R. Thompson III, Dennis J. Hartigan-O’Connor, David M. Margolis, Joseph K. Wong, Satya Dandekar