Nuclear PYHIN proteins target the host transcription factor Sp1 thereby restricting HIV-1 in human macrophages and CD4+ T cells
Members of the family of pyrin and HIN domain containing (PYHIN) proteins play an emerging role in innate immunity. While absent in melanoma 2 (AIM2) acts a cytosolic sensor of non-self DNA and plays a key role in inflammasome assembly, the γ-interferon-inducible protein 16 (IFI16) restricts retroviral gene expression by sequestering the transcription factor Sp1. Here, we show that the remaining two human PYHIN proteins, i.e. myeloid cell nuclear differentiation antigen (MNDA) and pyrin and HIN domain family member 1 (PYHIN1 or IFIX) share this antiretroviral function of IFI16. On average, knock-down of each of these three nuclear PYHIN proteins increased infectious HIV-1 yield from human macrophages by more than an order of magnitude. Similarly, knock-down of IFI16 strongly increased virus transcription and production in primary CD4+ T cells. The N-terminal pyrin domain (PYD) plus linker region containing a nuclear localization signal (NLS) were generally required and sufficient for Sp1 sequestration and anti-HIV-1 activity of IFI16, MNDA and PYHIN1. Replacement of the linker region of AIM2 by the NLS-containing linker of IFI16 resulted in a predominantly nuclear localization and conferred direct antiviral activity to AIM2 while attenuating its ability to form inflammasomes. The reverse change caused nuclear-to-cytoplasmic relocalization of IFI16 and impaired its antiretroviral activity but did not result in inflammasome assembly. We further show that the Zn-finger domain of Sp1 is critical for the interaction with IFI16 supporting that pyrin domains compete with DNA for Sp1 binding. Finally, we found that human PYHIN proteins also inhibit Hepatitis B virus and simian vacuolating virus 40 as well as the LINE-1 retrotransposon. Altogether, our data show that IFI16, PYHIN1 and MNDA restrict HIV-1 and other viral pathogens by interfering with Sp1-dependent gene expression and support an important role of nuclear PYHIN proteins in innate antiviral immunity.