Analysis of SAMHD1 restriction by flow cytometry in human myeloid U937 cells
journal contributionposted on 25.06.2021, 13:34 by Paula Ordonez, Kate N Bishop, Jonathan P Stoye, Harriet Cordelia Theed Groom
Sterile α-motif/histidine-aspartate domain-containing protein 1 (SAMHD1) inhibits replication of HIV-1 in quiescent myeloid cells. U937 cells are widely used as a convenient cell system for analyzing SAMHD1 activity due to a low level of SAMHD1 RNA expression, leading to undetectable endogenous protein expression. Based on similar assays developed in the Stoye laboratory to characterize other retroviral restriction factors, the Bishop lab developed a two-color restriction assay to analyze SAMHD1 in U937 cells. Murine Leukaemia Virus-like particles expressing SAMHD1, alongside YFP expressed from an IRES, are used to transduce U937 cells. Cells are then treated with phorbol myristate acetate to induce differentiation to a quiescent phenotype. Following differentiation, cells are infected with HIV-1 virus-like particles expressing a fluorescent reporter. After 48 h, cells are harvested and analyzed by flow cytometry. The proportion of HIV-infected cells in the SAMHD1-expressing population is compared to that in internal control cells lacking SAMHD1. This comparison reveals a restriction ratio. SAMHD1 expression leads to a five-fold reduction in HIV infection, corresponding to a restriction ratio of 0.2. Our recent substitution of RFP for the original GFP as the reporter gene for HIV infection has facilitated flow cytometry analysis. This assay has been successfully used to characterize the effect of amino acid substitutions on SAMHD1 restriction by transducing with viruses encoding altered SAMHD1 proteins, derived from site-directed mutagenesis of the expression vector. For example, the catalytic site substitutions HD206-7AA show a restriction phenotype of 1, indicating a loss of restriction activity. Equally, the susceptibility of different tester viruses can be determined. The assay can be further adapted to incorporate the effect of differentiation status, metabolic status, and SAMHD1 modifiers to better understand the relationship between SAMHD1, cell metabolic state, and viral restriction.