Epigenetic regulation of HIV-1 latency: Focus on polycomb group (PcG) proteins

Sheraz Khan, Mazhar Iqbal, Muhammad Tariq, Shahid M. Baig, Wasim Abbas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


HIV-1 latency allows the virus to persist until reactivation, in a transcriptionally silent form in its cellular reservoirs despite the presence of effective cART. Such viral persistence represents a major barrier to HIV eradication since treatment interruption leads to rebound plasma viremia. Polycomb group (PcG) proteins have recently got a considerable attention in regulating HIV-1 post-integration latency as they are involved in the repression of proviral gene expression through the methylation of histones. This epigenetic regulation plays an important role in the establishment and maintenance of HIV-1 latency. In fact, PcG proteins act in complexes and modulate the epigenetic signatures of integrated HIV-1 promoter. Key role played by PcG proteins in the molecular control of HIV-1 latency has led to hypothesize that PcG proteins may represent a valuable target for future HIV-1 therapy in purging HIV-1 reservoirs. In this regard, various small molecules have been synthesized or explored to specifically block the epigenetic activity of PcG. In this review, we will highlight the possible therapeutic approaches to achieve either a functional or sterilizing cure of HIV-1 infection with special focus on histone methylation by PcG proteins together with current and novel pharmacological approaches to reactivate HIV-1 from latency that could ultimately lead towards a better clearance of viral latent reservoirs.

Original languageEnglish
Article number14
JournalClinical Epigenetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Epigenetics
  • HIV-1 latency
  • HIV-1 reservoirs
  • Histone modification
  • Polycomb group (PcG) proteins


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