CCR5AS lncRNA variation differentially regulates CCR5, influencing HIV disease outcome.


Multiple genome-wide studies have identified associations between outcome of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and polymorphisms in and around the gene encoding the HIV co-receptor CCR5, but the functional basis for the strongest of these associations, rs1015164A/G, is unknown. We found that rs1015164 marks variation in an activating transcription factor 1 binding site that controls expression of the antisense long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) CCR5AS. Knockdown or enhancement of CCR5AS expression resulted in a corresponding change in CCR5 expression on CD4 T cells. CCR5AS interfered with interactions between the RNA-binding protein Raly and the CCR5 3' untranslated region, protecting CCR5 messenger RNA from Raly-mediated degradation. Reduction in CCR5 expression through inhibition of CCR5AS diminished infection of CD4 T cells with CCR5-tropic HIV in vitro. These data represent a rare determination of the functional importance of a genome-wide disease association where expression of a lncRNA affects HIV infection and disease progression.