Plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) are the major source of type I interferons (IFN-I) in rapid response to viral infections, with constitutive expression of interferon regulatory factor 7 (IRF7). HIV-1 expresses several accessory proteins to counteract specific IFN-induced host restriction factors. As one abundant virion-associated protein, HIV-1 Vpr remains enigmatic in enhancing HIV-1 infection via unclear mechanisms. Here we report that Vpr impaired IFN-I induction in pDCs to enhance HIV-1 replication in CD4+ T cells. Blockade of IFN-I signaling abrogated the effect of Vpr on HIV-1 replication. Virion-associated Vpr suppressed IFN-I induction in pDC by TLR7 agonists. Modulation of IFN-I induction by Vpr was genetically dependent on its activity of TET2 degradation. We further demonstrate that Vpr-mediated TET2 degradation reduced expression of IRF7 in pDCs. Finally, degradation of TET2 in pDCs by Vpr reduced the demethylation level of the IRF7 promoter via CXXC5-dependent recruitment. We conclude that HIV-1 Vpr functions to promote HIV-1 replication by suppressing TET2-dependent IRF7 expression and IFN-I induction in pDCs. The Vpr-TET2-IRF7 axis provides a novel therapeutic target to control HIV-1 infection.
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