The capacity of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1) to establish latent infections constitutes a major barrier to the development of a cure for HIV-1. In latent infection, replication competent HIV-1 provirus is integrated within the host genome but remains silent, masking the infected cells from the activity of the host immune response. Despite the progress in elucidating the molecular players that regulate HIV-1 gene expression, the mechanisms driving the establishment and maintenance of latency are still not fully understood. Transcription from the HIV-1 genome occurs in the context of chromatin and is subjected to the same regulatory mechanisms that drive cellular gene expression. Much like in eukaryotic genes, the nucleosomal landscape of the HIV-1 promoter and its position within genomic chromatin are determinants of its transcriptional activity. Understanding the multilayered chromatin-mediated mechanisms that underpin HIV-1 integration and expression is of utmost importance for the development of therapeutic strategies aimed at reducing the pool of latently infected cells. In this review, we discuss the impact of chromatin structure on viral integration, transcriptional regulation and latency, and the host factors that influence HIV-1 replication by regulating chromatin organization. Finally, we describe therapeutic strategies under development to target the chromatin—HIV-1 interplay.
International Review of Cell and Molecular Biology, Volume 328, 1 December 2017,