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HIV-1, dendritic cell, T cell


Background: To initiate immunity, dendritic cells (DCs) capture antigens or viruses at body surfaces, undergo maturation to express T-cell costimulatory molecules, and then migrate to lymphoid organs. DCs at body surfaces can capture human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1), but mature DCs do not support replication of the virus unless T cells are added. The initial site for HIV-1 replication remains unknown and it is unclear whether replication can take place in DCs or whether the virus must first be transmitted from DCs to T cells. Results: We generated mature DCs from monocyte precursors. Upon infection with HIV-1, reverse transcription was completed only when T cells were added. When the reverse transcriptase inhibitor azidothymidine was added to the DCs during exposure to HIV-1, the DCs remained fully infectious, as long as the drug was removed just before culturing the DCs with T cells. HIV-1 variants that were engineered to undergo only one cycle of replication were able to infect DCs and replicate once in these cells. When T cells were added, newly produced HIV-1 Gag protein was exclusively localized to the DCs. With wild-type virus, subsequent rounds of replication took place in T cells. Soluble CD40 ligand (CD40L) and CD40L-transfected fibroblasts stimulated HIV-1 replication in purified mature DCs. Conclusions: Mature DCs provide a drug-resistant reservoir for HIV-1. This reservoir is activated within DCs by CD40L and upon interaction with T cells, and the virus then spreads rapidly to other T cells.


Open Access