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CD4 antigen, cell compartmentalization, dendritic cell, HIV-1, T lymphocyte


DC-SIGN (CD209) is a C-type lectin expressed by several groups of dendritic cells (DC), including those derived from blood monocytes and DC found beneath genital epithelium. DC-SIGN binds the envelope glycoprotein of HIV-1 and facilitates transmission of infectious virus to permissive CD4+ T cells. We have compared the capacity of DC-SIGN in different cell types to bind, retain and transmit infectious HIV-1 to T cells. The analyzed cells included monocyte-derived DC, and three different DC-SIGN-expressing transfectants; termed THP, 293 and HOS. Our results show that DC-SIGN transfectants were able to bind HIV-1 virions comparably to DC. However, only the THP monocytic cell line shared with DC the capacity to retain for several days virus that was infectious for T cells. In both THP-DC-SIGN transfectants and DC, but not in 293 cells, HIV-1 was localized to intracellular compartments that did not double label for endosomal and lysosomal markers or for DC-SIGN itself. Virus remained detectable in these compartments for at least 2 days. Anti-DC-SIGN antibodies blocked the binding and transmission of HIV-1 in DC-SIGN transfectants, as monitored by PCR for HIV LTR/gag and p24 ELISA. However anti-DC-SIGN antibodies did not block virus binding and transmission to T cells as well in DC as in THP-DC-SIGN transfectants. Thus, the function of DC-SIGN in HIV-1 transmission depends on its cellular context, since only DC and the THP monocyte cell line, but not 293 and HOS, are able to use DC-SIGN to retain HIV-1 in a highly infectious state for several days.


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