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Vaccine. 2002 May 6;20(15):1934-7.

Understanding the basis of CD4(+) T-cell depletion in macaques infected by a simian-human immunodeficiency virus.

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  • 1Department of Cancer Immunology and AIDS, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Department of Pathology, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Abstract

The efficacy of candidate AIDS vaccines to mediate protection against viral infection and pathogenesis is evaluated, at a preclinical stage, in animal models. One model that is favored because the infecting virus is closely related to HIV-1 and because of the rapidity of pathogenic outcomes is the infection of Old World monkeys by simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV) chimerae. We investigated the basis for the depletion of CD4(+) T lymphocytes in a SHIV-macaque model. Molecularly cloned SHIVs, SHIV-89.6 and SHIV-KB9, differ in the ability to cause CD4(+) T-cell loss at a given level of virus replication in monkeys. The envelope glycoproteins of the pathogenic SHIV-KB9 mediate membrane-fusion in cultured T lymphocytes more efficiently than the envelope glycoproteins of the non-pathogenic SHIV-89.6. The minimal envelope glycoprotein region that specifies this increase in membrane-fusing capacity was sufficient to convert SHIV-89.6 into a virus that causes profound CD4(+) T-cell depletion in monkeys. Conversely, two single amino acid changes that decrease the membrane-fusing ability of the SHIV-KB9 envelope glycoproteins also attenuated the CD4(+) T-cell destruction that accompanied a given level of virus replication in SHIV-infected monkeys. Thus, the ability of the HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins to fuse membranes, which has been implicated in the induction of viral cytopathic effects in vitro, contributes to the capacity of the pathogenic SHIV to deplete CD4(+) T lymphocytes in vivo.

PMID:
11983249
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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