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J Virol. 2005 Apr;79(7):4316-28.

Tetraspanin CD81 provides a costimulatory signal resulting in increased human immunodeficiency virus type 1 gene expression in primary CD4+ T lymphocytes through NF-kappaB, NFAT, and AP-1 transduction pathways.

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  • 1Research Center in Infectious Diseases, CHUL Research Center, Faculty of Medicine, Laval University, Quebec, Canada.


The tetraspanin superfamily member CD81 has been shown to form microdomains in the plasma membrane and to participate in the recruitment of numerous adhesion molecules, receptors, and signaling proteins in the central zone of the immune synapse. Beside its structural role, CD81 also delivers a cosignal for T cells to trigger cytokine production and cellular proliferation, thus suggesting a key role in some fundamental biological functions. It has been shown that signaling events initiated through the T-cell receptor (TCR)/CD3 complex and the coactivator CD28 positively affect human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) gene expression, but no study had investigated the putative costimulatory activity of CD81 on HIV-1 transcriptional activity. We observed that CD81 engagement potentiates TCR/CD3-mediated signaling, resulting in an enhancement of HIV-1 transcription and de novo virus production in both established Jurkat cells and primary CD4+ T lymphocytes at a magnitude that approximates that with CD28. These observations were made by using transiently transfected plasmids (i.e., nonintegrated viral DNA) and fully competent viruses (i.e., stably integrated provirus). Moreover, the CD81-mediated enhancement of HIV-1 gene expression is linked with increased nuclear translocation of transcription factors known to positively regulate virus transcription, i.e., NF-kappaB, NFAT, and AP-1. These findings suggest that engagement of CD81 decreases the signaling threshold required to initiate TCR/CD3-mediated induction of integrated HIV-1 proviral DNA in primary CD4+ T cells.

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