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Curr Biol. 1999 May 20;9(10):547-50.

A trans-receptor mechanism for infection of CD4-negative cells by human immunodeficiency virus type 1.

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Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology, PO Box 419100, San Francisco, California 94141, USA.


Chemokine receptors, particularly CCR5 and CXCR4, act as essential coreceptors in concert with CD4 for cellular entry by human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1; reviewed in [1]). But infection of CD4(-) cells has also been encountered in various tissues in vivo, including astrocytes, neurons and microvascular endothelial cells of the brain [2] [3] [4] [5] [6], epithelial cells [5] [7], CD4(-) lymphocytes and thymocytes [8] [9], and cardiomyocytes [10]. Here, we present evidence for the infection of CD4(-) cell lines bearing coreceptors by well-known HIV-1 strains when co-cultured with CD4(+) cells. This process requires contact between the coreceptor-bearing and CD4(+) cells and supports the full viral replication cycle within the coreceptor-bearing target cell. Furthermore, CD4 provided in trans facilitates infection of primary human cells, such as brain-derived astrocytes. Although the pathobiological significance of infection of CD4(-) cells in vivo remains to be elucidated, this trans-receptor mechanism may facilitate generation of hidden reservoirs of latent virus that confound antiviral therapies and that contribute to specific AIDS-associated clinical syndromes.

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