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J Virol. 2002 Mar;76(6):2936-51.

Infectious and whole inactivated simian immunodeficiency viruses interact similarly with primate dendritic cells (DCs): differential intracellular fate of virions in mature and immature DCs.

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Laboratory of Cellular Physiology and Immunology, The Rockefeller University, New York, New York, 10021, USA.


As potential targets for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 and simian immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1 and SIV), dendritic cells (DCs) likely play a significant role in the onset and spread of infection as well as in the induction of antiviral immunity. Using the SIV-macaque system to study the very early events in DC-virus interactions, we compared chemically inactivated SIV having conformationally and functionally intact envelope glycoproteins (2,2'-dithiodipyridine [AT-2] SIV) to infectious and heat-treated SIV. Both human and macaque DCs interact similarly with SIV without detectable effects on DC viability, phenotype, or endocytic function. As assessed by measuring cell-associated viral RNA, considerable amounts of virus are captured by the DCs and this is reduced when the virus is heat treated or derived from a strain that expresses low levels of envelope glycoprotein. Immunostaining for SIV proteins and electron microscopy indicated that few intact virus particles are retained at the periphery of the endocytically active, immature DCs. This contrasts with a perinuclear localization of numerous virions in large vesicular compartments deeper within mature DCs (in which macropinocytosis is down-regulated). Both immature and mature DCs are capable of clathrin-coated pit-mediated uptake of SIV, supporting the notion that the receptor-mediated uptake of virus can occur readily in mature DCs. While large numbers of whole viruses were preferentially found in mature DCs, both immature and mature DCs contained similar amounts of viral RNA, suggesting that different uptake/virus entry mechanisms are active in immature and mature DCs. These findings have significant implications for cell-to-cell transmission of HIV-1 and SIV and support the use of AT-2 SIV, an authentic but noninfectious form of virus, as a useful tool for studies of processing and presentation of AT-2 SIV antigens by DCs.

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