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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2002 Jul 9;99(14):9410-4. Epub 2002 Jul 1.

Transepithelial transport of HIV-1 by M cells is receptor-mediated.

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  • 1Swiss Institute for Experimental Cancer Research and Institute of Biochemistry, University of Lausanne, CH-1066 Epalinges, Switzerland.


Human colon carcinoma Caco-2 cell monolayers undergo conversion into cells that share morphological and functional features of M cells when allowed to interact with B lymphocytes. A lymphotropic (X4) HIV-1 strain crosses M cell monolayers and infects underlying CD4(+) target cells. Transport requires both lactosyl cerebroside and CXCR4 receptors, which are expressed on the apical surface of Caco-2 and M cells. Antibodies specific for each receptor block transport. In contrast, a monotropic (R5) HIV-1 strain is unable to cross M cell monolayers and infect underlying monocytes, despite efficient transport of latex beads. Caco-2 and M cells do not express CCR5, but transfection of these cells with CCR5 cDNA restores transport of R5 virus, which demonstrates that HIV-1 transport across M cells is receptor-mediated. The follicle-associated epithelium covering human gut lymphoid follicles expresses CCR5, but not CXCR4, and lactosyl cerebroside, suggesting that HIV-1 infection may occur through M cells and enterocytes at these sites.

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