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AIDS. 2003 Jan 3;17(1):33-42.

Platelet- and megakaryocyte-derived microparticles transfer CXCR4 receptor to CXCR4-null cells and make them susceptible to infection by X4-HIV.

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  • 1Stem Cell Biology Program at James Graham Brown Cancer Center, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, USA.



Under some circumstances the HIV virus may infect cells that do not express receptors essential to HIV-entry. We hypothesized that platelet- and megakaryocyte-derived microparticles (MP) could play a role in such infections. MP are circular membrane fragments shed from the surface of eukaryotic cells. After adhesion to target cells, MP may transfer membrane-associated proteins to these cells. We found that peripheral blood platelet- (PMP) and megakaryocyte-derived MP (MegaMP) that highly express CXCR4 may transfer this receptor from the surface of platelets or megakaryocytes to the surface of CXCR4-null cells.


Since this mechanism could potentially allow CD4+/CXCR4-null cells to become infected by T-tropic HIV, we incubated several human CD4+/CXCR4-null cells such as normal erythroblasts, glioblastomas U87, MAGI and hematopoietic cell lines UT-7, HEL and TF-1 with PMP or MegaMP. We found that these cells became CXCR4+. We next exposed these cells to X4-HIV (IIIB) and evaluated their susceptibility to infection by PCR, ELISA, and morphological analysis.


We observed in all instances that after CD4+/CXCR4-null cell lines 'acquired' CXCR4 from PMP or MegaMP, they could became infected by X4 HIV.


We postulate that both PMP and MegaMP may play a novel and important role in spreading HIV-1 infection by transferring the CXCR4 co-receptor to CD4+/CXCR4-null cells.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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