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Science. 2003 Mar 14;299(5613):1713-6. Epub 2003 Feb 13.

Spread of HTLV-I between lymphocytes by virus-induced polarization of the cytoskeleton.

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Department of Immunology, Imperial College London, St. Mary's Campus, Norfolk Place, London W2 1PG, UK.


Cell contact is required for efficient transmission of human T cell leukemia virus- type 1 (HTLV-I) between cells and between individuals, because naturally infected lymphocytes produce virtually no cell-free infectious HTLV-I particles. However, the mechanism of cell-to-cell spread of HTLV-I is not understood. We show here that cell contact rapidly induces polarization of the cytoskeleton of the infected cell to the cell-cell junction. HTLV-I core (Gag protein) complexes and the HTLV-I genome accumulate at the cell-cell junction and are then transferred to the uninfected cell. Other lymphotropic viruses, such as HIV-1, may similarly subvert normal T cell physiology to allow efficient propagation between cells.

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