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Virology. 2007 May 25;362(1):67-74. Epub 2007 Jan 17.

Galactosyl ceramide expressed on dendritic cells can mediate HIV-1 transfer from monocyte derived dendritic cells to autologous T cells.

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Entrée Muqueuse du VIH et immunité muqueuse (Mucosal entry of HIV-1 and mucosal immunity), Departement de Biologie Cellulaire (Cell Biology Department), Institut Cochin, CNRS, INSERM, Université René Descartes, 22 rue Mechain, 75014 Paris, France.


Mucosa, comprising epithelial and dendritic cells, are the major sites for Human Immunodeficiency Virus type 1 (HIV-1) transmission. There, DCs can capture incoming HIV-1 and in turn transfer virus to CD4(+) T lymphocytes in a two-phase process, thereby initiating HIV-1 dissemination. We show that the glycosphingolipid Galactosyl Ceramide (GalCer), acting as mucosal epithelial receptor for HIV-1, was expressed by human monocyte derived immature DCs (iDCs), human primary DCs isolated from blood and mucosal tissue and in situ on mucosal tissue and acts as HIV-1-gp41 receptor. Blocking both GalCer and CD4 with specific mAbs results in a >95% transfer inhibition of HIV-1 from human monocyte-derived iDCs to autologous resting T cells. GalCer interaction with HIV-1 controls the early infection-independent phase of HIV-1 transfer to T cells. Thus, GalCer appears as an initial receptor for HIV-1, common to both mucosal epithelial cells and iDCs.

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