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J Virol. 2007 Jul;81(13):6858-68. Epub 2007 Apr 18.

Activated CD34-derived Langerhans cells mediate transinfection with human immunodeficiency virus.

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Department of Cell and Molecular Biology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL 60611-3008, USA.


Langerhans cells (LCs) are a subset of dendritic cells (DCs) that reside within epidermal and mucosal tissue. Because of their location, LCs are potentially the first cells to encounter human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) during sexual transmission. We report that LCs purified from CD34(+)-derived DCs can facilitate the transinfection of target cells but only after activation. Virions were observed in an intracellular compartment that contains several tetraspanins, in addition to the unique LC markers langerin and CD1a. This reveals that the trafficking of HIV within LCs is reminiscent of that which occurs in mature monocyte-derived DCs and that it varies with the activation state of the cell. The observation that activated LCs can mediate transinfection suggests a potential role for these cells in the known increase in HIV transmission associated with sexually transmitted infections that would cause inflammation of the genital lining.

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