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Traffic. 2008 Feb;9(2):200-14. Epub 2007 Nov 22.

HIV-1 replication in dendritic cells occurs through a tetraspanin-containing compartment enriched in AP-3.

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Department of Dermatology and Venereology, University Hospital and Medical School of Geneva, 1211 Geneva, Switzerland.


Dendritic cells (DC) are crucial components of the early events of HIV infection. Dendritic cells capture and internalize HIV at mucosal surfaces and efficiently transfer the virus to CD4+ T cells in trans through infectious synapses (trans-infection pathway). Alternatively, HIV-1 replicates in DC (R5-HIV-1) (cis-infection pathway). Here, we analyzed HIV trafficking in DC during the trans-infection pathway as well as the cis-infection pathway. Confocal immunofluorescence microscopy demonstrated that after capture by DC, R5-HIV-1 and HIV-1 pseudotyped with vesicular stomatitis virus protein G colocalized in a viral compartment enriched in tetraspanins including CD81, CD82 and CD9, although at different levels, indicating a role of the viral envelope in targeting to the tetraspanin-rich compartment. Replication of R5-HIV-1 in DC (cis-infection pathway) also led to the accumulation, in an envelope-independent manner, of mature viral particles in a tetraspanin-rich compartment. A fraction of the HIV-1-containing compartments appeared directly accessible from the cell surface. In sharp contrast with the trans-infection pathway, the delta-subunit of the adaptor protein 3 (AP-3) complex was enriched on the HIV-1-containing compartment during R5-HIV-1 replication in DC (cis-infection pathway). Downregulation of AP-3 delta-adaptin reduced significantly viral particle release from HIV-1-infected DC. Together, these studies demonstrate a role for AP-3 in HIV replication in a tetraspanin-rich compartment in DC and contribute to the elucidation of the trafficking pathways required for DC-T cell transfer of HIV-1 infection, a critical step during the early events of HIV infection.

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