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PLoS Pathog. 2009 Jan;5(1):e1000279. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1000279. Epub 2009 Jan 30.

Selective transmission of R5 HIV-1 over X4 HIV-1 at the dendritic cell-T cell infectious synapse is determined by the T cell activation state.

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Department of Immunology, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan.


Dendritic cells (DCs) are essential antigen-presenting cells for the induction of T cell immunity against HIV. On the other hand, due to the susceptibility of DCs to HIV infection, virus replication is strongly enhanced in DC-T cell interaction via an immunological synapse formed during the antigen presentation process. When HIV-1 is isolated from individuals newly infected with the mixture of R5 and X4 variants, R5 is predominant, irrespective of the route of infection. Because the early massive HIV-1 replication occurs in activated T cells and such T-cell activation is induced by antigen presentation, we postulated that the selective expansion of R5 may largely occur at the level of DC-T cell interaction. Thus, the immunological synapse serves as an infectious synapse through which the virus can be disseminated in vivo. We used fluorescent recombinant X4 and R5 HIV-1 consisting of a common HIV-1 genome structure with distinct envelopes, which allowed us to discriminate the HIV-1 transmitted from DCs infected with the two virus mixtures to antigen-specific CD4(+) T cells by flow cytometry. We clearly show that the selective expansion of R5 over X4 HIV-1 did occur, which was determined at an early entry step by the activation status of the CD4(+) T cells receiving virus from DCs, but not by virus entry efficiency or productivity in DCs. Our results imply a promising strategy for the efficient control of HIV infection.

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