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J Virol. 2009 Nov;83(21):11341-55. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01440-09. Epub 2009 Aug 26.

Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 envelope gp120-induced partial T-cell receptor signaling creates an F-actin-depleted zone in the virological synapse.

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  • 1Program in Molecular Pathogenesis, Marty and Helen Kimmel Center for Biology and Medicine, Skirball Institute for Biomolecular Medicine, New York University School of Medicine, New York, New York 10016, USA.


Cell-to-cell transmission of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) occurs via a virological synapse (VS), a tight cell-cell junction formed between HIV-infected cells and target cells in which the HIV-1-infected cell polarizes and releases virions toward the noninfected target cell in a gp120- and intercellular adhesion molecule 1 (ICAM-1)-dependent process. The response of the target cell has been less studied. We utilized supported planar bilayers presenting gp120 and ICAM-1 as a reductionist model for the infected-cell membrane and investigated its effect on the target CD4 T cell. This study shows that HIV-1 gp120 interaction with its receptors is initially organized into microclusters that undergo F-actin-dependent consolidation into a central supramolecular activation complex (cSMAC). Src kinases are active in both gp120 microclusters and in the VS cSMAC. The early T-cell receptor (TCR) signaling machinery is partially activated at the VS, and signaling does not propagate to trigger Ca(2+) elevation or increase CD69 expression. However, these partial TCR signals act locally to create an F-actin-depleted zone. We propose a model in which the F-actin-depleted zone formed within the target CD4 T cell enhances the reception of virions by releasing the physical barrier for HIV-1 entry and facilitating postentry events.

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