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J Immunol. 2010 Mar 15;184(6):2814-24. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.0902125. Epub 2010 Feb 10.

Neisseria gonorrhoeae enhances HIV-1 infection of primary resting CD4+ T cells through TLR2 activation.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York, NY 10029, USA.


Sexually transmitted infections increase the likelihood of HIV-1 transmission. We investigated the effect of Neisseria gonorrheae (gonococcus [GC]) exposure on HIV replication in primary resting CD4(+) T cells, a major HIV target cell during the early stage of sexual transmission of HIV. GC and TLR2 agonists, such as peptidylglycan (PGN), Pam(3)CSK(4), and Pam(3)C-Lip, a GC-derived synthetic lipopeptide, but not TLR4 agonists including LPS or GC lipooligosaccharide enhanced HIV-1 infection of primary resting CD4(+) T cells after viral entry. Pretreatment of CD4(+) cells with PGN also promoted HIV infection. Anti-TLR2 Abs abolished the HIV enhancing effect of GC and Pam(3)C-Lip, indicating that GC-mediated enhancement of HIV infection of resting CD4(+) T cells was through TLR2. IL-2 was required for TLR2-mediated HIV enhancement. PGN and GC induced cell surface expression of T cell activation markers and HIV coreceptors, CCR5 and CXCR4. The maximal postentry HIV enhancing effect was achieved when PGN was added immediately after viral exposure. Kinetic studies and analysis of HIV DNA products indicated that GC exposure and TLR2 activation enhanced HIV infection at the step of nuclear import. We conclude that GC enhanced HIV infection of primary resting CD4(+) T cells through TLR2 activation, which both increased the susceptibility of primary CD4(+) T cells to HIV infection as well as enhanced HIV-infected CD4(+) T cells at the early stage of HIV life cycle after entry. This study provides a molecular mechanism by which nonulcerative sexually transmitted infections mediate enhancement of HIV infection and has implication for HIV prevention and therapeutics.

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