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Retrovirology. 2010 May 19;7:47. doi: 10.1186/1742-4690-7-47.

Incorporation of podoplanin into HIV released from HEK-293T cells, but not PBMC, is required for efficient binding to the attachment factor CLEC-2.

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Nikolaus-Fiebiger-Center for Molecular Medicine, University Hospital Erlangen, Erlangen, Germany.



Platelets are associated with HIV in the blood of infected individuals and might modulate viral dissemination, particularly if the virus is directly transmitted into the bloodstream. The C-type lectin DC-SIGN and the novel HIV attachment factor CLEC-2 are expressed by platelets and facilitate HIV transmission from platelets to T-cells. Here, we studied the molecular mechanisms behind CLEC-2-mediated HIV-1 transmission.


Binding studies with soluble proteins indicated that CLEC-2, in contrast to DC-SIGN, does not recognize the viral envelope protein, but a cellular factor expressed on kidney-derived 293T cells. Subsequent analyses revealed that the cellular mucin-like membranous glycoprotein podoplanin, a CLEC-2 ligand, was expressed on 293T cells and incorporated into virions released from these cells. Knock-down of podoplanin in 293T cells by shRNA showed that virion incorporation of podoplanin was required for efficient CLEC-2-dependent HIV-1 interactions with cell lines and platelets. Flow cytometry revealed no evidence for podoplanin expression on viable T-cells and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). Podoplanin was also not detected on HIV-1 infected T-cells. However, apoptotic bystander cells in HIV-1 infected cultures reacted with anti-podoplanin antibodies, and similar results were obtained upon induction of apoptosis in a cell line and in PBMCs suggesting an unexpected link between apoptosis and podoplanin expression. Despite the absence of detectable podoplanin expression, HIV-1 produced in PBMC was transmitted to T-cells in a CLEC-2-dependent manner, indicating that T-cells might express an as yet unidentified CLEC-2 ligand.


Virion incorporation of podoplanin mediates CLEC-2 interactions of HIV-1 derived from 293T cells, while incorporation of a different cellular factor seems to be responsible for CLEC-2-dependent capture of PBMC-derived viruses. Furthermore, evidence was obtained that podoplanin expression is connected to apoptosis, a finding that deserves further investigation.

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