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PLoS One. 2011;6(6):e21171. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0021171. Epub 2011 Jun 16.

Exposure to apoptotic activated CD4+ T cells induces maturation and APOBEC3G-mediated inhibition of HIV-1 infection in dendritic cells.

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Center for Infectious Medicine, Department of Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska University Hospital Huddinge, Stockholm, Sweden.


Dendritic cells (DCs) are activated by signaling via pathogen-specific receptors or exposure to inflammatory mediators. Here we show that co-culturing DCs with apoptotic HIV-infected activated CD4(+) T cells (ApoInf) or apoptotic uninfected activated CD4(+) T cells (ApoAct) induced expression of co-stimulatory molecules and cytokine release. In addition, we measured a reduced HIV infection rate in DCs after co-culture with ApoAct. A prerequisite for reduced HIV infection in DCs was activation of CD4(+) T cells before apoptosis induction. DCs exposed to ApoAct or ApoInf secreted MIP-1α, MIP-1β, MCP-1, and TNF-α; this effect was retained in the presence of exogenous HIV. The ApoAct-mediated induction of co-stimulatory CD86 molecules and reduction of HIV infection in DCs were partially abrogated after blocking TNF-α using monoclonal antibodies. APOBEC3G expression in DCs was increased in co-cultures of DCs and ApoAct but not by apoptotic resting CD4(+) T cells (ApoRest). Silencing of APOBEC3G in DC abrogated the HIV inhibitory effect mediated by ApoAct. Sequence analyses of an env region revealed significant induction of G-to-A hypermutations in the context of GG or GA dinucleotides in DNA isolated from DCs exposed to HIV and ApoAct. Thus, ApoAct-mediated DC maturation resulted in induction of APOBEC3G that was important for inhibition of HIV-infection in DCs. These findings underscore the complexity of differential DC responses evoked upon interaction with resting as compared with activated dying cells during HIV infection.

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