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J Biol Chem. 2012 Oct 12;287(42):35455-69. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M112.362400. Epub 2012 Aug 9.

A dichotomy in cortical actin and chemotactic actin activity between human memory and naive T cells contributes to their differential susceptibility to HIV-1 infection.

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  • 1National Center for Biodefense and Infectious Diseases, Department of Molecular and Microbiology, George Mason University, Manassas, Virginia 20110, USA.


Human memory and naive CD4 T cells can mainly be identified by the reciprocal expression of the CD45RO or CD45RA isoforms. In HIV-1 infection, blood CD45RO memory CD4 T cells are preferentially infected and serve as a major viral reservoir. The molecular mechanism dictating this differential susceptibility to HIV-1 remains largely obscure. Here, we report that the different susceptibility of memory and naive T cells to HIV is not determined by restriction factors such as Apobec3G or BST2. However, we observed a phenotypic distinction between human CD45RO and CD45RA resting CD4 T cells in their cortical actin density and actin dynamics. CD45RO CD4 T cells possess a higher cortical actin density and can be distinguished as CD45RO(+)Actin(high). In contrast, CD45RA T cells are phenotypically CD45RA(+)Actin(low). In addition, the cortical actin in CD45RO memory CD4 T cells is more dynamic and can respond to low dosages of chemotactic induction by SDF-1, whereas that of naive cells cannot, despite a similar level of the chemokine receptor CXCR4 present on both cells. We further demonstrate that this difference in the cortical actin contributes to their differential susceptibility to HIV-1; resting memory but not naive T cells are highly responsive to HIV-mediated actin dynamics that promote higher levels of viral entry and early DNA synthesis in resting memory CD4 T cells. Furthermore, transient induction of actin dynamics in resting naive T cells rescues HIV latent infection following CD3/CD28 stimulation. These results suggest a key role of chemotactic actin activity in facilitating HIV-1 latent infection of these T cell subsets.

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