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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 1995 Mar 14;92(6):2308-12.

CD8+ T cells suppress human immunodeficiency virus replication by inhibiting viral transcription.

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  • 1Cancer Research Institute, University of California, School of Medicine, San Francisco 94143-0128.


CD8+ cells from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals suppress HIV replication in cultured CD4+ cells by a noncytolytic mechanism that involves a secreted CD8(+)-cell antiviral factor (CAF). The results of this study suggest that CD8+ cells, as well as CAF, arrest HIV replication at the level of viral transcription. Culturing naturally infected CD4+ cells actively producing HIV with autologous CD8+ cells or a 50% dilution of culture fluids from these cells results in a > 80% reduction in the number of cells expressing HIV antigens and RNA. This effect was observed within 2 days after exposure to CD8+ cells but required 6 days in the presence of CAF-containing culture fluids to reach the same extent of HIV suppression. Northern blot analysis of CD4+ cell extracts revealed that all viral RNA species (unspliced and single and double spliced) were reduced in quantity to a similar extent. CAF-containing culture fluids also had a direct inhibitory effect on HIV long terminal repeat (LTR)-driven transcription in HIV-infected 1G5 cells carrying an LTR-luciferase construct. Suppression of basal levels of LTR-driven transcription was not detected. Thus, the results suggest that the noncytolytic CD8+ cell antiviral activity observed in HIV infection exerts its effects, at least in part, by specifically interrupting HIV transcription. These findings could help in developing therapies for HIV infection.

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