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Nature. 1995 Jun 8;375(6531):497-500.

Sensitization of T cells to CD95-mediated apoptosis by HIV-1 Tat and gp120.

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Tumorimmunology Program, German Cancer Research Centre, Heidelberg.


The depletion of CD4+ T cells in AIDS is correlated with high turnover of the human immunodeficiency virus HIV-1 and associated with apoptosis. The molecular mechanism of apoptosis in HIV infection, however, is largely unknown. T-cell apoptosis might be affected by viral proteins such as HIV-1 Tat and gp120 (refs 10, 11). T-cell-receptor (TCR)-induced apoptosis was recently shown to involve the CD95 (APO-1/Fas) receptor. We show here that HIV-1 Tat strongly sensitizes TCR- and CD4(gp120)-induced apoptosis by upregulation of CD95 ligand expression. Concentrations of Tat found to be effective in cultures of HIV-1-infected cells were also observed in sera from HIV-1-infected individuals. Taken together, our results indicate that HIV-1 Tat and gp120 accelerate CD95-mediated, activation-induced T-cell apoptosis, a mechanism that may contribute to CD4+ T-cell depletion in AIDS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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