HIV-infected T cells are migratory vehicles for viral dissemination
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CitationMurooka, Thomas T., Maud Deruaz, Francesco Marangoni, Vladimir D. Vrbanac, Edward Seung, Ulrich H. von Andrian, Andrew M. Tager, Andrew D. Luster, and Thorsten R. Mempel. 2012. HIV-infected T cells are migratory vehicles for viral dissemination. Nature 490(7419): 283-287.
AbstractAfter host entry through mucosal surfaces, HIV-1 disseminates to lymphoid tissues to establish a generalized infection of the immune system. The mechanisms by which this virus spreads among permissive target cells locally during early stages of transmission, and systemically during subsequent dissemination are not known1. In vitro studies suggest that formation of virological synapses (VSs) during stable contacts between infected and uninfected T cells greatly increases the efficiency of viral transfer2. It is unclear, however, if T cell contacts are sufficiently stable in vivo to allow for functional synapse formation under the conditions of perpetual cell motility in epithelial3 and lymphoid tissues4. Here, using multiphoton intravital microscopy (MP-IVM), we examined the dynamic behavior of HIV-infected T cells in lymph nodes (LNs) of humanized mice. We found that most productively infected T cells migrated robustly, resulting in their even distribution throughout the LN cortex. A subset of infected cells formed multinucleated syncytia through HIV envelope (Env)-dependent cell fusion. Both uncoordinated motility of syncytia as well as adhesion to CD4+ LN cells led to the formation of long membrane tethers, increasing cell lengths to up to 10 times that of migrating uninfected T cells. Blocking the egress of migratory T cells from LNs into efferent lymph, and thus interrupting T cell recirculation, limited HIV dissemination and strongly reduced plasma viremia. Thus, we have found that HIV-infected T cells are motile, form syncytia, and establish tethering interactions that may facilitate cell-to-cell transmission through VSs. While their migration in LNs spreads infection locally, T cell recirculation through tissues is important for efficient systemic viral spread, suggesting new molecular targets to antagonize HIV infection.
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