Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) suppresses HIV-1 replication but cannot eliminate the virus because HIV-1 establishes latent infection. Interruption of HAART leads to a rapid rebound of viremia. Life-long treatment is therefore required. Efforts to purge the latent reservoir have focused on reactivating latent proviruses without inducing global T-cell activation. However, the killing of the infected cells after virus reactivation, which is essential for elimination of the reservoir, has not been assessed. Here we show that after reversal of latency in an in vitro model, infected resting CD4+ T cells survived despite viral cytopathic effects, even in the presence of autologous cytolytic T-lymphocytes (CTL) from most patients on HAART. Antigen-specific stimulation of patient CTLs led to efficient killing of infected cells. These results demonstrate that stimulating HIV-1-specific CTLs prior to reactivating latent HIV-1 may be essential for successful eradication efforts and should be considered in future clinical trials.
The persistence of HIV-1 latent reservoirs represents a major barrier to virus eradication in infected patients under HAART since interruption of the treatment inevitably leads to a rebound of plasma viremia. Latency establishes early after infection notably (but not only) in resting memory CD4+ T cells and involves numerous host and viral trans-acting proteins, as well as processes such as transcriptional interference, RNA silencing, epigenetic modifications and chromatin organization. In order to eliminate latent reservoirs, new strategies are envisaged and consist of reactivating HIV-1 transcription in latently-infected cells, while maintaining HAART in order to prevent de novo infection. The difficulty lies in the fact that a single residual latently-infected cell can in theory rekindle the infection. Here, we review our current understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in the establishment and maintenance of HIV-1 latency and in the transcriptional reactivation from latency. We highlight the potential of new therapeutic strategies based on this understanding of latency. Combinations of various compounds used simultaneously allow for the targeting of transcriptional repression at multiple levels and can facilitate the escape from latency and the clearance of viral reservoirs. We describe the current advantages and limitations of immune T-cell activators, inducers of the NF-κB signaling pathway, and inhibitors of deacetylases and histone- and DNA- methyltransferases, used alone or in combinations. While a solution will not be achieved by tomorrow, the battle against HIV-1 latent reservoirs is well- underway.
The introduction of the highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has greatly improved survival. However, these treatments fail to definitively cure the patients and unveil the presence of quiescent HIV-1 reservoirs like cells from monocyte-macrophage lineage. A purge, or at least a significant reduction of these long lived HIV-1 reservoirs will be needed to raise the hope of the viral eradication. This review focuses on the molecular mechanisms responsible for viral persistence in cells of the monocyte-macrophage lineage. Controversy on latency and/or cryptic chronic replication will be specifically evoked. In addition, since HIV-1 infected monocyte-macrophage cells appear to be more resistant to apoptosis, this obstacle to the viral eradication will be discussed. Understanding the intimate mechanisms of HIV-1 persistence is a prerequisite to devise new and original therapies aiming to achieve viral eradication.
Current antiretroviral therapy for HIV-1 infection effectively suppresses but does not eradicate HIV-1. Patients on Highly Active Anti-Retroviral Therapy (HAART) maintain a persistent low-level viremia requiring lifelong adherence to antiretroviral therapies. This viremia may arise from latently infected reservoirs such as resting memory CD4+ T-cells or sanctuary sites where drug penetration is suboptimal. Understanding the mechanisms of HIV latency will help efforts to eradicate the infection. This review examines the dynamics of persistent viremia, viral reservoirs, the mechanisms behind viral latency, and methods to purge the viral reservoirs. This article forms part of a special issue of Antiviral Research marking the 25th anniversary of antiretroviral drug discovery and development.
Heterochromatin; repression; latency; transcription; transcriptional interference; chromatin; primary latency models; virus; epigenetics; histone
Despite prolonged treatment with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), infectious HIV-1 continues to replicate and to reside latently in resting memory CD4+ T lymphocytes, creating a major obstacle to HIV-1 eradication. It is therefore not surprising to observe a prompt viral rebound after discontinuation of HAART. The nature of the rebounding virus, however, remains undefined. We now report on the genetic characterization of rebounding viruses in eight patients in whom plasma viremia was undetectable throughout about 3 years of HAART. Taking advantage of the extensive length polymorphism in HIV-1 env, we found that in five patients who did not show HIV-1 replication during treatment, the rebound virus was identical to those isolated from the latent reservoir. In three other patients, two of whom had been free of plasma viremia but had showed some residual viral replication, the rebound virus was genetically different from the latent reservoir virus, corresponding instead to minor viral variants detected during the course of treatment in lymphoid tissues. We conclude that in cases with apparent complete HIV-1 suppression by HAART, viral rebound after cessation of therapy could have originated from the activation of virus from the latent reservoir. In patients with incomplete suppression by chemotherapy, however, the viral rebound is likely triggered by ongoing, low-level replication of HIV-1, perhaps occurring in lymphoid tissues.
Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has limited the replication and spread of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). However, despite treatment, HIV infection persists in latently infected reservoirs, and once therapy is interrupted, viral replication rebounds quickly. Extensive efforts are being directed at eliminating these cell reservoirs. This feat can be achieved by reactivating latent HIV while administering drugs that prevent new rounds of infection and allow the immune system to clear the virus. However, current approaches to HIV eradication have not been effective. Moreover, as HIV latency is multifactorial, the significance of each of its molecular mechanisms is still under debate. Among these, transcriptional repression as a result of reduced levels and activity of the positive transcription elongation factor b (P-TEFb: CDK9/cyclin T) plays a significant role. Therefore, increasing levels of P-TEFb expression and activity is an excellent strategy to stimulate viral gene expression. This review summarizes the multiple steps that cause HIV to enter into latency. It positions the interplay between transcriptionally active and inactive host transcriptional activators and their viral partner Tat as valid targets for the development of new strategies to reactivate latent viral gene expression and eradicate HIV.
HIV latency; transcriptional interference; epigenetic; Tat; positive transcription elongation factor b (P-TEFb).
Antiretroviral therapy is currently only capable of controlling HIV replication rather than completely eradicating virus from patients. This is due in part to the establishment of a latent virus reservoir in resting CD4+ T cells, which persists even in the presence of HAART. It is thought that forced activation of latently infected cells could induce virus production, allowing targeting of the cell by the immune response. A variety of molecules are able to stimulate HIV from latency. However no tested purging strategy has proven capable of eliminating the infection completely or preventing viral rebound if therapy is stopped. Hence novel latency activation approaches are required. Nanoparticles can offer several advantages over more traditional drug delivery methods, including improved drug solubility, stability, and the ability to simultaneously target multiple different molecules to particular cell or tissue types. Here we describe the development of a novel lipid nanoparticle with the protein kinase C activator bryostatin-2 incorporated (LNP-Bry). These particles can target and activate primary human CD4+ T-cells and stimulate latent virus production from human T-cell lines in vitro and from latently infected cells in a humanized mouse model ex vivo. This activation was synergistically enhanced by the HDAC inhibitor sodium butyrate. Furthermore, LNP-Bry can also be loaded with the protease inhibitor nelfinavir (LNP-Bry-Nel), producing a particle capable of both activating latent virus and inhibiting viral spread. Taken together these data demonstrate the ability of nanotechnological approaches to provide improved methods for activating latent HIV and provide key proof-of-principle experiments showing how novel delivery systems may enhance future HIV therapy.
Combination antiretroviral therapy, despite being potent and life-prolonging, is not curative and does not eradicate HIV-1 infection since interruption of treatment inevitably results in a rapid rebound of viremia. Reactivation of latently infected cells harboring transcriptionally silent but replication-competent proviruses is a potential source of persistent residual viremia in cART-treated patients. Although multiple reservoirs may exist, the persistence of resting CD4+ T cells carrying a latent infection represents a major barrier to eradication. In this review, we will discuss the latest reports on the molecular mechanisms that may regulate HIV-1 latency at the transcriptional level, including transcriptional interference, the role of cellular factors, chromatin organization and epigenetic modifications, the viral Tat trans-activator and its cellular cofactors. Since latency mechanisms may also operate at the post-transcriptional level, we will consider inhibition of nuclear RNA export and inhibition of translation by microRNAs as potential barriers to HIV-1 gene expression. Finally, we will review the therapeutic approaches and clinical studies aimed at achieving either a sterilizing cure or a functional cure of HIV-1 infection, with a special emphasis on the most recent pharmacological strategies to reactivate the latent viruses and decrease the pool of viral reservoirs.
HIV-1; Transcription; Post-integration latency; Persistence; Chromatin; Pharmacological strategies; Reservoirs; Therapy; Cure
Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) suppresses HIV RNA viral load below the limit of detection for many patients. However, clinical data demonstrates that the HIV virus is not eradicated by HAART, even in patients who have had no detectable virus for 7 years . One possible reason is that a stable resting latent reservoir with a long half-life exists in resting memory CD4+T cells . In this paper, we propose a mathematical model with a constant contribution of a stable latent reservoir and identified this constant by using one patient’s data from AutoVac HAART interruption study . Many patients also have transient rebounds of plasma viral RNA (viral blips) under otherwise successful control of the virus by HAART. Activation of latently infected cells can explain these transient rebounds of viral load. Little quantitative analysis about the activation of reservoir has been done based on any clinical experiment data. Here, we model the activation dynamics of the reservoir by a time-independent activation rate and estimate this rate by using the clinical data from the AutoVac HAART interruption study .
HIV-1 eradication from infected individuals has not been achieved with the use of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) for a prolonged period of time. The cellular reservoir for HIV-1 in resting memory CD4+ T cells remains a major obstacle to viral elimination. The reservoir does not decay significantly over long periods of time but is able to release replication-competent HIV-1 upon cell activation. Residual ongoing viral replication may likely occur in many patients because low levels of virus can be detected in plasma by sensitive assays and transient episodes of viremia, or HIV-1 blips, are often observed in patients even with successful viral suppression for many years. Here we review our current knowledge of the factors contributing to viral persistence, the latent reservoir, and blips, and mathematical models developed to explore them and their relationships. We show how mathematical modeling can help improve our understanding of HIV-1 dynamics in patients on HAART and of the quantitative events underlying HIV-1 latency, reservoir stability, low-level viremic persistence, and emergence of intermittent viral blips. We also discuss treatment implications related to these studies.
HIV-1; HAART; low-level viremia; latency; viral reservoirs; blips; mathematical models
The treatment of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), a combination of three or more antiretroviral drugs, suppresses viremia below the clinical limit of detection (50 HIV-1 RNA copies/ml), but latently infected resting CD4+ T cells serve as lifelong reservoirs, and low-level viremia can be detected with special assays. Recent studies have provided evidence for additional reservoirs that contribute to residual viremia but are not present in circulating cells. Identification of all the sources of residual viremia in humans may be difficult. These discoveries highlight the need for a tractable model system to identify additional viral reservoirs that could represent barriers to eradication. In this study, simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV)-infected pig-tailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina) were treated with four antiretroviral drugs to develop an animal model for viral suppression during effective HAART. Treatment led to a biphasic decay in viremia and a significant rise in levels of circulating CD4+ T cells. At terminal infection time points, the frequency of circulating resting CD4+ T cells harboring replication-competent virus was reduced to a low steady-state level similar to that observed for HIV-infected patients on HAART. The frequencies of resting CD4+ T cells harboring replication-competent virus in the pooled head lymph nodes, gut lymph nodes, spleen, and peripheral blood were reduced relative to those for untreated SIV-infected animals. These observations closely parallel findings for HIV-infected humans on suppressive HAART and demonstrate the value of this animal model to identify and characterize viral reservoirs persisting in the setting of suppressive antiretroviral drugs.
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) establishes a latent reservoir in resting memory CD4+ T cells. This latent reservoir is a major barrier to the eradication of HIV-1 in infected individuals and is not affected by highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Reactivation of latent HIV-1 is a possible strategy for elimination of this reservoir. The mechanisms with which latency is maintained are unclear. In the analysis of the regulation of HIV-1 gene expression, it is important to consider the nature of HIV-1 integration sites. In this study, we analyzed the integration and transcription of latent HIV-1 in a primary CD4+ T cell model of latency. The majority of integration sites in latently infected cells were in introns of transcription units. Serial analysis of gene expression (SAGE) demonstrated that more than 90% of those host genes harboring a latent integrated provirus were transcriptionally active, mostly at high levels. For latently infected cells, we observed a modest preference for integration in the same transcriptional orientation as the host gene (63.8% versus 36.2%). In contrast, this orientation preference was not observed in acutely infected or persistently infected cells. These results suggest that transcriptional interference may be one of the important factors in the establishment and maintenance of HIV-1 latency. Our findings suggest that disrupting the negative control of HIV-1 transcription by upstream host promoters could facilitate the reactivation of latent HIV-1 in some resting CD4+ T cells.
Whereas cells productively infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) decay rapidly in the setting of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), latently infected resting CD4+ T cells decay very slowly, persisting for the lifetime of the patient and thus forming a stable reservoir for HIV-1. It has been suggested that the stability of the latent reservoir is due to low-level viral replication that continuously replenishes the reservoir despite HAART. Here, we offer the first quantitative study to our knowledge of inflow of newly infected cells into the latent reservoir due to viral replication in the setting of HAART. We make use of a previous observation that in some patients on HAART, the residual viremia is dominated by a predominant plasma clone (PPC) of HIV-1 not found in the latent reservoir. The unique sequence of the PPC serves as a functional label for new entries into the reservoir. We employ a simple mathematical model for the dynamics of the latent reservoir to constrain the inflow rate to between 0 and as few as 70 cells per day. The magnitude of the maximum daily inflow rate is small compared to the size of the latent reservoir, and therefore any inflow that occurs in patients on HAART is unlikely to significantly influence the decay rate of the reservoir. These results suggest that the stability of the latent reservoir is unlikely to arise from ongoing replication during HAART. Thus, intensification of standard HAART regimens should have minimal effects on the decay of the latent reservoir.
Latently infected resting CD4+ T cells represent a stable reservoir for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). When HIV-infected individuals are treated with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), this latent reservoir decays slowly, with a half-life of up to 44 months. As a result, latently infected resting CD4+ T cells represent the major known barrier to eradication of HIV infection. Two factors are believed to contribute to the stability of the latent reservoir in the setting of HAART: replenishment by low-level viral replication and the intrinsic stability of resting memory CD4+ T cells. Unfortunately, it has not been possible to measure replenishment of this latent reservoir. In this study, we take advantage of a cohort of patients on HAART whose plasma virus consists largely of one (patient-specific) predominant plasma clone (PPC) that is grossly underrepresented in resting CD4+ T cells. We use the PPC as a label for ongoing viral replication by observing the accumulation of the PPC in resting CD4+ T cells over time in each patient. Analysis of the rate at which the PPC accumulates in resting CD4+ T cells allows us to quantitatively infer the maximum inflow of cells into the latent reservoir for HIV. Thus, we are able to provide the first quantitative constraint to our knowledge on the replenishment rate of the latent reservoir in the setting of HAART. Our results indicate that the rate of replenishment is very small and likely not a source of stability in the setting of HAART. These results have important implications regarding therapeutic options for purging the resting CD4+ T cell reservoir and curing HIV infection. Specifically, these results suggest that the intrinsic stability of latently infected resting CD4+ T cells, and not low-level viral replication, must be targeted therapeutically in order to achieve eradication of the latent reservoir.
Despite the effectiveness of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in treating individuals infected with HIV, HAART is not a cure. A latent reservoir, composed mainly of resting CD4+T cells, drives viral rebound once therapy is stopped. Understanding the formation and maintenance of latently infected cells could provide clues to eradicating this reservoir. However, there have been discrepancies regarding the susceptibility of resting cells to HIV infection in vitro and in vivo. As we have previously shown that resting CD4+T cells are susceptible to HIV integration, we asked whether these cells were capable of producing viral proteins and if so, why resting cells were incapable of supporting productive infection. To answer this question, we spinoculated resting CD4+T cells with or without prior stimulation, and measured integration, transcription, and translation of viral proteins. We found that resting cells were capable of producing HIV Gag without supporting spreading infection. This block corresponded with low HIV envelope levels both at the level of protein and RNA and was not an artifact of spinoculation. The defect was reversed upon stimulation with IL-7 or CD3/28 beads. Thus, a population of latent cells can produce viral proteins without resulting in spreading infection. These results have implications for therapies targeting the latent reservoir and suggest that some latent cells could be cleared by a robust immune response.
While HIV is a treatable disease due to effective antiviral therapies, these drugs do not cure HIV. When therapy is stopped, a pool of infected, long-lived, treatment resistant cells re-establishes infection. These latently infected cells, mainly resting CD4+T cells, are barriers to a cure. Studying and understanding the properties of these cells is therefore important to eradicating HIV. It is believed that these latent cells do not produce viral proteins and thus are invisible to the immune system. Here, we show using an in vitro HIV model that a population of latently infected cells can produce HIV Gag. Interestingly, this protein production does not result in the release of detectable infectious virus and so the latent cells are unaffected by antiviral therapy. We therefore examined why some latent cells can produce viral proteins without viral spread. We found that resting cells have the ability to make some of the components required for spreading infection but not all are in sufficient quantity. These results have important implications for treating the latent reservoir, as our work suggests that latent cells might be recognized by a boosted immune response.
In individuals with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection, a small reservoir of resting memory CD4+ T lymphocytes carrying latent, integrated provirus persists even in patients treated for prolonged periods with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). This reservoir greatly complicates the prospects for eradicating HIV-1 infection with antiretroviral drugs. Therefore, it is critical to understand how HIV-1 latency is established and maintained. In particular, it is important to determine whether transcriptional or posttranscriptional mechanisms are involved. Therefore, HIV-1 DNA and mRNAs were measured in highly purified populations of resting CD4+ T lymphocytes from the peripheral blood of patients on long-term HAART. In such patients, the predominant form of persistent HIV-1 is latent integrated provirus. Typically, 100 HIV-1 DNA molecules were detected per 106 resting CD4+ T cells. Only very low levels of unspliced HIV-1 RNA (∼50 copies/106 resting CD4+ T cells) were detected using a reverse transcriptase PCR assay capable of detecting a single molecule of RNA standard. Levels of multiply spliced HIV-1 RNA were below the limit of detection (<50 copies/106 cells). Only 1% of the HIV-1 DNA-positive lymphocytes in this compartment could be induced to up-regulate HIV-1 mRNAs after cellular activation, indicating that most of the proviral DNA in resting CD4+ T cells either carries intrinsic defects precluding transcription or is subjected to transcriptional control mechanisms that preclude high-level production of multiply spliced mRNAs. Nevertheless, by inducing T-cell activation, it is possible to isolate replication-competent virus from resting CD4+ T lymphocytes of all infected individuals, including those on prolonged HAART. Thus, a subset of integrated proviruses (1%) remains competent for high-level mRNA production after cellular activation, and a subset of these can produce infectious virus. Measurements of steady-state levels of multiply spliced and unspliced HIV-1 RNA prior to cellular activation suggest that infected resting CD4+ T lymphocytes in blood synthesize very little viral RNA and are unlikely to be capable of producing virus. In these cells, latency appears to reflect regulation at the level of mRNA production rather than at the level of splicing or nuclear export of viral mRNAs.
Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) enables long-term suppression of plasma HIV-1 loads in infected persons, but low-level virus persists and rebounds following cessation of therapy. During HAART, this virus resides in latently infected cells, such as resting CD4+ T cells, and in other cell types that may support residual virus replication. Therapeutic eradication will require elimination of virus from all reservoirs. We report here a comprehensive analysis of these reservoirs in fluids, cells, and tissues in a rhesus macaque model that mimics HAART in HIV-infected humans. This nonhuman primate model uses RT-SHIV, a chimera of simian immunodeficiency virus containing the HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (RT). Methods were developed for extraction, preamplification, and real-time PCR analyses of viral DNA (vDNA) and viral RNA (vRNA) in tissues from RT-SHIV-infected macaques. These methods were used to identify viral reservoirs in RT-SHIV-infected macaques treated with a potent HAART regimen consisting of efavirenz, emtricitabine, and tenofovir. Plasma virus loads at necropsy ranged from 11 to 28 copies of vRNA per ml. Viral RNA and DNA were detected during HAART, in tissues from numerous anatomical locations. Additional analysis provided evidence for full-length viral RNA in tissues of animals with virus suppressed by HAART. The highest levels of vDNA and vRNA in HAART-treated macaques were in lymphoid tissues, particularly the spleen, lymph nodes, and gastrointestinal tract tissues. This study is the first comprehensive analysis of the tissue and organ distribution of a primate AIDS virus during HAART. These data demonstrate widespread persistence of residual virus in tissues during HAART.
The development of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) to treat individuals infected with HIV-1 has dramatically improved patient outcomes, but HAART still fails to cure the infection. The latent viral reservoir in resting CD4+ T cells is a major barrier to virus eradication. Elimination of this reservoir requires reactivation of the latent virus. However, strategies for reactivating HIV-1 through nonspecific T cell activation have clinically unacceptable toxicities. We describe here the development of what we believe to be a novel in vitro model of HIV-1 latency that we used to search for compounds that can reverse latency. Human primary CD4+ T cells were transduced with the prosurvival molecule Bcl-2, and the resulting cells were shown to recapitulate the quiescent state of resting CD4+ T cells in vivo. Using this model system, we screened small-molecule libraries and identified a compound that reactivated latent HIV-1 without inducing global T cell activation, 5-hydroxynaphthalene-1,4-dione (5HN). Unlike previously described latency-reversing agents, 5HN activated latent HIV-1 through ROS and NF-κB without affecting nuclear factor of activated T cells (NFAT) and PKC, demonstrating that TCR pathways can be dissected and utilized to purge latent virus. Our study expands the number of classes of latency-reversing therapeutics and demonstrates the utility of this in vitro model for finding strategies to eradicate HIV-1 infection.
The introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in 1996 has transformed a lethal disease to a chronic pathology with a dramatic decrease in mortality and morbidity of AIDS-related symptoms in infected patients. However, HAART has not allowed the cure of HIV infection, the main obstacle to HIV eradication being the existence of quiescent reservoirs. Several other problems have been encountered with HAART (such as side effects, adherence to medication, emergence of resistance and cost of treatment), and these motivate the search for new ways to treat these patients. Recent advances hold promise for the ultimate cure of HIV infection, which is the topic of this review. Besides these new strategies aiming to eliminate the virus, efforts must be made to improve current HAART. We believe that the cure of HIV infection will not be attained in the short term and that a strategy based on purging the reservoirs has to be associated with an aggressive HAART strategy.
CCR5; reservoirs; latency; purge; HAART
Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has offered a promising approach for controlling HIV-1 replication in infected individuals. However, with HARRT, HIV-1 is suppressed rather than eradicated due to persistence of HIV-1 in latent viral reservoirs. Thus, purging the virus from latent reservoirs is an important strategy toward eradicating HIV-1 infection. In this study, we discovered that the daphnane diterpene gnidimacrin, which was previously reported to have potent anti-cancer cell activity, activated HIV-1 replication and killed persistently-infected cells at picomolar concentrations. In addition to its potential to purge HIV-1 from latently infected cells, gnidimacrin potently inhibited a panel of HIV-1 R5 virus infection of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) at an average concentration lower than 10 pM. In contrast, gnidimacrin only partially inhibited HIV-1 ×4 virus infection of PBMCs. The strong anti-HIV-1 R5 virus activity of gnidimacrin was correlated with its effect on down-regulation of the HIV-1 coreceptor CCR5. The anti-R5 virus activity of gnidimacrin was completely abrogated by a selective protein kinase C beta inhibitor enzastaurin, which suggests that protein kinase C beta plays a key role in the potent anti-HIV-1 activity of gnidimacrin in PBMCs. In summary, these results suggest that gnidimacrin could activate latent HIV-1, specifically kill HIV-1 persistently infected cells, and inhibit R5 viruses at picomolar concentrations.
Eradication of HIV-1 from an infected individual cannot be achieved by current drug regimens. Viral reservoirs established early during the infection remain unaffected by anti-retroviral therapy and are able to replenish systemic infection upon interruption of the treatment. Therapeutic targeting of viral latency will require a better understanding of the basic mechanisms underlying the establishment and long-term maintenance of HIV-1 in resting memory CD4 T cells, the most prominent reservoir of transcriptional silent provirus. However, the molecular mechanisms that permit long-term transcriptional control of proviral gene expression in these cells are still not well understood. Exploring the molecular details of viral latency will provide new insights for eventual future therapeutics that aim at viral eradication.
We set out to develop a new in vitro HIV-1 latency model system using the doxycycline (dox)-inducible HIV-rtTA variant. Stable cell clones were generated with a silent HIV-1 provirus, which can subsequently be activated by dox-addition. Surprisingly, only a minority of the cells was able to induce viral gene expression and a spreading infection, eventhough these experiments were performed with the actively dividing SupT1 T cell line. These latent proviruses are responsive to TNFα treatment and alteration of the DNA methylation status with 5-Azacytidine or genistein, but not responsive to the regular T cell activators PMA and IL2. Follow-up experiments in several T cell lines and with wild-type HIV-1 support these findings.
We describe the development of a new in vitro model for HIV-1 latency and discuss the advantages of this system. The data suggest that HIV-1 proviral latency is not restricted to resting T cells, but rather an intrinsic property of the virus.
Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) can reduce human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) viremia to clinically undetectable levels. Despite this dramatic reduction, some virus is present in the blood. In addition, a long-lived latent reservoir for HIV-1 exists in resting memory CD4+ T cells. This reservoir is believed to be a source of the residual viremia and is the focus of eradication efforts. Here, we use two measures of population structure—analysis of molecular variance and the Slatkin-Maddison test—to demonstrate that the residual viremia is genetically distinct from proviruses in resting CD4+ T cells but that proviruses in resting and activated CD4+ T cells belong to a single population. Residual viremia is genetically distinct from proviruses in activated CD4+ T cells, monocytes, and unfractionated peripheral blood mononuclear cells. The finding that some of the residual viremia in patients on HAART stems from an unidentified cellular source other than CD4+ T cells has implications for eradication efforts.
Interruption of suppressive highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) in HIV-infected patients leads to increased HIV replication and viral rebound in peripheral blood. Effects of therapy interruption on gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT) have not been well investigated. We evaluated longitudinal changes in viral replication and emergence of viral variants in the context of T cell homeostasis and gene expression in GALT of three HIV-positive patients who initiated HAART during primary HIV infection but opted to interrupt therapy thereafter. Longitudinal viral sequence analysis revealed that a stable proviral reservoir was established in GALT during primary HIV infection that persisted through early HAART and post-therapy interruption. Proviral variants in GALT and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) displayed low levels of genomic diversity at all times. A rapid increase in viral loads with a modest decline of CD4+ T cells in peripheral blood was observed, while gut mucosal CD4+ T cell loss was severe following HAART interruption. This was accompanied by increased mucosal gene expression regulating interferon (IFN)-mediated antiviral responses and immune activation, a profile similar to those found in HAART-naive HIV-infected patients. Sequence analysis of rebound virus suggested that GALT was not the major contributor to the postinterruption plasma viremia nor were GALT HIV reservoirs rapidly replaced by HIV rebound variants. Our data suggest an early establishment and persistence of viral reservoirs in GALT with minimal diversity. Early detection of and therapy for HIV infection may be beneficial in controlling viral evolution and limiting establishment of diverse viral reservoirs in the mucosal compartment.
Although highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has converted HIV into a chronic disease, a reservoir of HIV latently infected resting T cells prevents the eradication of the virus from patients. To achieve eradication, HAART must be combined with drugs that reactivate the dormant viruses. We examined this problem in an established model of HIV postintegration latency by screening a library of small molecules. Initially, we identified eight molecules that reactivated latent HIV. Using them as templates, additional hits were identified by means of similarity-based virtual screening. One of those hits, 8-methoxy-6-methylquinolin-4-ol (MMQO), proved to be useful to reactivate HIV-1 in different cellular models, especially in combination with other known reactivating agents, without causing T-cell activation and with lower toxicity than that of the initial hits. Interestingly, we have established that MMQO produces Jun N-terminal protein kinase (JNK) activation and enhances the T-cell receptor (TCR)/CD3 stimulation of HIV-1 reactivation from latency but inhibits CD3-induced interleukin-2 (IL-2) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α) gene transcription. Moreover, MMQO prevents TCR-induced cell cycle progression and proliferation in primary T cells. The present study documents that the combination of biological screening in a cellular model of viral latency with virtual screening is useful for the identification of novel agents able to reactivate HIV-1. Moreover, we set the bases for a hypothetical therapy to reactivate latent HIV by combining MMQO with physiological or pharmacological TCR/CD3 stimulation.
Persistence of the latent viral reservoir has been recognized as a major obstacle to eradicating human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in infected individuals receiving antiretroviral therapy. It has been suggested that histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACis) may purge HIV in the latent viral reservoir. However, the effect of HDACis on the degree and extent of HIV expression in the latent viral reservoir has not been fully delineated. Here we demonstrate that HDACis do not induce HIV production in the latent viral reservoir of aviremic individuals. Therefore, alternative therapeutic strategies may be necessary to eliminate HIV in the latent viral reservoir.
HIV-1 latency remains a formidable barrier towards virus eradication as therapeutic attempts to purge these reservoirs are so far unsuccessful. The pool of transcriptionally silent proviruses is established early in infection and persists for a lifetime, even when viral loads are suppressed below detection levels using anti-retroviral therapy. Upon therapy interruption the reservoir can re-establish systemic infection. Different cellular reservoirs that harbor latent provirus have been described. In this study we demonstrate that HIV-1 can also establish a silent integration in actively proliferating primary T lymphocytes. Co-culturing of these proliferating T lymphocytes with dendritic cells (DCs) activated the provirus from latency. Activation did not involve DC-mediated C-type lectin DC-SIGN signaling or TCR-stimulation but was mediated by DC-secreted component(s) and cell-cell interaction between DC and T lymphocyte that could be inhibited by blocking ICAM-1 dependent adhesion. These results imply that circulating DCs could purge HIV-1 from latency and re-initiate virus replication. Moreover, our data show that viral latency can be established early after infection and supports the idea that actively proliferating T lymphocytes with an effector phenotype contribute to the latent viral reservoir. Unraveling this physiologically relevant purging mechanism could provide useful information for the development of new therapeutic strategies that aim at the eradication of HIV-1 reservoirs.
Combination therapy can suppress the viral load in HIV-1 infected individuals to undetectable levels, but does not lead to complete virus eradication. Even after many years of successful therapy the virus is still present in long-lived cells as a latently integrated provirus. HIV-1 can re-establish systemic infection from this reservoir when therapy stops. Purging attempts in patients have been unsuccessful and HIV-1 latency remains a formidable barrier to virus eradication. Different cellular reservoirs that harbor latent HIV-1 proviruses have been described to consist mainly of resting memory T lymphocytes. Yet how this reservoir in memory T lymphocytes is established is still unclear as infection of these cells is very inefficient. In this paper we demonstrate that HIV-1 can establish a latent provirus in activated effector T lymphocytes. We observed that for every virus producing cell there is at least one other cell harboring a latent provirus, illustrating that latent infections occur frequently. Proliferating T lymphocytes are generally short-lived and their contribution to the total cellular reservoir thus seems limited. However, these activated T lymphocytes can revert into resting memory T lymphocytes and become part of the long-lived viral reservoir.