The authors describe an HIV-positive patient with nodular regenerative hyperplasia of the liver with non-cirrhotic portal hypertension. Despite stopping the culprit drug, didanosine, the radiologic changes persisted for years. When evaluating liver pathologies, antiretroviral drugs must be included in the differential diagnosis, even when they have been stopped years ago.
The HIV1 protein Vpr assembles with and acts through an ubiquitin ligase complex that includes DDB1 and cullin 4 (CRL4) to cause G2 cell cycle arrest and to promote degradation of both uracil DNA glycosylase 2 (UNG2) and single-strand selective mono-functional uracil DNA glycosylase 1 (SMUG1). DCAF1, an adaptor protein, is required for Vpr-mediated G2 arrest through the ubiquitin ligase complex. In work described here, we used UNG2 as a model substrate to study how Vpr acts through the ubiquitin ligase complex. We examined whether DCAF1 is essential for Vpr-mediated degradation of UNG2 and SMUG1. We further investigated whether Vpr is required for recruiting substrates to the ubiquitin ligase or acts to enhance its function and whether this parallels Vpr-mediated G2 arrest.
We found that DCAF1 plays an important role in Vpr-independent UNG2 and SMUG1 depletion. UNG2 assembled with the ubiquitin ligase complex in the absence of Vpr, but Vpr enhanced this interaction. Further, Vpr-mediated enhancement of UNG2 degradation correlated with low Vpr expression levels. Vpr concentrations exceeding a threshold blocked UNG2 depletion and enhanced its accumulation in the cell nucleus. A similar dose-dependent trend was seen for Vpr-mediated cell cycle arrest.
This work identifies UNG2 and SMUG1 as novel targets for CRL4DCAF1-mediated degradation. It further shows that Vpr enhances rather than enables the interaction between UNG2 and the ubiquitin ligase. Vpr augments CRL4DCAF1-mediated UNG2 degradation at low concentrations but antagonizes it at high concentrations, allowing nuclear accumulation of UNG2. Further, the protein that is targeted to cause G2 arrest behaves much like UNG2. Our findings provide the basis for determining whether the CRL4DCAF1 complex is alone responsible for cell cycle-dependent UNG2 turnover and will also aid in establishing conditions necessary for the identification of additional targets of Vpr-enhanced degradation.
Clinical isolates that are difficult to identify by conventional means form a valuable source of novel human pathogens. We report on a 5-year study based on systematic 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis. We found 60 previously unknown 16S rRNA sequences corresponding to potentially novel bacterial taxa. For 30 of 60 isolates, clinical relevance was evaluated; 18 of the 30 isolates analyzed were considered to be associated with human disease.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) uses nasal mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (NALT) as a portal of entry to establish life-long persistence in memory B cells. We previously showed that naïve and memory B cells from NALT are equally susceptible to EBV infection. Here we show that memory B cells from NALT are significantly more susceptible to EBV infection than those from remote lymphatic organs. We identify β1 integrin, which is expressed the most by naïve B cells of distinct lymphoid origin and by memory B cells from NALT, as a mediator of increased susceptibility to infection by EBV. Furthermore, we show that BMRF-2-β1 integrin interaction and the downstream signal transduction pathway are critical for postbinding events. An increase of β1 integrin expression in peripheral blood memory B cells provoked by CD40 stimulation plus B-cell receptor cross-linking increased the susceptibility of non-NALT memory B cells to EBV infection. Thus, EBV seems to utilize the increased activation status of memory B cells residing in the NALT to establish and ensure persistence.
Bacterial translocation from the gut and subsequent immune activation are hallmarks of HIV infection and are thought to determine disease progression. Intestinal barrier integrity is impaired early in acute retroviral infection, but levels of plasma lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a marker of bacterial translocation, increase only later. We examined humanized mice infected with HIV to determine if disruption of the intestinal barrier alone is responsible for elevated levels of LPS and if bacterial translocation increases immune activation. Treating uninfected mice with dextran sodium sulfate (DSS) induced bacterial translocation, but did not result in elevated plasma LPS levels. DSS-induced translocation provoked LPS elevation only when phagocytic cells were depleted with clodronate liposomes (clodrolip). Macrophages of DSS-treated, HIV-negative mice phagocytosed more LPS ex vivo than those of control mice. In HIV-infected mice, however, LPS phagocytosis was insufficient to clear the translocated LPS. These conditions allowed higher levels of plasma LPS and CD8+ cell activation, which were associated with lower CD4+/CD8+ cell ratios and higher viral loads. LPS levels reflect both intestinal barrier and LPS clearance. Macrophages are essential in controlling systemic bacterial translocation, and this function might be hindered in chronic HIV infection.
HIV infection leads to continuous destruction of the body's immune defenses. Furthermore, disease progression is linked to heightened levels of immune activation. However, the underlying activating factors and their relationships to HIV pathogenesis are controversial. In patients with chronic HIV infection, bacteria and their products, such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS), translocate from the intestinal lumen into the systemic circulation. In the current study, we investigated the pathogenic potential of bacterial translocation in HIV-infected humanized mice. By modulating the amount of bacterial translocation in the mice, we determined that LPS elevation depends on intestinal barrier dysfunction and defective LPS clearance by macrophages. HIV-infected mice showed inadequate LPS clearance, leading to a cascade of uncontrolled bacterial translocation, T-cell activation, HIV replication, and T-cell loss. Our study highlights how important the interplay between different immune cells is for maintaining a healthy balance between immune activation with the goal to defend the body against microbes and detrimental activation that fuels HIV replication.
Rectal transmission is one of the main routes of infection by human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). To efficiently study transmission mechanisms and prevention strategies, a small animal model permissive for rectal transmission of HIV is mandatory. We tested the susceptibility of RAG2−/−γc−/− mice transplanted with human cord blood hematopoietic stem cells to rectal infection with HIV. We rectally exposed these humanized mice to cell-free and cell-associated HIV. All mice remained HIV negative as assessed by plasma viral load. The same mice infected intraperitoneally showed high levels of HIV replication. In the gut-associated lymphatic tissue, we found disproportionately smaller numbers of human cells than in other lymphoid organs. This finding may explain the observed resistance to rectal transmission of HIV. To increase the numbers of local HIV target cells and the likelihood of HIV transmission, we treated mice with different proinflammatory stimuli: local application of interleukin-1β, addition of seminal plasma to the inoculum, or induction of colitis with dextran sodium sulfate. These procedures attracted some human leukocytes, but the transmission rate was still very low. The humanized mice showed low levels of human engraftment in the intestinal tract and seem to be resistant to rectal transmission of HIV, and thus they are an unsuitable model for this application.
Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) uses tonsils as the portal of entry to establish persistent infection. EBV is found in various B-cell subsets in tonsils but exclusively in memory B cells in peripheral blood. The in vitro susceptibilities of B-cell subsets to EBV infection have been studied solely qualitatively. In this work, we examined quantitatively the in vitro susceptibilities of various B-cell subsets from different tissue origins to EBV infection. First, we established a centrifugation-based inoculation protocol (spinoculation) that resulted in a significantly increased proportion of infected cells compared to that obtained by conventional inoculation, enabling a detailed susceptibility analysis. Importantly, B-cell infection occurred via the known EBV receptors and infected cells showed EBV mRNA expression patterns similar to those observed after conventional inoculation, validating our approach. Tonsillar naïve and memory B cells were infected ex vivo at similar frequencies. In contrast, memory B cells from blood, which represent B cells from various lymphoid tissues, were infected at lower frequencies than their naïve counterparts. Immunoglobulin A (IgA)-positive or IgG-positive tonsillar memory B cells were significantly more susceptible to EBV infection than IgM-positive counterparts. Memory B cells were transformed with lower efficiency than naïve B cells. This result was paralleled by lower proliferation rates. In summary, these data suggest that EBV exploits the B-cell differentiation status and tissue origin to establish persistent infection.
We previously found that triggering TLR7/8 either by single stranded HIV RNA or synthetic compounds induced changes in the lymphoid microenvironment unfavorable to HIV. In this study, we used selective TLR7 and 8 agonists to dissect their contribution to the anti-HIV effects. While triggering TLR7 inhibited efficiently HIV replication in lymphoid suspension cells from tonsillar origin, its effect was inconsistent in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). In contrast, triggering TLR8 showed a very prominent and overall very consistent effect in PBMC and tonsillar lymphoid suspension cells. Depletion of dendritic cells (DC), Natural killer cells (NK) and CD8+ T-cells from PBMC resulted in the reversal of TLR8 induced anti-HIV effects. Especially noteworthy, depletion of either NK or CD8+ T-cells alone was only partially effective. We interpret these findings that DC are the initiator of complex changes in the microenvironment that culminates in the anti-HIV active NK and CD8+ effector cells. The near lack of NK and the low number of CD8+ T-cells in tonsillar lymphoid suspension cells may explain the lower TLR8 agonist's anti-HIV effects in that tissue. However, additional cell-type specific differences must exist since the TLR7 agonists had a very strong inhibitory effect in tonsillar lymphoid suspension cells. Separation of effector from the CD4+ target cells did not abolish the anti-HIV effects pointing to the critical role of soluble factors. Triggering TLR7 or 8 were accompanied by major changes in the cytokine milieu; however, it appeared that not a single soluble factor could be assigned for the potent effects.
These results delineate the complex effects of triggering TLR7/8 for an efficient antiviral defense. While the ultimate mechanism(s) remains unknown, the potent effects described may have therapeutic value for treating chronic viral diseases. Notably, HIV replication is blocked by TLR triggering before HIV integrates into the host chromosome which would prevent the establishment or maintenance of the latent reservoir.
Oligodeoxynucleotides (ODNs) with immunomodulatory motifs control a number of microbial infections in animal models, presumably by acting through toll-like receptor 9 (TLR9) to induce a number of cytokines (e.g., alpha interferon and tumor necrosis factor alpha). The immunomodulatory motif consists of unmethylated sequences of cytosine and guanosine (CpG motif). ODNs without CpG motifs do not trigger TLR9. We hypothesized that triggering of TLR9 generates a cellular environment unfavorable for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) replication. We tested this hypothesis in human lymphocyte cultures and found that phosphorothioate-modified ODN CpG2006 (type B ODNs) inhibited HIV replication nearly completely and prevented the loss of CD4+ T cells. ODNs CpG2216 and CpG10 (type A ODNs) were less effective. CpG2006 blocked HIV replication in purified CD4+ T cells and T-cell lines; CpG10 was ineffective in this setting, indicating that type A ODNs may inhibit HIV replication in CD4+ T-cell lines indirectly through a separate cell subset. However, control ODNs without CpG motifs also showed anti-HIV effects, indicating that these effects are nonspecific and not due to TLR9 triggering. The mechanism of action is not clear. CpG2006 and its control ODN blocked syncytium formation in a cell fusion-based assay, but CpG10, CpG2216, and their control ODNs did not. The latter types interfered with the HIV replication cycle during disassembly or reverse transcription. In contrast, CpG2006 and CpG2216 specifically induced cytokines critical to initiation of the innate immune response. In summary, the nonspecific anti-HIV activity of CpG ODNs, their ability to stimulate HIV replication in latently infected cells, potentially resulting in their elimination, and their documented ability to link the innate and adaptive immune responses make them attractive candidates for further study as anti-HIV drugs.
Progress in developing a small animal model of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) disease would greatly facilitate studies of transmission, pathogenesis, host immune responses, and antiviral strategies. In this study, we have explored the potential of rats as a susceptible host. In a single replication cycle, rat cell lines Rat2 and Nb2 produced infectious virus at levels 10- to 60-fold lower than those produced by human cells. Rat-derived cells supported substantial levels of early HIV-1 gene expression, which was further enhanced by overexpression of human cyclin T1. Rat cells displayed quantitative, qualitative, and cell-type-specific limitations in the late phase of the HIV-1 replication cycle including relative expression levels of HIV-1 Gag proteins, intracellular Gag processing, and viral egress. Nb2 cells were rendered permissive to HIV-1 R5 viruses by coexpression of human CD4 and CCR5, indicating that the major restriction on HIV-1 replication was at the level of cellular entry. We also found that primary rat lymphocytes, macrophages, and microglia expressed considerable levels of early HIV-1 gene products following infection with pseudotyped HIV-1. Importantly, primary rat macrophages and microglia, but not lymphocytes, also expressed substantial levels of HIV-1 p24 CA and produced infectious virions. Collectively, these results identify the rat as a promising candidate for a transgenic small animal model of HIV-1 infection and highlight pertinent cell-type-specific restrictions that are features of this species.
The present study sought to determine how usage of coreceptors by human immunodeficiency virus type 1 dictates cell tropism and depletion of CD4+ T cells in human lymphoid tissues cultured ex vivo. We found that coreceptor preferences control the marked, preferential depletion of coreceptor-expressing CD4+ lymphocytes. In addition, there was a strong, but not absolute, preference shown by CXCR4-using strains for lymphocytes and by CCR5-using strains for macrophages.
Since the Marburg (MBG) and Ebola (EBO) viruses have sequence homology and cause similar diseases, we hypothesized that they associate with target cells by similar mechanisms. Pseudotype viruses prepared with a luciferase-containing human immunodeficiency virus type 1 backbone and packaged by the MBG virus or the Zaire subtype EBO virus glycoproteins (GP) mediated infection of a comparable wide range of mammalian cell types, and both were inhibited by ammonium chloride. In contrast, they exhibited differential sensitivities to treatment of target cells with tunicamycin, endoglycosidase H, or protease (pronase). Therefore, while they exhibit certain functional similarities, the MBG and EBO virus GP interact with target cells by distinct processes.
The chemokine receptors CCR5 and CXCR4 function as the principal coreceptors for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). Coreceptor function has also been demonstrated for a variety of related receptors in vitro. The relative contributions of CCR5, CXCR4, and other putative coreceptors to HIV-1 disease in vivo have yet to be defined. In this study, we used sequential primary isolates and recombinant strains of HIV-1 to demonstrate that CXCR4-using (X4) viruses emerging in association with disease progression are highly pathogenic in ex vivo lymphoid tissues compared to CXCR4-independent viruses. Furthermore, synthetic receptor antagonists that specifically block CXCR4-mediated entry dramatically suppressed the depletion of CD4+ T cells by recombinant and clinically derived X4 HIV-1 isolates. Moreover, in vitro specificity for the additional coreceptors CCR3, CCR8, BOB, and Bonzo did not augment cytopathicity or diminish sensitivity toward CXCR4 antagonists in lymphoid tissues. These data provide strong evidence to support the concept that adaptation to CXCR4 specificity in vivo accelerates HIV-1 disease progression. Thus, therapeutic intervention targeting the interaction of HIV-1 gp120 with CXCR4 may be highly valuable for suppressing the pathogenic effects of late-stage viruses.
Binding of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) envelope glycoprotein gp120 to both CD4 and one of several chemokine receptors (coreceptors) permits entry of virus into target cells. Infection of tissues may establish latent viral reservoirs as well as cause direct pathologic effects that manifest as clinical disease such as HIV-associated dementia. We sought to identify the critical coreceptors recognized by HIV-1 tissue-derived strains as well as to correlate these coreceptor preferences with site of infection and dementia diagnosis. To reconstitute coreceptor use, we cloned HIV-1 envelope V3 sequences encoding the primary determinants of coreceptor specificity from 13 brain-derived and 6 colon-derived viruses into an isogenic (NL4-3) viral background. All V3 recombinants utilized the chemokine receptor CCR5 uniformly and efficiently as a coreceptor but not CXCR4, BOB/GPR15, or Bonzo/STRL33. Other receptors such as CCR3, CCR8, and US28 were inefficiently and variably used as coreceptors by various envelopes. CCR5 without CD4 present did not allow for detectable infection by any of the tested recombinants. In contrast to the pathogenic switch in coreceptor specificity frequently observed in comparisons of blood-derived viruses early after HIV-1 seroconversion and after onset of AIDS, the characteristics of these V3 recombinants suggest that CCR5 is a primary coreceptor for brain- and colon-derived viruses regardless of tissue source or diagnosis of dementia. Therefore, tissue infection may not depend significantly on viral envelope quasispeciation to broaden coreceptor range but rather selects for CCR5 use throughout disease progression.
To evaluate the feasibility of using transgenic rabbits expressing CCR5 and CD4 as a small-animal model of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV) disease, we examined whether the expression of the human chemokine receptor (CCR5) and human CD4 would render a rabbit cell line (SIRC) permissive to HIV replication. Histologically, SIRC cells expressing CD4 and CCR5 formed multinucleated cells (syncytia) upon exposure to BaL, a macrophagetropic strain of HIV that uses CCR5 for cell entry. Intracellular viral capsid p24 staining showed abundant viral gene expression in BaL-infected SIRC cells expressing CD4 and CCR5. In contrast, neither SIRC cells expressing CD4 alone nor murine 3T3 cells expressing CCR5 and CD4 exhibited significant expression of p24. These stably transfected rabbit cells were also highly permissive for the production of virions upon infection by two other CCR5-dependent strains (JR-CSF and YU-2) but not by a CXCR4-dependent strain (NL4-3). The functional integrity of these virions was demonstrated by the successful infection of human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) with viral stocks prepared from these transfected rabbit cells. Furthermore, primary rabbit PBMC were found to be permissive for production of infectious virions after circumventing the cellular entry step. These results suggest that a transgenic rabbit model for the study of HIV disease may be feasible.
To examine the role of antiretroviral drugs (ART), HIV-related and traditional risk factors on the incidence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) in HIV-infected patients.
Prospective hospital-based cohort of HIV-infected patients from 2004 to 2012.
CKD was defined using MDRD equation as an estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) less than 60 ml/mn/1.73 m2 at 2 consecutive measurements ≥3 months apart. Poisson regression models were used to study determinants of CKD either measured at baseline or updated. ART exposure was classified as ever or never. We additionally tested the role of tenofovir (TDF), whether or not prescribed concomitantly with a Protease Inhibitor (PI), taking into account the cumulative exposure to the drug.
4,350 patients (74% men) with baseline eGFR>60 ml/mn/1.73 m2 were followed for a median of 5.8 years. At the end of follow-up, 96% had received ART, one third of them (35%) jointly received TDF and a PI. Average incidence rate of CKD was 0.95% person-years of follow-up. Incidence of CKD was higher among women (IRR = 2.2), older patients (>60 y vs <45 y: IRR = 2.5 and 45–60 y: IRR = 1.7), those with diabetes (IRR = 1.9), high blood pressure (IRR = 1.5), hyperlipidemia (IRR = 1.5), AIDS stage (IRR = 1.4), low baseline eGFR (IRR = 15.8 for 6090 and IRR = 7.1 for 70500/mm3 (IRR = 2.5), and exposure to TDF (IRR = 2.0). Exposure to TDF was even strongly associated with CKD when co-administered with PIs (IRR = 3.1 vs 1.3 when not, p<0,001). A higher risk of CKD was found when tenofovir exposure was >12 months [IRR = 3.0 with joint PIs vs 1.3 without (p<0.001)]. A vast majority of those developing CKD (76.6%) had a baseline eGFR between 60 and 80 ml/mn/1.73 m2.
In patients with eGFR between 60 and 80 mL/min/1.73 m2, a thorough control of CKD risk factors is warranted. The use of TDF, especially when co-administered with PIs, should be mentioned as a relative contraindication in presence of at least one of these risk factors.
IL-27, a member of the IL-12 family of cytokines, plays an important and diverse role in the function of the immune system. Whilst generally recognized as an anti-inflammatory cytokine, in addition IL-27 has been found to have broad anti-viral effects. Recently, IL-27 has been shown to be a potent inhibitor of HIV-1 infection in CD4+ T cells and macrophages. The main objective of this study was to see whether IL-27 has a similar inhibitory effect on HIV-1 replication in dendritic cells (DCs). Monocytes were differentiated into immature DCs (iDCs) and mature DCs (mDCs) with standard techniques using a combination of GM-CSF, IL-4 and LPS. Following differentiation, iDCs were infected with HIV-1 and co-cultured in the presence or absence of IL-27. IL-27 treated DCs were shown to be highly potent inhibitors of cis HIV-1, particularly of CCR5 tropic strains. Of note, other IL-12 family members (IL-12, IL-23 and IL-35) had no effect on HIV-1 replication. Microarray studies of IL-27 treated DCs showed no up-regulation of Type I (IFN) gene expression. Neutralization of the Type-I IFN receptor had no impact on the HIV inhibition. Lastly, IL-27 mediated inhibition was shown to act post-viral entry and prior to completion of reverse transcription. These results show for the first time that IL-27 is a potent inhibitor of cis HIV-1 infection in DCs by a Type I IFN independent mechanism. IL-27 has previously been reported to inhibit HIV-1 replication in CD4+ T cells and macrophages, thus taken together, this cytokine is a potent anti-HIV agent against all major cell types targeted by the HIV-1 virus and may have a therapeutic role in the future.
HIV disease results in decreased IL-7 receptor expression and IL-7 responsiveness in T cells. To explore mechanisms of these deficiencies, we compared CD127 expression and IL-7 induction of P-STAT5 in T cells from HIV-infected persons with serum concentrations of cytokines (IL-7, IL-6 and IL-15), markers of microbial translocation (sCD14 and LPS), and with an indicator of oxidative stress (malondialdehyde (MDA) adducts). CD127 expression was directly related to IL-7 responsiveness in most CD8+ T cell subsets but not in CD4+ T cells from HIV-infected persons. MDA adducts were increased in serum of HIV-infected patients and were inversely related to IL-7 responsiveness in CD8+ T cells and in central memory CD4+ T cells. Incubation of T cells from healthy controls with hydrogen peroxide resulted in impairments in IL-7 induction of P-STAT5. These findings suggest that oxidative stress that is characteristic of HIV disease could contribute to impairments in IL-7 responsiveness and disrupt T cell homeostasis.
Newborns display distinct immune responses that contribute to susceptibility to infection and reduced vaccine responses. Toll-like receptor (TLR) agonists may serve as vaccine adjuvants, when given individually or in combination, but responses of neonatal leukocytes to many TLR agonists are diminished. TLR8 agonists are more effective than other TLR agonists in activating human neonatal leukocytes in vitro, but little is known about whether different TLR8 agonists may distinctly activate neonatal leukocytes. We characterized the in vitro immuno-stimulatory activities of a novel benzazepine TLR8 agonist, VTX-294, in comparison to imidazoquinolines that activate TLR8 (R-848; (TLR7/8) CL075; (TLR8/7)), with respect to activation of human newborn and adult leukocytes. Effects of VTX-294 and R-848 in combination with monophosphoryl lipid A (MPLA; TLR4) were also assessed.
TLR agonist specificity was assessed using TLR-transfected HEK293 cells expressing a NF-κB reporter gene. TLR agonist-induced cytokine production was measured in human newborn cord and adult peripheral blood using ELISA and multiplex assays. Newborn and adult monocytes were differentiated into monocyte-derived dendritic cells (MoDCs) and TLR agonist-induced activation assessed by cytokine production (ELISA) and co-stimulatory molecule expression (flow cytometry).
VTX-294 was ∼100x more active on TLR8- than TLR7-transfected HEK cells (EC50, ∼50 nM vs. ∼5700 nM). VTX-294-induced TNF and IL-1β production were comparable in newborn cord and adult peripheral blood, while VTX-294 was ∼ 1 log more potent in inducing TNF and IL-1β production than MPLA, R848 or CL075. Combination of VTX-294 and MPLA induced greater blood TNF and IL-1β responses than combination of R-848 and MPLA. VTX-294 also potently induced expression of cytokines and co-stimulatory molecules HLA-DR and CD86 in human newborn MoDCs.
VTX-294 is a novel ultra-potent TLR8 agonist that activates newborn and adult leukocytes and is a candidate vaccine adjuvant in both early life and adulthood.
Humanized mice reconstituted with human hematopoietic cells have been developed as an experimental animal model for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection. Myeloablative irradiation is usually performed to augment the engraftment of donor hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) in recipient mice; however, some mouse strains are susceptible to irradiation, making longitudinal analysis difficult. We previously attempted to construct humanized NOD/SCID/JAK3null (hNOJ) mice, which were not irradiated prior to human HSC transplantation. We found that, over time, many of the reconstituted CD4+ T cells expanded with an activated effector memory phenotype. Therefore, the present study used hNOJ mice that were irradiated (hNOJ (IR+)) or not (hNOJ (IR−)) prior to human HSC transplantation to examine whether the development and cellularity of the reconstituted CD4+ T cells were influenced by the degree of chimerism, and whether they affected HIV-1 infectivity. Indeed, hNOJ (IR+) mice showed a greater degree of chimerism than hNOJ (IR−) mice. However, the conversion of CD4+ T cells to an activated effector memory phenotype, with a high percentage of cells showing Ki-67 expression, occurred in both hNOJ (IR+) and hNOJ (IR−) mice, probably as a result of lymphopenia-induced homeostatic expansion. Furthermore, when hNOJ (IR+) and hNOJ (IR−) mice, which were selected as naïve- and memory CD4+ T cell subset-rich groups, respectively, were infected with CCR5-tropic HIV-1 in vivo, virus replication (as assessed by the plasma viral load) was delayed; however, the titer subsequently reached a 1-log higher level in memory-rich hNOJ (IR−) mice than in naïve-rich hNOJ (IR+) mice, indicating that virus infectivity in hNOJ mice was affected by the different status of the reconstituted CD4+ T cells. Therefore, the hNOJ mouse model should be used selectively, i.e., according to the specific experimental objectives, to gain an appropriate understanding of HIV-1 infection/pathogenesis.
Down-regulation of the HIV-1 coreceptor CCR5 holds significant potential for long-term protection against HIV-1 in patients. Using the humanized bone marrow/liver/thymus (hu-BLT) mouse model which allows investigation of human hematopoietic stem/progenitor cell (HSPC) transplant and immune system reconstitution as well as HIV-1 infection, we previously demonstrated stable inhibition of CCR5 expression in systemic lymphoid tissues via transplantation of HSPCs genetically modified by lentiviral vector transduction to express short hairpin RNA (shRNA). However, CCR5 down-regulation will not be effective against existing CXCR4-tropic HIV-1 and emergence of resistant viral strains. As such, combination approaches targeting additional steps in the virus lifecycle are required. We screened a panel of previously published shRNAs targeting highly conserved regions and identified a potent shRNA targeting the R-region of the HIV-1 long terminal repeat (LTR). Here, we report that human CD4+ T-cells derived from transplanted HSPC engineered to co-express shRNAs targeting CCR5 and HIV-1 LTR are resistant to CCR5- and CXCR4- tropic HIV-1-mediated depletion in vivo. Transduction with the combination vector suppressed CXCR4- and CCR5- tropic viral replication in cell lines and peripheral blood mononuclear cells in vitro. No obvious cytotoxicity or interferon response was observed. Transplantation of combination vector-transduced HSPC into hu-BLT mice resulted in efficient engraftment and subsequent stable gene marking and CCR5 down-regulation in human CD4+ T-cells within peripheral blood and systemic lymphoid tissues, including gut-associated lymphoid tissue, a major site of robust viral replication, for over twelve weeks. CXCR4- and CCR5- tropic HIV-1 infection was effectively inhibited in hu-BLT mouse spleen-derived human CD4+ T-cells ex vivo. Furthermore, levels of gene-marked CD4+ T-cells in peripheral blood increased despite systemic infection with either CXCR4- or CCR5- tropic HIV-1 in vivo. These results demonstrate that transplantation of HSPCs engineered with our combination shRNA vector may be a potential therapy against HIV disease.
Many human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infected individuals suffer from persistent immune activation. Chronic inflammation and immune dysregulation have been associated with an increased risk of age-related diseases even among patients on highly active antiretroviral therapy. The factors leading to immune activation are complex, but have been hypothesized to include persistent viral replication with cellular death as well as microbial translocation across the gastrointestinal tract. Both processes may trigger innate immune responses since many native molecules released from dying cells are similar in structure to pathogen associated molecular patterns. These damage associated molecular patterns include mitochondrial DNA and formylated peptides. We hypothesized that circulating mitochondrial nucleic acid could serve as a biomarker for HIV-associated cell death and drive innate immune activation in infected individuals. We developed a quantitative polymerase chain reaction assay for plasma mitochondrial DNA and validated it on normal blood donors. We then measured mitochondrial DNA levels in acute and chronic HIV infection. While the assay proved to be accurate with a robust dynamic range, we did not find a significant association between HIV disease status and circulating mitochondrial DNA. We did, however, observe a negative correlation between age and plasma mitochondrial DNA levels in individuals with well-controlled HIV.
During the process of HIV-1 fusion with the target cell, the N-terminal heptad repeat (NHR) of gp41 interacts with the C-terminal heptad repeat (CHR) to form fusogenic six-helix bundle (6-HB) core. We previously identified a crucial residue for 6-HB formation and virus entry - Lys63 (K63) in the C-terminal region of NHR (aa 54–70), which forms a hydrophobic cavity. It can form an important salt bridge with Asp121 (D121) in gp41 CHR. Here, we found another important conserved residue for virus fusion and entry, Arg46 (R46), in the N-terminal region of NHR (aa 35–53), which forms a hydrogen bond with a polar residue, Asn43 (N43), in NHR, as a part of the hydrogen-bond network. R46 can also form a salt bridge with a negatively charged residue, Glu137 (E137), in gp41 CHR. Substitution of R46 with the hydrophobic residue Ala (R46A) or the negatively charged residue Glu (R46E) resulted in disruption of the hydrogen bond network, breakage of the salt bridge and reduction of 6-HB’s stability, leading to impairment of viral fusion and decreased inhibition of N36, an NHR peptide. Similarly, CHR peptide C34 with substitution of E137 for Ala (E137A) or Arg (E137R) also exhibited reduced inhibitory activity against HIV-1 infection and HIV-1-mediated cell-to-cell fusion. These results suggest that the positively charged residue R46 and its hydrogen bond network, together with the salt bridge between R46 and E137, are important for viral fusion and entry and may therefore serve as a target for designing novel HIV fusion/entry inhibitors.
Humanized mice are expected to be useful as small animal models for in vivo studies on the pathogenesis of infectious diseases. However, it is well known that human CD8+ T cells cannot differentiate into effector cells in immunodeficient mice transplanted with only human CD34+ hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs), because human T cells are not educated by HLA in the mouse thymus. We here established HLA-B*51:01 transgenic humanized mice by transplanting human CD34+ HSCs into HLA-B*51:01 transgenic NOD/SCID/Jak3−/− mice (hNOK/B51Tg mice) and investigated whether human effector CD8+ T cells would be elicited in the mice or in those infected with HIV-1 NL4-3. There were no differences in the frequency of late effector memory and effector subsets (CD27lowCD28−CD45RA+/−CCR7− and CD27−CD28−CD45RA+/−CCR7−, respectively) among human CD8+ T cells and in that of human CD8+ T cells expressing CX3CR1 and/or CXCR1 between hNOK/B51Tg and hNOK mice. In contrast, the frequency of late effector memory and effector CD8+ T cell subsets and of those expressing CX3CR1 and/or CXCR1 was significantly higher in HIV-1-infected hNOK/B51Tg mice than in uninfected ones, whereas there was no difference in that of these subsets between HIV-1-infected and uninfected hNOK mice. These results suggest that hNOK/B51Tg mice had CD8+ T cells that were capable of differentiating into effector T cells after viral antigen stimulation and had a greater ability to elicit effector CD8+ T cells than hNOK ones.