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1.  In Vivo Attenuation of Simian Immunodeficiency Virus by Disruption of a Tyrosine-Dependent Sorting Signal in the Envelope Glycoprotein Cytoplasmic Tail 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(1):278-291.
Attenuated simian immunodeficiency viruses (SIVs) have been described that produce low levels of plasma virion RNA and exhibit a reduced capacity to cause disease. These viruses are particularly useful in identifying viral determinants of pathogenesis. In the present study, we show that mutation of a highly conserved tyrosine (Tyr)-containing motif (Yxxφ) in the envelope glycoprotein (Env) cytoplasmic tail (amino acids YRPV at positions 721 to 724) can profoundly reduce the in vivo pathogenicity of SIVmac239. This domain constitutes both a potent endocytosis signal that reduces Env expression on infected cells and a sorting signal that directs Env expression to the basolateral surface of polarized cells. Rhesus macaques were inoculated with SIVmac239 control or SIVmac239 containing either a Tyr-721-to-Ile mutation (SIVmac239Y/I) or a deletion of Tyr-721 and the preceding glycine (ΔGY). To assess the in vivo replication competence, all viruses contained a stop codon in nef that has been shown to revert during in vivo but not in vitro replication. All three control animals developed high viral loads and disease. One of two animals that received SIVmac239Y/I and two of three animals that received SIVmac239ΔGY remained healthy for up to 140 weeks with low to undetectable plasma viral RNA levels and normal CD4+ T-cell percentages. These animals exhibited ongoing viral replication as determined by detection of viral sequences and culturing of mutant viruses from peripheral blood mononuclear cells and persistent anti-SIV antibody titers. In one animal that received SIVmac239Y/I, the Ile reverted to a Tyr and was associated with a high plasma RNA level and disease, while one animal that received SIVmac239ΔGY also developed a high viral load that was associated with novel and possibly compensatory mutations in the TM cytoplasmic domain. In all control and experimental animals, the nef stop codon reverted to an open reading frame within the first 2 months of inoculation, indicating that the mutant viruses had replicated well enough to repair this mutation. These findings indicate that the Yxxφ signal plays an important role in SIV pathogenesis. Moreover, because mutations in this motif may attenuate SIV through mechanisms that are distinct from those caused by mutations in nef, this Tyr-based sorting signal represents a novel target for future models of SIV and human immunodeficiency virus attenuation that could be useful in new vaccine strategies.
PMCID: PMC113922  PMID: 11119598
2.  Three-Dimensional Imaging of HIV-1 Virological Synapses Reveals Membrane Architectures Involved in Virus Transmission 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(18):10327-10339.
HIV transmission efficiency is greatly increased when viruses are transmitted at virological synapses formed between infected and uninfected cells. We have previously shown that virological synapses formed between HIV-pulsed mature dendritic cells (DCs) and uninfected T cells contain interdigitated membrane surfaces, with T cell filopodia extending toward virions sequestered deep inside invaginations formed on the DC membrane. To explore membrane structural changes relevant to HIV transmission across other types of intercellular conjugates, we used a combination of light and focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM) to determine the three-dimensional (3D) architectures of contact regions between HIV-1-infected CD4+ T cells and either uninfected human CD4+ T cells or human fetal astrocytes. We present evidence that in each case, membrane extensions that originate from the uninfected cells, either as membrane sheets or filopodial bridges, are present and may be involved in HIV transmission from infected to uninfected cells. We show that individual virions are distributed along the length of astrocyte filopodia, suggesting that virus transfer to the astrocytes is mediated, at least in part, by processes originating from the astrocyte itself. Mechanisms that selectively disrupt the polarization and formation of such membrane extensions could thus represent a possible target for reducing viral spread.
IMPORTANCE Our findings lead to new insights into unique aspects of HIV transmission in the brain and at T cell-T cell synapses, which are thought to be a predominant mode of rapid HIV transmission early in the infection process.
PMCID: PMC4178837  PMID: 24965444
3.  Considerations in the Development of Nonhuman Primate Models of Combination Antiretroviral Therapy for Studies of AIDS Virus Suppression, Residual Virus, and Curative Strategies 
Current opinion in HIV and AIDS  2013;8(4):262-272.
Purpose of review
Animal models will be critical for preclinical evaluations of novel HIV eradication and/or functional cure strategies in the setting of suppressive combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). Here, the strengths, limitations, and challenges of recent efforts to develop nonhuman primate (NHP) models of cART-mediated suppression for use in studies of persistent virus and curative approaches are discussed.
Recent findings
A number of combinations of NHP species and viruses that recapitulate key aspects of human HIV infection have been adapted for cART-mediated suppression studies. Different cART regimens implementing drugs targeting multiple different steps of the viral life cycle have provided varying levels virologic suppression, dependent in part upon the host species, virus, drug regimen and timing, and virologic monitoring assay sensitivity. New, increasingly sensitive virologic monitoring approaches for measurements of plasma viral RNA, cell- and tissue-associated viral RNA and DNA, and the replication-competent residual viral pool in the setting of cART in NHP models are being developed to allow for the assessment of persistent virus on cART and to evaluate the impact of viral induction/eradication strategies in vivo.
Given the vagaries of each specific virus and host species, and cART regimen, each model will require further development and analysis to determine their appropriate application for addressing specific experimental questions.
PMCID: PMC3939607  PMID: 23698559
nonhuman primate; antiretroviral therapy; SIV; cure
4.  Vaccination with gag, vif, and nef Gene Fragments Affords Partial Control of Viral Replication after Mucosal Challenge with SIVmac239 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(13):7493-7516.
Broadly targeted cellular immune responses are thought to be important for controlling replication of human and simian immunodeficiency viruses (HIV and SIV). However, eliciting such responses by vaccination is complicated by immunodominance, the preferential targeting of only a few of the many possible epitopes of a given antigen. This phenomenon may be due to the coexpression of dominant and subdominant epitopes by the same antigen-presenting cell and may be overcome by distributing these sequences among several different vaccine constructs. Accordingly, we tested whether vaccinating rhesus macaques with “minigenes” encoding fragments of Gag, Vif, and Nef resulted in broadened cellular responses capable of controlling SIV replication. We delivered these minigenes through combinations of recombinant Mycobacterium bovis BCG (rBCG), electroporated recombinant DNA (rDNA) along with an interleukin-12 (IL-12)-expressing plasmid (EP rDNA plus pIL-12), yellow fever vaccine virus 17D (rYF17D), and recombinant adenovirus serotype 5 (rAd5). Although priming with EP rDNA plus pIL-12 increased the breadth of vaccine-induced T-cell responses, this effect was likely due to the improved antigen delivery afforded by electroporation rather than modulation of immunodominance. Indeed, Mamu-A*01+ vaccinees mounted CD8+ T cells directed against only one subdominant epitope, regardless of the vaccination regimen. After challenge with SIVmac239, vaccine efficacy was limited to a modest reduction in set point in some of the groups and did not correlate with standard T-cell measurements. These findings suggest that broad T-cell responses elicited by conventional vectors may not be sufficient to substantially contain AIDS virus replication.
IMPORTANCE Immunodominance poses a major obstacle to the generation of broadly targeted, HIV-specific cellular responses by vaccination. Here we attempted to circumvent this phenomenon and thereby broaden the repertoire of SIV-specific cellular responses by vaccinating rhesus macaques with minigenes encoding fragments of Gag, Vif, and Nef. In contrast to previous mouse studies, this strategy appeared to minimally affect monkey CD8+ T-cell immundominance hierarchies, as seen by the detection of only one subdominant epitope in Mamu-A*01+ vaccinees. This finding underscores the difficulty of inducing subdominant CD8+ T cells by vaccination and demonstrates that strategies other than gene fragmentation may be required to significantly alter immunodominance in primates. Although some of the regimens tested here were extremely immunogenic, vaccine efficacy was limited to a modest reduction in set point viremia after challenge with SIVmac239. No correlates of protection were identified. These results reinforce the notion that vaccine immunogenicity does not predict control of AIDS virus replication.
PMCID: PMC4054456  PMID: 24741098
5.  Molecularly Tagged Simian Immunodeficiency Virus SIVmac239 Synthetic Swarm for Tracking Independent Infection Events 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(14):8077-8090.
Following mucosal human immunodeficiency virus type 1 transmission, systemic infection is established by one or only a few viral variants. Modeling single-variant, mucosal transmission in nonhuman primates using limiting-dose inoculations with a diverse simian immunodeficiency virus isolate stock may increase variability between animals since individual variants within the stock may have substantial functional differences. To decrease variability between animals while retaining the ability to enumerate transmitted/founder variants by sequence analysis, we modified the SIVmac239 clone to generate 10 unique clones that differ by two or three synonymous mutations (molecular tags). Transfection- and infection-derived virus stocks containing all 10 variants showed limited phenotypic differences in 9 of the 10 clones. Twenty-nine rhesus macaques were challenged intrarectally or intravenously with either a single dose or repeated, limiting doses of either stock. The proportion of each variant within each inoculum and in plasma from infected animals was determined by using a novel real-time single-genome amplification assay. Each animal was infected with one to five variants, the number correlating with the dose. Longitudinal sequence analysis revealed that the molecular tags are highly stable with no reversion to the parental sequence detected in >2 years of follow-up. Overall, the viral stocks are functional and mucosally transmissible and the number of variants is conveniently discernible by sequence analysis of a small amplicon. This approach should be useful for tracking individual infection events in preclinical vaccine evaluations, long-term viral reservoir establishment/clearance research, and transmission/early-event studies.
IMPORTANCE Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 transmission is established by one or only a few viral variants. Modeling of limited variant transmission in nonhuman primates with a diverse simian immunodeficiency virus isolate stock may increase the variability between animals because of functional differences in the individual variants within the stock. To decrease such variability while retaining the ability to distinguish and enumerate transmitted/founder variants by sequence analysis, we generated a viral stock with 10 sequence-identifiable but otherwise genetically identical variants. This virus was characterized in vitro and in vivo and shown to allow discrimination of distinct transmission events. This approach provides a novel nonhuman primate challenge system for the study of viral transmission, evaluation of vaccines and other prevention approaches, and characterization of viral reservoirs and strategies to target them.
PMCID: PMC4097795  PMID: 24807714
6.  HSV-2-Driven Increase in the Expression of α4β7 Correlates with Increased Susceptibility to Vaginal SHIVSF162P3 Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(12):e1004567.
The availability of highly susceptible HIV target cells that can rapidly reach the mucosal lymphoid tissues may increase the chances of an otherwise rare transmission event to occur. Expression of α4β7 is required for trafficking of immune cells to gut inductive sites where HIV can expand and it is expressed at high level on cells particularly susceptible to HIV infection. We hypothesized that HSV-2 modulates the expression of α4β7 and other homing receptors in the vaginal tissue and that this correlates with the increased risk of HIV acquisition in HSV-2 positive individuals. To test this hypothesis we used an in vivo rhesus macaque (RM) model of HSV-2 vaginal infection and a new ex vivo model of macaque vaginal explants. In vivo we found that HSV-2 latently infected RMs appeared to be more susceptible to vaginal SHIVSF162P3 infection, had higher frequency of α4β7high CD4+ T cells in the vaginal tissue and higher expression of α4β7 and CD11c on vaginal DCs. Similarly, ex vivo HSV-2 infection increased the susceptibility of the vaginal tissue to SHIVSF162P3. HSV-2 infection increased the frequencies of α4β7high CD4+ T cells and this directly correlated with HSV-2 replication. A higher amount of inflammatory cytokines in vaginal fluids of the HSV-2 infected animals was similar to those found in the supernatants of the infected explants. Remarkably, the HSV-2-driven increase in the frequency of α4β7high CD4+ T cells directly correlated with SHIV replication in the HSV-2 infected tissues. Our results suggest that the HSV-2-driven increase in availability of CD4+ T cells and DCs that express high levels of α4β7 is associated with the increase in susceptibility to SHIV due to HSV-2. This may persists in absence of HSV-2 shedding. Hence, higher availability of α4β7 positive HIV target cells in the vaginal tissue may constitute a risk factor for HIV transmission.
Author Summary
Understanding the factors that correlate with an increased risk of acquiring HIV infection is key to identify new means of preventing HIV transmission. HSV-2 infection increases the risk of HIV transmission even in absence of visible lesions and inflammation. In order to explore HSV-2− associated factors that could explain this phenomenon, we used a model of asymptomatic HSV-2 infection in macaques and ex vivo cultures of biopsied vaginal tissue. We determined that HSV-2 infection is associated with an increase in subsets of immune cells that express high levels of α4β7, a molecule needed by the cells to reach the gut and the gut lymphoid tissues. The gut is an important site for HIV infection and pathogenesis and CD4+ T cells expressing high levels of α4β7 (α4β7high) are highly susceptible to the virus. We determined that the HSV-2-driven increase in these cells correlates with an increased susceptibility of the vaginal mucosa to SIV infection. Thus, our results suggest that an increased availability of α4β7high cells at the mucosal site of HIV exposure may constitute a risk factor for HIV acquisition in HSV-2 positive and, possibly, negative individuals.
PMCID: PMC4270786  PMID: 25521298
7.  Obituary: Remembering Michael Piatak, Jr. 
Retrovirology  2014;11(1):92.
PMCID: PMC4266953  PMID: 25516284
8.  The frequency of α4β7high memory CD4+ T cells correlates with susceptibility to rectal SIV infection 
Journal of acquired immune deficiency syndromes (1999)  2013;64(4):10.1097/QAI.0b013e31829f6e1a.
Integrin α4β7 (α4β7) mediates the homing of CD4+ T cells to gut-associated lymphoid tissues (GALT), which constitute a highly favorable environment for HIV expansion and dissemination. HIV and SIV envelope proteins bind to and signal through α4β7 and during acute infection SIV preferentially infects α4β7high CD4+ T cells. We postulated that the availability of these cells at the time of challenge could influence mucosal SIV transmission and acute viral load (VL).
We challenged 17 rhesus macaques with 3000 TCID50 of SIVmac239 rectally and followed the subsets of α4β7+ T and dendritic cells (DCs) by flow cytometry in blood and tissues, before and after challenge.
We found that the frequency of memory CD4+ T cells that expressed high levels of α4β7 (α4β7high memory CD4+ T cells) in blood before challenge correlated strongly with susceptibility to infection and acute VL. Notably, not only at the time of challenge, but also their frequency 3 weeks before challenge correlated with infection. This association extended to the rectal tissue as we observed a strong direct correlation between the frequency of α4β7high memory CD4+ T cells in blood and rectum before and after challenge. The frequency of α4β7+ myeloid DCs and α4β7high CD80+ DCs also correlated with infection and acute VL, while blood CCR5+ and CD69+ CD4+ T cells could not be associated with infection.
Our results suggest that animals with higher frequency of α4β7high CD4+ T cells in circulation and in rectal tissue could be more susceptible to SIV rectal transmission.
PMCID: PMC3815485  PMID: 23797688
HIV; SIV; mucosa transmission; integrin alpha-4 beta-7; susceptibility; gut
9.  Blocking of integrins inhibits HIV-1 infection of human cervical mucosa immune cells with free and complement-opsonized virions 
European Journal of Immunology  2013;43(9):2361-2372.
The initial interaction between HIV-1 and the host occurs at the mucosa during sexual intercourse. In cervical mucosa, HIV-1 exists both as free and opsonized virions and this might influence initial infection. We used cervical explants to study HIV-1 transmission, the effects of opsonization on infectivity, and how infection can be prevented. Complement opsonization enhanced HIV-1 infection of dendritic cells (DCs) compared with that by free HIV-1, but this increased infection was not observed with CD4+ T cells. Blockage of the α4-, β7-, and β1-integrins significantly inhibited HIV-1 infection of both DCs and CD4+ T cells. We found a greater impairment of HIV-1 infection in DCs for complement-opsonized virions compared with that of free virions when αM/β2- and α4-integrins were blocked. Blocking the C-type lectin receptor macrophage mannose receptor (MMR) inhibited infection of emigrating DCs but had no effect on CD4+ T-cell infection. We show that blocking of integrins decreases the HIV-1 infection of both mucosal DCs and CD4+ T cells emigrating from the cervical tissues. These findings may provide the basis of novel microbicidal strategies that may help limit or prevent initial infection of the cervical mucosa, thereby reducing or averting systemic HIV-1 infection.
PMCID: PMC4231223  PMID: 23686382
CD4+ T cells; Complement system; DCs; HIV; Integrins
10.  Short Communication: A Repeated Simian Human Immunodeficiency Virus Reverse Transcriptase/Herpes Simplex Virus Type 2 Cochallenge Macaque Model for the Evaluation of Microbicides 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2014;30(11):1117-1124.
Epidemiological studies suggest that prevalent herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2) infection increases the risk of HIV acquisition, underscoring the need to develop coinfection models to evaluate promising prevention strategies. We previously established a single high-dose vaginal coinfection model of simian human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV)/HSV-2 in Depo-Provera (DP)-treated macaques. However, this model does not appropriately mimic women's exposure. Repeated limiting dose SHIV challenge models are now used routinely to test prevention strategies, yet, at present, there are no reports of a repeated limiting dose cochallenge model in which to evaluate products targeting HIV and HSV-2. Herein, we show that 20 weekly cochallenges with 2–50 TCID50 simian human immunodeficiency virus reverse transcriptase (SHIV-RT) and 107 pfu HSV-2 results in infection with both viruses (4/6 SHIV-RT, 6/6 HSV-2). The frequency and level of vaginal HSV-2 shedding were significantly greater in the repeated exposure model compared to the single high-dose model (p<0.0001). We used this new model to test the Council's on-demand microbicide gel, MZC, which is active against SHIV-RT in DP-treated macaques and HSV-2 and human papillomavirus (HPV) in mice. While MZC reduced SHIV and HSV-2 infections in our repeated limiting dose model when cochallenging 8 h after each gel application, a barrier effect of carrageenan (CG) that was not seen in DP-treated animals precluded evaluation of the significance of the antiviral activity of MZC. Both MZC and CG significantly (p<0.0001) reduced the frequency and level of vaginal HSV-2 shedding compared to no gel treatment. This validates the use of this repeated limiting dose cochallenge model for testing products targeting HIV and HSV-2.
PMCID: PMC4208605  PMID: 25354024
11.  A MIV-150/Zinc Acetate Gel Inhibits SHIV-RT Infection in Macaque Vaginal Explants 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e108109.
To extend our observations that single or repeated application of a gel containing the NNRTI MIV-150 (M) and zinc acetate dihydrate (ZA) in carrageenan (CG) (MZC) inhibits vaginal transmission of simian/human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV)-RT in macaques, we evaluated safety and anti-SHIV-RT activity of MZC and related gel formulations ex vivo in macaque mucosal explants. In addition, safety was further evaluated in human ectocervical explants. The gels did not induce mucosal toxicity. A single ex vivo exposure to diluted MZC (1∶30, 1∶100) and MC (1∶30, the only dilution tested), but not to ZC gel, up to 4 days prior to viral challenge, significantly inhibited SHIV-RT infection in macaque vaginal mucosa. MZC's activity was not affected by seminal plasma. The antiviral activity of unformulated MIV-150 was not enhanced in the presence of ZA, suggesting that the antiviral activity of MZC was mediated predominantly by MIV-150. In vivo administration of MZC and CG significantly inhibited ex vivo SHIV-RT infection (51–62% inhibition relative to baselines) of vaginal (but not cervical) mucosa collected 24 h post last gel exposure, indicating barrier effect of CG. Although the inhibitory effect of MZC (65–74%) did not significantly differ from CG (32–45%), it was within the range of protection (∼75%) against vaginal SHIV-RT challenge 24 h after gel dosing. Overall, the data suggest that evaluation of candidate microbicides in macaque explants can inform macaque efficacy and clinical studies design. The data support advancing MZC gel for clinical evaluation.
PMCID: PMC4178065  PMID: 25259616
12.  Complement Opsonization of HIV-1 Results in Decreased Antiviral and Inflammatory Responses in Immature Dendritic Cells via CR3 
Immature dendritic cells (iDCs) in genital and rectal mucosa may be one of the first cells to come into contact with HIV-1 during sexual transmission of virus. HIV-1 activates the host complement system, which results in opsonization of virus by inactivated complement fragments, for example, iC3b. We investigated antiviral and inflammatory responses induced in human iDCs after exposure to free HIV-1 (F-HIV), complement-opsonized HIV-1 (C-HIV), and complement and Ab–opsonized HIV-1 (CI-HIV). F-HIV gave rise to a significantly higher expression of antiviral factors such as IFN-β, myxovirus resistance protein A, and IFN-stimulated genes, compared with C-HIV and CI-HIV. Additionally, F-HIV induced inflammatory factors such as IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α, whereas these responses were weakened or absent after C-HIV or CI-HIV exposure. The responses induced by F-HIV were TLR8-dependent with subsequent activation of IFN regulatory factor 1, p38, ERK, PI3K, and NF-κB pathways, whereas these responses were not induced by C-HIV, which instead induced activation of IFN regulatory factor 3 and Lyn. This modulation of TLR8 signaling was mediated by complement receptor 3 and led to enhanced infection. The impact that viral hijacking of the complement system has on iDC function could be an important immune evasion mechanism used by HIV-1 to establish infection in the host.
PMCID: PMC4201991  PMID: 25252956
Nature  2013;503(7475):277-280.
Neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) can confer immunity to primate lentiviruses by blocking infection in macaque models of AIDS1–4. However, earlier studies of anti-HIV 1 NAbs administered to infected individuals or humanized mice, reported poor control of virus replication and the rapid emergence of resistant variants 5–7. A new generation of anti-HIV 1 monoclonal antibodies (mAbs), possessing extraordinary potency and breadth of neutralizing activity, has recently been isolated from infected individuals 8. These NAbs target different regions of the HIV 1 envelope glycoprotein including the CD4 binding site (bs), glycans located in the V1/V2, V3, and V4 regions, and the membrane proximal external region of gp419–14. We have examined two of the new antibodies, directed to the CD4 bs and the V3 region (3BNC117 and 10-1074 respectively) for their ability to block infection and suppress viremia in macaques infected with the R5 tropic SHIVAD8 virus, which emulates many of the pathogenic and immunogenic properties of HIV 1 during infections of rhesus macaques15,16. Either antibody alone can potently block virus acquisition. When administered individually to recently infected monkeys, the 10-1074 antibody caused a rapid decline in virus loads to undetectable levels for 4 to 7 days, followed by virus rebound during which neutralization resistant variants became detectable. When administered together, a single treatment rapidly suppressed plasma viremia for 3 to 5 weeks in some long-term chronically SHIV infected animals with low CD4+ T cell levels. A second cycle of anti-HIV 1 mAb therapy, administered to two previously treated animals, successfully controlled virus rebound. These results suggest that immunotherapy or a combination of immunotherapy plus conventional antiretroviral drugs might be useful as a treatment for chronically HIV-1 infected individuals experiencing immune dysfunction.
PMCID: PMC4133787  PMID: 24172896
14.  Catching HIV ‘in the act’ with 3D electron microscopy 
Trends in microbiology  2013;21(8):397-404.
The development of a safe, effective vaccine to prevent human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is a key step for controlling the disease on a global scale. However, many aspects of HIV biology make vaccine design problematic, including the sequence diversity and structural variability of the surface envelope glycoproteins and the poor accessibility of neutralization-sensitive epitopes on the virus. In this review, we discuss recent progress in understanding HIV in a structural context using emerging tools in 3D electron microscopy, and outline how some of these advances could be important for a better understanding of mechanisms of viral entry and for vaccine design.
PMCID: PMC3773172  PMID: 23850373
Cryo-electron tomography; ion abrasion scanning electron microscopy (IA-SEM); focused ion beam scanning electron microscopy (FIB-SEM); vaccine design; virus–cell interaction
15.  Effects of Treatment with Suppressive Combination Antiretroviral Drug Therapy and the Histone Deacetylase Inhibitor Suberoylanilide Hydroxamic Acid; (SAHA) on SIV-Infected Chinese Rhesus Macaques 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102795.
Viral reservoirs–persistent residual virus despite combination antiretroviral therapy (cART)–remain an obstacle to cure of HIV-1 infection. Difficulty studying reservoirs in patients underscores the need for animal models that mimics HIV infected humans on cART. We studied SIV-infected Chinese-origin rhesus macaques (Ch-RM) treated with intensive combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) and 3 weeks of treatment with the histone deacetyalse inhibitor, suberoylanilide hydroxamic acid (SAHA).
SIVmac251 infected Ch-RM received reverse transcriptase inhibitors PMPA and FTC and integrase inhibitor L-870812 beginning 7 weeks post infection. Integrase inhibitor L-900564 and boosted protease inhibitor treatment with Darunavir and Ritonavir were added later. cART was continued for 45 weeks, with daily SAHA administered for the last 3 weeks, followed by euthanasia/necropsy. Plasma viral RNA and cell/tissue-associated SIV gag RNA and DNA were quantified by qRT-PCR/qPCR, with flow cytometry monitoring changes in immune cell populations.
Upon cART initiation, plasma viremia declined, remaining <30 SIV RNA copy Eq/ml during cART, with occasional blips. Decreased viral replication was associated with decreased immune activation and partial restoration of intestinal CD4+ T cells. SAHA was well tolerated but did not result in demonstrable treatment-associated changes in plasma or cell associated viral parameters.
The ability to achieve and sustain virological suppression makes cART-suppressed, SIV-infected Ch-RM a potentially useful model to evaluate interventions targeting residual virus. However, despite intensive cART over one year, persistent viral DNA and RNA remained in tissues of all three animals. While well tolerated, three weeks of SAHA treatment did not demonstrably impact viral RNA levels in plasma or tissues; perhaps reflecting dosing, sampling and assay limitations.
PMCID: PMC4102539  PMID: 25033210
16.  Tetherin Upregulation in Simian Immunodeficiency Virus-Infected Macaques 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(24):13917-13921.
Here we show that simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection of rhesus macaques results in rapid upregulation of tetherin (BST-2 or CD317) on peripheral blood lymphocytes, including the CD4+ CCR5+ T cell targets of virus infection, with a peak of induction that coincides with peak alpha interferon (IFN-α) levels in plasma, and that tetherin remains above baseline levels throughout chronic infection. These observations are consistent with a role for tetherin in innate immunity to immunodeficiency virus infection.
PMCID: PMC3838227  PMID: 24109219
17.  A Potent Combination Microbicide that Targets SHIV-RT, HSV-2 and HPV 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e94547.
Prevalent infection with human herpes simplex 2 (HSV-2) or human papillomavirus (HPV) is associated with increased human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) acquisition. Microbicides that target HIV as well as these sexually transmitted infections (STIs) may more effectively limit HIV incidence. Previously, we showed that a microbicide gel (MZC) containing MIV-150, zinc acetate (ZA) and carrageenan (CG) protected macaques against simian-human immunodeficiency virus (SHIV-RT) infection and that a ZC gel protected mice against HSV-2 infection. Here we evaluated a modified MZC gel (containing different buffers, co-solvents, and preservatives suitable for clinical testing) against both vaginal and rectal challenge of animals with SHIV-RT, HSV-2 or HPV. MZC was stable and safe in vitro (cell viability and monolayer integrity) and in vivo (histology). MZC protected macaques against vaginal (p<0.0001) SHIV-RT infection when applied up to 8 hours (h) prior to challenge. When used close to the time of challenge, MZC prevented rectal SHIV-RT infection of macaques similar to the CG control. MZC significantly reduced vaginal (p<0.0001) and anorectal (p = 0.0187) infection of mice when 106 pfu HSV-2 were applied immediately after vaginal challenge and also when 5×103 pfu were applied between 8 h before and 4 h after vaginal challenge (p<0.0248). Protection of mice against 8×106 HPV16 pseudovirus particles (HPV16 PsV) was significant for MZC applied up to 24 h before and 2 h after vaginal challenge (p<0.0001) and also if applied 2 h before or after anorectal challenge (p<0.0006). MZC provides a durable window of protection against vaginal infection with these three viruses and, against HSV-2 and HPV making it an excellent candidate microbicide for clinical use.
PMCID: PMC3989196  PMID: 24740100
18.  Loss of a Tyrosine-Dependent Trafficking Motif in the Simian Immunodeficiency Virus Envelope Cytoplasmic Tail Spares Mucosal CD4 Cells but Does Not Prevent Disease Progression 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(3):1528-1543.
A hallmark of pathogenic simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infections is the rapid and near-complete depletion of mucosal CD4+ T lymphocytes from the gastrointestinal tract. Loss of these cells and disruption of epithelial barrier function are associated with microbial translocation, which has been proposed to drive chronic systemic immune activation and disease progression. Here, we evaluate in rhesus macaques a novel attenuated variant of pathogenic SIVmac239, termed ΔGY, which contains a deletion of a Tyr and a proximal Gly from a highly conserved YxxØ trafficking motif in the envelope cytoplasmic tail. Compared to SIVmac239, ΔGY established a comparable acute peak of viremia but only transiently infected lamina propria and caused little or no acute depletion of mucosal CD4+ T cells and no detectable microbial translocation. Nonetheless, these animals developed T-cell activation and declining peripheral blood CD4+ T cells and ultimately progressed with clinical or pathological features of AIDS. ΔGY-infected animals also showed no infection of macrophages or central nervous system tissues even in late-stage disease. Although the ΔGY mutation persisted, novel mutations evolved, including the formation of new YxxØ motifs in two of four animals. These findings indicate that disruption of this trafficking motif by the ΔGY mutation leads to a striking alteration in anatomic distribution of virus with sparing of lamina propria and a lack of microbial translocation. Because these animals exhibited wild-type levels of acute viremia and immune activation, our findings indicate that these pathological events are dissociable and that immune activation unrelated to gut damage can be sufficient for the development of AIDS.
PMCID: PMC3554169  PMID: 23152518
19.  A Modified Zinc Acetate Gel, a Potential Nonantiretroviral Microbicide, Is Safe and Effective against Simian-Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Herpes Simplex Virus 2 Infection In Vivo 
We previously showed that a prototype gel comprising zinc acetate (ZA) in carrageenan (CG) protected mice against vaginal and rectal herpes simplex virus 2 (HSV-2) challenge as well as macaques against vaginal simian-human immunodeficiency virus reverse transcriptase (SHIV-RT) challenge. In this work, we modified buffers and cosolvents to obtain a stable, nearly iso-osmolal formulation and evaluated its safety and efficacy against SHIV-RT and HSV-2. In vitro toxicity to lactobacilli and Candida albicans was determined. Macaques were given daily doses of ZA and CG (ZA/CG) or CG alone vaginally for 14 days and challenged with SHIV-RT 24 h later. Mice were challenged vaginally or rectally with HSV-2 immediately after a single gel treatment to measure efficacy or vaginally 12 h after daily gel treatment for 7 days to evaluate the gel's impact on susceptibility to HSV-2 infection. The modified ZA/CG neither affected the viability of lactobacilli or C. albicans nor enhanced vaginal HSV-2 infection after daily ZA/CG treatment. Vaginal SHIV-RT infection of macaques was reduced by 66% (P = 0.006) when macaques were challenged 24 h after the last dose of gel. We observed 60% to 80% uninfected mice after vaginal (P < 0.0001) and rectal (P = 0.008) high-dose HSV-2 challenge. The modified ZA/CG gel is safe and effective in animal models and represents a potential candidate to limit the transmission of HIV and HSV-2.
PMCID: PMC3719770  PMID: 23752515
Prime-boost immunization with heterologous vaccines elicits potent cellular immunity. Here, we assessed the influence of various TLR ligands on SIV Gag-specific T cell immunity and protection following prime-boost immunization. Rhesus macaques (RM) were primed with SIV Gag protein emulsified in montanide ISA51 with or without TLR3 (polyinosinic-polycytidylic acid (Poly IC)), TLR4 (monophosphoryl lipid A (MPL)), TLR7/8, TLR9 (CpG) or TLR3 (Poly IC) combined with TLR7/8 ligands, then boosted with replication defective adenovirus 5 expressing SIV Gag (rAd5-Gag). After priming, RM that received SIV Gag protein plus Poly IC developed significantly higher frequencies of SIV Gag-specific CD4+ Th1 responses in blood and bronchoalveolar lavage fluid lymphocytes (BAL) compared to all other adjuvants, and low-level SIV Gag-specific CD8+ T cell responses. After the rAd5-Gag boost, the magnitude and breadth of SIV Gag-specific CD8+ T cell responses were significantly increased in RM primed with SIV Gag protein plus Poly IC, with or without the TLR7/8 ligand, or CpG. However, the anamnestic, SIV Gag-specific CD8+ T cell response to SIVmac251 challenge was not significantly enhanced by SIV Gag protein priming with any of the adjuvants. In contrast, the anamnestic SIV Gag-specific CD4+ T cell response in BAL was enhanced by SIV Gag protein priming with Poly IC or CpG, which correlated with partial control of early viral replication after SIVmac251 challenge. These results demonstrate that prime-boost vaccination with SIV Gag protein/Poly IC improves magnitude, breadth, and durability of CD4+ T cell immune responses, which may have a role in control of SIV viral replication.
PMCID: PMC3622154  PMID: 23509365
21.  Immune clearance of highly pathogenic SIV infection 
Nature  2013;502(7469):10.1038/nature12519.
Established infections with the human and simian immunodeficiency viruses (HIV, SIV) are thought to be permanent with even the most effective immune responses and anti-retroviral therapies (ART) only able to control, but not clear, these infections1–4. Whether the residual virus that maintains these infections is vulnerable to clearance is a question of central importance to the future management of millions of HIV-infected individuals. We recently reported that ~50% of rhesus macaques (RM) vaccinated with SIV protein-expressing Rhesus Cytomegalovirus (RhCMV/SIV) vectors manifest durable, aviremic control of infection with highly pathogenic SIVmac2395. Here, we demonstrate that regardless of route of challenge, RhCMV/SIV vector-elicited immune responses control SIVmac239 after demonstrable lymphatic and hematogenous viral dissemination, and that replication-competent SIV persists in multiple sites for weeks to months. However, over time, protected RM lost signs of SIV infection, showing a consistent lack of measurable plasma or tissue-associated virus using ultrasensitive assays, and loss of T cell reactivity to SIV determinants not in the vaccine. Extensive ultrasensitive RT-PCR and PCR analysis of tissues from RhCMV/SIV vector-protected RM necropsied 69–172 weeks after challenge did not detect SIV RNA or DNA over background, and replication-competent SIV was not detected in these RM by extensive co-culture analysis of tissues or by adoptive transfer of 60 million hematolymphoid cells to naïve RM. These data provide compelling evidence for progressive clearance of a pathogenic lentiviral infection, and suggest that some lentiviral reservoirs may be susceptible to the continuous effector memory T cell-mediated immune surveillance elicited and maintained by CMV vectors.
PMCID: PMC3849456  PMID: 24025770
22.  Tracking the Luminal Exposure and Lymphatic Drainage Pathways of Intravaginal and Intrarectal Inocula Used in Nonhuman Primate Models of HIV Transmission 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92830.
Over 80% of sexual HIV-1 transmissions originate from a single viral variant, but the underlying basis for this transmission bottleneck remains to be elucidated. Nonhuman primate models of mucosal virus transmission allow opportunities to gain insight into the basis of this mucosal bottleneck. We used simulated inocula consisting of either non-infectious vital dye or contrast dye with non-invasive magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to visualize mucosal exposure and passive lymphatic drainage patterns following vaginal and rectal exposures in Indian origin rhesus macaques. Results revealed a limited overall distance of dye coverage from the anal verge following 1 ml (n  = 8) intrarectally administered, which greatly increased with a 3 ml (n = 8) volume. Intravaginal dye exposure using 2 ml revealed complete coverage of the mucosa of the vagina and ectocervix, however dye was not detectable in the endocervix, uterus, fallopian tubes or ovaries in nuliparous sexually mature rhesus macaques (n = 9). In addition, following submucosal and intranodal injections of vital dye or MRI contrast dye in the rectum (n = 9), or distal and proximal vagina (n = 4), the lymphatic drainage pathways were identified as first the internal then common iliac chain followed by para-aortic lymph nodes. Drainage from the distal descending colon (n = 8) was via the para-colonic lymph nodes followed by the inferior mesenteric and para-aortic lymph nodes. Analysis after vaginal challenge with infectious SIVmac239 followed by euthanasia at day 3 revealed a pattern of viral dissemination consistent with the imaging results. These results provide insights into potential patterns of viral dissemination that can help guide efforts to better elucidate the earliest events of virus transmission and potential intervention strategies.
PMCID: PMC3965472  PMID: 24667371
23.  Restricted Replication of Xenotropic Murine Leukemia Virus-Related Virus in Pigtailed Macaques 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(6):3152-3166.
Although xenotropic murine leukemia virus-related virus (XMRV) has been previously linked to prostate cancer and myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome, recent data indicate that results interpreted as evidence of human XMRV infection reflect laboratory contamination rather than authentic in vivo infection. Nevertheless, XMRV is a retrovirus of undefined pathogenic potential that is able to replicate in human cells. Here we describe a comprehensive analysis of two male pigtailed macaques (Macaca nemestrina) experimentally infected with XMRV. Following intravenous inoculation with >1010 RNA copy equivalents of XMRV, viral replication was limited and transient, peaking at ≤2,200 viral RNA (vRNA) copies/ml plasma and becoming undetectable by 4 weeks postinfection, though viral DNA (vDNA) in peripheral blood mononuclear cells remained detectable through 119 days of follow-up. Similarly, vRNA was not detectable in lymph nodes by in situ hybridization despite detectable vDNA. Sequencing of cell-associated vDNA revealed extensive G-to-A hypermutation, suggestive of APOBEC-mediated viral restriction. Consistent with limited viral replication, we found transient upregulation of type I interferon responses that returned to baseline by 2 weeks postinfection, no detectable cellular immune responses, and limited or no spread to prostate tissue. Antibody responses, including neutralizing antibodies, however, were detectable by 2 weeks postinfection and maintained throughout the study. Both animals were healthy for the duration of follow-up. These findings indicate that XMRV replication and spread were limited in pigtailed macaques, predominantly by APOBEC-mediated hypermutation. Given that human APOBEC proteins restrict XMRV infection in vitro, human XMRV infection, if it occurred, would be expected to be characterized by similarly limited viral replication and spread.
PMCID: PMC3302341  PMID: 22238316
24.  Reduced Inflammation and Lymphoid Tissue Immunopathology in Rhesus Macaques Receiving Anti–Tumor Necrosis Factor Treatment During Primary Simian Immunodeficiency Virus Infection 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;207(6):880-892.
Background. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infections induce robust, generalized inflammatory responses that begin during acute infection and lead to pathological systemic immune activation, fibrotic damage of lymphoid tissues, and CD4+ T-cell loss, pathogenic processes that contribute to disease progression.
Methods. To better understand the contribution of tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a key regulator of acute inflammation, to lentiviral pathogenesis, rhesus macaques newly infected with SIVmac239 were treated for 12 weeks in a pilot study with adalimumab (Humira), a human anti-TNF monoclonal antibody.
Results. Adalimumab did not affect plasma SIV RNA levels or measures of T-cell immune activation (CD38 or Ki67) in peripheral blood or lymph node T cells. However, compared with untreated rhesus macaques, adalimumab-treated rhesus macaques showed attenuated expression of proinflammatory genes, decreased infiltration of polymorphonuclear cells into the T-cell zone of lymphoid tissues, and weaker antiinflammatory regulatory responses to SIV infection (ie, fewer presumed alternatively activated [ie, CD163+] macrophages, interleukin 10–producing cells, and transforming growth factor β–producing cells), along with reduced lymphoid tissue fibrosis and better preservation of CD4+ T cells.
Conclusions. While HIV/SIV replication drives pathogenesis, these data emphasize the contribution of the inflammatory response to lentiviral infection to overall pathogenesis, and they suggest that early modulation of the inflammatory response may help attenuate disease progression.
PMCID: PMC3571439  PMID: 23087435
SIV; rhesus macaque; Sooty mangabey; lymph node; inflammation; adalimumab; TNF; macrophage; fibrosis; collagen; TGFb
25.  DNA and Protein Co-Immunization Improves the Magnitude and Longevity of Humoral Immune Responses in Macaques 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91550.
We tested the concept of combining DNA with protein to improve anti-HIV Env systemic and mucosal humoral immune responses. Rhesus macaques were vaccinated with DNA, DNA&protein co-immunization or DNA prime followed by protein boost, and the magnitude and mucosal dissemination of the antibody responses were monitored in both plasma and mucosal secretions. We achieved induction of robust humoral responses by optimized DNA vaccination delivered by in vivo electroporation. These responses were greatly increased upon administration of a protein boost. Importantly, a co-immunization regimen of DNA&protein injected in the same muscle at the same time induced the highest systemic binding and neutralizing antibodies to homologous or heterologous Env as well as the highest Env-specific IgG in saliva. Inclusion of protein in the vaccine resulted in more immunized animals with Env-specific IgG in rectal fluids. Inclusion of DNA in the vaccine significantly increased the longevity of systemic humoral immune responses, whereas protein immunization, either as the only vaccine component or as boost after DNA prime, was followed by a great decline of humoral immune responses overtime. We conclude that DNA&protein co-delivery in a simple vaccine regimen combines the strength of each vaccine component, resulting in improved magnitude, extended longevity and increased mucosal dissemination of the induced antibodies in immunized rhesus macaques.
PMCID: PMC3953433  PMID: 24626482

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