Integration is a central event in the replication of retroviruses, yet ≥90% of HIV-1 reverse transcripts fail to integrate, resulting in accumulation of unintegrated viral DNA in cells. However, understanding what role, if any, unintegrated viral DNA plays in the natural history of HIV-1 has remained elusive. Unintegrated HIV-1 DNA is reported to possess a limited capacity for gene expression restricted to early gene products and is considered a replicative dead end. Although the majority of peripheral blood CD4+ T cells are refractory to infection, nonactivated CD4 T cells present in lymphoid and mucosal tissues are major targets for infection. Treatment with cytokine interleukin-2 (IL-2), IL-4, IL-7, or IL-15 renders CD4+ T cells permissive to HIV-1 infection in the absence of cell activation and proliferation and provides a useful model for infection of resting CD4+ T cells. We found that infection of cytokine-treated resting CD4+ T cells in the presence of raltegravir or with integrase active-site mutant HIV-1 yielded de novo virus production following subsequent T cell activation. Infection with integration-competent HIV-1 naturally generated a population of cells generating virus from unintegrated DNA. Latent infection persisted for several weeks and could be activated to virus production by a combination of a histone deacetylase inhibitor and a protein kinase C activator or by T cell activation. HIV-1 Vpr was essential for unintegrated HIV-1 gene expression and de novo virus production in this system. Bypassing integration by this mechanism may allow the preservation of genetic information that otherwise would be lost.
HIV-1 hijacks and disrupts many processes in the cells it infects in order to suppress antiviral immunity and to facilitate its replication. Resting CD4 T cells are important early targets of HIV-1 infection in which HIV-1 must overcome intrinsic barriers to viral replication. Although resting CD4 T cells are refractory to infection in vitro, local environmental factors within lymphoid and mucosal tissues such as cytokines facilitate viral replication while maintaining the resting state. These factors can be utilized in vitro to study HIV-1 replication in resting CD4 T cells. In vivo, the migration of resting naïve and central memory T cells into lymphoid tissues is dependent upon expression of CD62L (L-selectin), a receptor that is subsequently down-modulated following T cell activation. CD62L gene transcription is maintained in resting T cells by Foxo1 and KLF2, transcription factors that maintain T cell quiescence and which regulate additional cellular processes including survival, migration, and differentiation. Here we report that HIV-1 down-modulates CD62L in productively infected naïve and memory resting CD4 T cells while suppressing Foxo1 activity and the expression of KLF2 mRNA. Partial T cell activation was further evident as an increase in CD69 expression. Several other Foxo1- and KLF2-regulated mRNA were increased or decreased in productively infected CD4 T cells, including IL-7rα, Myc, CCR5, Fam65b, S1P1 (EDG1), CD52, Cyclin D2 and p21CIP1, indicating a profound reprogramming of these cells. The Foxo1 inhibitor AS1842856 accelerated de novo viral gene expression and the sequella of infection, supporting the notion that HIV-1 suppression of Foxo1 activity may be a strategy to promote replication in resting CD4 T cells. As Foxo1 is an investigative cancer therapy target, the development of Foxo1 interventions may assist the quest to specifically suppress or activate HIV-1 replication in vivo.
While exploring the effects of aerosol IFN-γ treatment in HIV-1/tuberculosis co-infected patients, we observed A to G mutations in HIV-1 envelope sequences derived from bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) of aerosol IFN-γ-treated patients and induction of adenosine deaminase acting on RNA 1 (ADAR1) in the BAL cells. IFN-γ induced ADAR1 expression in monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM) but not T cells. ADAR1 siRNA knockdown induced HIV-1 expression in BAL cells of four HIV-1 infected patients on antiretroviral therapy. Similar results were obtained in MDM that were HIV-1 infected in
vitro. Over-expression of ADAR1 in transformed macrophages inhibited HIV-1 viral replication but not viral transcription measured by nuclear run-on, suggesting that ADAR1 acts post-transcriptionally. The A to G hyper-mutation pattern observed in ADAR1 over-expressing cells in
vitro was similar to that found in the lungs of HIV-1 infected patients treated with aerosol IFN-γ suggesting the model accurately represented alveolar macrophages. Together, these results indicate that ADAR1 restricts HIV-1 replication post-transcriptionally in macrophages harboring HIV-1 provirus. ADAR1 may therefore contribute to viral latency in macrophages.
Human immunodeficiency virus can spread through target cells by transmission of cell-free virus or directly from cell-to-cell via formation of virological synapses. Although cell-to-cell transmission has been described as much more efficient than cell-free infection, the relative contribution of the two transmission pathways to virus growth during multiple rounds of replication remains poorly defined. Here, we fit a mathematical model to previously published and newly generated in vitro data, and determine that free-virus and synaptic transmission contribute approximately equally to the growth of the virus population.
human immunodeficiency virus; mathematical model; virological synapse
Cell-to-cell viral transmission via virological synapses has been argued to reduce susceptibility of the virus population to anti-viral drugs through multiple infection of cells, contributing to low-level viral persistence during therapy. Using a mathematical framework, we examine the role of synaptic transmission in treatment susceptibility. A key factor is the relative probability of individual virions to infect a cell during free-virus and synaptic transmission, a currently unknown quantity. If this infection probability is higher for free-virus transmission, then treatment susceptibility is lowest if one virus is transferred per synapse, and multiple infection of cells increases susceptibility. In the opposite case, treatment susceptibility is minimized for an intermediate number of virions transferred per synapse. Hence, multiple infection via synapses does not simply lower treatment susceptibility. Without further experimental investigations, one cannot conclude that synaptic transmission provides an additional mechanism for the virus to persist at low levels during anti-viral therapy.
HIV can spread through its target cell population either via cell-free transmission, or by cell-to-cell transmission, presumably through virological synapses. Synaptic transmission entails the transfer of tens to hundreds of viruses per synapse, a fraction of which successfully integrate into the target cell genome. It is currently not understood how synaptic transmission affects viral fitness. Using a mathematical model, we investigate how different synaptic transmission strategies, defined by the number of viruses passed per synapse, influence the basic reproductive ratio of the virus, R0, and virus load. In the most basic scenario, the model suggests that R0 is maximized if a single virus particle is transferred per synapse. R0 decreases and the infection eventually cannot be maintained for larger numbers of transferred viruses, because multiple infection of the same cell wastes viruses that could otherwise enter uninfected cells. To explain the relatively large number of HIV copies transferred per synapse, we consider additional biological assumptions under which an intermediate number of viruses transferred per synapse could maximize R0. These include an increased burst size in multiply infected cells, the saturation of anti-viral factors upon infection of cells, and rate limiting steps during the process of synapse formation.
The dynamics of viral infections have been studied extensively in a variety of settings, both experimentally and with mathematical models. The majority of mathematical models assumes that only one virus can infect a given cell at a time. It is, however, clear that especially in the context of high viral load, cells can become infected with multiple copies of a virus, a process called coinfection. This has been best demonstrated experimentally for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), although it is thought to be equally relevant for a number of other viral infections. In a previously explored mathematical model, the viral output from an infected cell does not depend on the number of viruses that reside in the cell, i.e. viral replication is limited by cellular rather than viral factors. In this case, basic virus dynamics properties are not altered by coinfection.
Here, we explore the alternative assumption that multiply infected cells are characterized by an increased burst size and find that this can fundamentally alter model predictions. Under this scenario, establishment of infection may not be solely determined by the basic reproductive ratio of the virus, but can depend on the initial virus load. Upon infection, the virus population need not follow straight exponential growth. Instead, the exponential rate of growth can increase over time as virus load becomes larger. Moreover, the model suggests that the ability of anti-viral drugs to suppress the virus population can depend on the virus load upon initiation of therapy. This is because more coinfected cells, which produce more virus, are present at higher virus loads. Hence, the degree of drug resistance is not only determined by the viral genotype, but also by the prevalence of coinfected cells.
Our work shows how an increased burst size in multiply infected cells can alter basic infection dynamics. This forms the basis for future experimental testing of model assumptions and predictions that can distinguish between the different scenarios.
This article was reviewed by RJdeB, RMR and MK.
Multiple infection of cells; Increased burst size; HIV; Mathematical models; Virus dynamics
Percentages of activated T cells correlate with HIV-1 disease progression, but the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. We hypothesized that HLA-DR+ CD38+ (DR+ 38+) CD4+ T cells produce the majority of HIV-1 due to elevated expression of CCR5 and CXCR4. In phytohemagglutinin (PHA)-stimulated CD8-depleted peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) infected with HIV-1 green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter viruses, DR− 38+ T cells constituted the majority of CCR5 (R5)-tropic (median, 62%) and CXCR4 (X4)-tropic HIV-1-producing cells (median, 61%), although cell surface CCR5 and CXCR4 were not elevated in this subset of cells. In lymph nodes from untreated individuals infected with R5-tropic HIV-1, percentages of CCR5+ cells were elevated in DR+ 38+ CD4+ T cells (median, 36.4%) compared to other CD4+ T-cell subsets (median values of 5.7% for DR− 38− cells, 19.4% for DR+ 38− cells, and 7.6% for DR− 38+ cells; n = 18; P < 0.001). In sorted CD8− lymph node T cells, median HIV-1 RNA copies/105 cells was higher for DR+ 38+ cells (1.8 × 106) than for DR− 38− (0.007 × 106), DR− 38+ (0.064 × 106), and DR+ 38− (0.18 × 106) subsets (n = 8; P < 0.001 for all). After adjusting for percentages of subsets, a median of 87% of viral RNA was harbored by DR+ 38+ cells. Percentages of CCR5+ CD4+ T cells and concentrations of CCR5 molecules among subsets predicted HIV-1 RNA levels among CD8− DR/38 subsets (P < 0.001 for both). Median HIV-1 DNA copies/105 cells was higher in DR+ 38+ cells (5,360) than in the DR− 38− (906), DR− 38+ (814), and DR+ 38− (1,984) subsets (n = 7; P ≤ 0.031). Thus, DR+ 38+ CD4+ T cells in lymph nodes have elevated CCR5 expression, are highly susceptible to infection with R5-tropic virus, and produce the majority of R5-tropic HIV-1. PBMC assays failed to recapitulate in vivo findings, suggesting limited utility. Strategies to reduce numbers of DR+ 38+ CD4+ T cells may substantially inhibit HIV-1 replication.
During cell-to-cell transmission of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), many viral particles can be simultaneously transferred from infected to uninfected CD4 T cells through structures called virological synapses (VS). Here we directly examine how cell-free and cell-to-cell infections differ from infections initiated with cell-free virus in the number of genetic copies that are transmitted from one generation to the next, i.e., the genetic inheritance. Following exposure to HIV-1-expressing cells, we show that target cells with high viral uptake are much more likely to become infected. Using T cells that coexpress distinct fluorescent HIV-1 variants, we show that multiple copies of HIV-1 can be cotransmitted across a single VS. In contrast to cell-free HIV-1 infection, which titrates with Poisson statistics, the titration of cell-associated HIV-1 to low rates of overall infection generates a constant fraction of the newly infected cells that are cofluorescent. Triple infection was also readily detected when cells expressing three fluorescent viruses were used as donor cells. A computational model and a statistical model are presented to estimate the degree to which cofluorescence underestimates coinfection frequency. Lastly, direct detection of HIV-1 proviruses using fluorescence in situ hybridization confirmed that significantly more HIV-1 DNA copies are found in primary T cells infected with cell-associated virus than in those infected with cell-free virus. Together, the data suggest that multiploid inheritance is common during cell-to-cell HIV-1 infection. From this study, we suggest that cell-to-cell infection may explain the high copy numbers of proviruses found in infected cells in vivo and may provide a mechanism through which HIV preserves sequence heterogeneity in viral quasispecies through genetic complementation.
The capacity of immune complexes to augment antibody (Ab) responses is well established. The enhancing effects of immune complexes have been attributed mainly to Fc-mediated adjuvant activity, while the ability of Abs to induce antigenic alterations of specific epitopes as a result of immune complex formation have been less well studied. Previously we have shown that the interaction of anti-CD4-binding site (CD4bs) Abs with HIV-1 gp120 induces conformation changes that lead to enhanced antigenicity and immunogenicity of neutralizing epitopes in the V3 loop. The present study shows that significant increases in the antigenicity of the V3 and C1 regions of gp120 were attained for several subtype B gp120s and a subtype C gp120 upon immune complex formation with the anti-CD4bs monoclonal Ab (mAb) 654-D. Such enhancement was observed with immune complexes made with other anti-CD4bs mAbs and anti-V2 mAbs, but not with anti-C2 mAbs, indicating this activity is determined by antigen specificity of the mAb that formed the immune complex. When immune complexes of gp120LAI/654-D and gp120JRFL/654-D were tested as immunogens in mice, serum Abs to gp120 and V3 were generated at significantly higher titers than those induced by the respective uncomplexed gp120s. Notably, the anti-V3 Ab responses had distinct fine specificities; gp120JRFL/654-D stimulated more cross-reactive anti-V3 Abs than gp120LAI/654-D. Neutralizing activities against viruses with heterologous envelope were also detected in sera of mice immunized with gp120JRFL/654-D, although the neutralization breadth was still limited. Overall this study shows the potential use of gp120/Ab complexes to augment the immunogenicity of HIV-1 envelope gp120, but further improvements are needed to elicit virus-neutralizing Ab responses with higher potency and breadth.
HIV-1; immune complex vaccine; antibody response
Infection of individual cells with more than one HIV particle is an important feature of HIV replication, which may contribute to HIV pathogenesis via the occurrence of recombination, viral complementation and other outcomes that influence HIV replication and evolutionary dynamics. A previous mathematical model of co-infection has shown that the number of cells infected with i viruses correlates with the ith power of the singly infected cell population, and this has partly been observed in experiments. This model, however, assumed that virus spread from cell to cell occurs only via free virus particles, and that viruses and cells mix perfectly. Here, we introduce a cellular automaton model that takes into account different modes of virus spread among cells, including cell to cell transmission via the virological synapse, and spatially constrained virus spread. In these scenarios, it is found that the number of multiply infected cells correlates linearly with the number of singly infected cells, meaning that co-infection plays a greater role at lower virus loads. The model further indicates that current experimental systems that are used to study co-infection dynamics fail to reflect the true dynamics of multiply infected cells under these specific assumptions, and that new experimental techniques need to be designed to distinguish between the different assumptions.
HIV; multiple infection; mathematical model; spatial; virus spread
Retroviruses pack multiple genes into relatively small genomes by encoding several genes in the same genomic region with overlapping reading frames. Both sense and antisense HIV-1 transcripts contain open reading frames for known functional proteins as well as numerous alternative reading frames (ARFs). At least some ARFs have the potential to encode proteins of unknown function, and their antigenic properties can be considered as cryptic epitopes (CEs). To examine the extent of active immune response to virally encoded CEs, we analyzed human leukocyte antigen class I–associated polymorphisms in HIV-1 gag, pol, and nef genes from a large cohort of South Africans with chronic infection. In all, 391 CEs and 168 conventional epitopes were predicted, with the majority (307; 79%) of CEs derived from antisense transcripts. In further evaluation of CD8 T cell responses to a subset of the predicted CEs in patients with primary or chronic infection, both sense- and antisense-encoded CEs were immunogenic at both stages of infection. In addition, CEs often mutated during the first year of infection, which was consistent with immune selection for escape variants. These findings indicate that the HIV-1 genome might encode and deploy a large potential repertoire of unconventional epitopes to enhance vaccine-induced antiviral immunity.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection progresses to AIDS following an asymptomatic period during which the virus is thought to evolve towards increased fitness and pathogenicity. We show mathematically that progression to the strongest HIV-induced pathology requires evolution of the virus towards reduced replicative fitness in vivo. This counter-intuitive outcome can happen if multiple viruses co-infect the same cell frequently, which has been shown to occur in recent experiments. According to our model, in the absence of frequent co-infection, the less fit AIDS-inducing strains might never emerge. The frequency of co-infection can correlate with virus load, which in turn is determined by immune responses. Thus, at the beginning of infection when immunity is strong and virus load is low, co-infection is rare and pathogenic virus variants with reduced replicative fitness go extinct. At later stages of infection when immunity is less efficient and virus load is higher, co-infection occurs more frequently and pathogenic virus variants with reduced replicative fitness can emerge, resulting in T-cell depletion. In support of these notions, recent data indicate that pathogenic simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) strains occurring late in the infection are less fit in specific in vitro experiments than those isolated at earlier stages. If co-infection is blocked, the model predicts the absence of any disease even if virus loads are high. We hypothesize that non-pathogenic SIV infection within its natural hosts, which is characterized by the absence of disease even in the presence of high virus loads, could be explained by a reduced occurrence of co-infection in this system.
HIV dynamics; mathematical models; evolution; disease progression; coinfection; fitness
The integration of HIV-1 DNA into cellular chromatin is required for high levels of viral gene expression and for the production of new virions. However, the majority of HIV-1 DNA remains unintegrated and is generally considered a replicative dead-end. A limited amount of early gene expression from unintegrated DNA has been reported, but viral replication does not proceed further in cells which contain only unintegrated DNA. Multiple infection of cells is common, and cells that are productively infected with an integrated provirus frequently also contain unintegrated HIV-1 DNA. Here we examine the influence of an integrated provirus on unintegrated HIV-1 DNA (uDNA).
We employed reporter viruses and quantitative real time PCR to examine gene expression and virus replication during coinfection with integrating and non-integrating HIV-1. Most cells which contained only uDNA displayed no detected expression from fluorescent reporter genes inserted into early (Rev-independent) and late (Rev-dependent) locations in the HIV-1 genome. Coinfection with an integrated provirus resulted in a several fold increase in the number of cells displaying uDNA early gene expression and efficiently drove uDNA into late gene expression. We found that coinfection generates virions which package and deliver uDNA-derived genomes into cells; in this way uDNA completes its replication cycle by viral complementation. uDNA-derived genomes undergo recombination with the integrated provirus-derived genomes during second round infection.
This novel mode of retroviral replication allows survival of viruses which would otherwise be lost because of a failure to integrate, amplifies the effective amount of cellular coinfection, increases the replicating HIV-1 gene pool, and enhances the opportunity for diversification through errors of polymerization and recombination.
Immunogenic, broadly reactive epitopes of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein could serve as important targets of the adaptive humoral immune response in natural infection and, potentially, as components of an acquired immune deficiency syndrome vaccine. However, variability in exposed epitopes and a combination of highly effective envelope-cloaking strategies have made the identification of such epitopes problematic. Here, we show that the chemokine coreceptor binding site of HIV-1 from clade A, B, C, D, F, G, and H and circulating recombinant form (CRF)01, CRF02, and CRF11, elicits high titers of CD4-induced (CD4i) antibody during natural human infection and that these antibodies bind and neutralize viruses as divergent as HIV-2 in the presence of soluble CD4 (sCD4). 178 out of 189 (94%) HIV-1–infected patients had CD4i antibodies that neutralized sCD4-pretreated HIV-2 in titers (50% inhibitory concentration) as high as 1:143,000. CD4i monoclonal antibodies elicited by HIV-1 infection also neutralized HIV-2 pretreated with sCD4, and polyclonal antibodies from HIV-1–infected humans competed specifically with such monoclonal antibodies for binding. In vivo, variants of HIV-1 with spontaneously exposed coreceptor binding surfaces were detected in human plasma; these viruses were neutralized directly by CD4i antibodies. Despite remarkable evolutionary diversity among primate lentiviruses, functional constraints on receptor binding create opportunities for broad humoral immune recognition, which in turn serves to constrain the viral quasispecies.
The increasing numbers of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) strains that exhibit resistance to antiretroviral agents used at present require the development of new effective antiretroviral compounds. Tat transactivation was recognized early on as an attractive target for drug interference. To screen for and analyze the effects of compounds that interfere with Tat transactivation, we developed several cell-based reporter systems in which enhanced green fluorescence protein is a direct and quantitative marker of HIV-1 expression or Tat-dependent long terminal repeat activity. Using these reporter cell lines, we found that the bis-anthracycline WP631, a recently developed DNA intercalator, efficiently inhibits HIV-1 expression at subcytotoxic concentrations. WP631 also abrogated acute HIV-1 replication in peripheral blood mononuclear cells infected with various primary virus isolates. We demonstrate that WP631-mediated HIV-1 inhibition is caused by the inhibition of Tat transactivation. The data presented suggest that WP631 could serve as a lead compound for a new type of HIV-1 inhibitor.
Mutation rates of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) genomes have been estimated using purified reverse transcriptase or single-round infection system. Since small sequences were used as templates, the overall mutation rates could only be extrapolated and the biological significance of mutations is unknown. For direct estimation of HIV-1 mutation rates and understanding of the potential biological influences of mutations, we obtained 19 complete or nearly full-length proviral genomes from single-round-infected adherent cells of lymphocytes by using a lambda phage library method and a long-range PCR technique. Analysis of 160,000 bp of sequences showed that the overall mutation rate of HIV-1 genomes was 5.4 × 10−5 per base per replication cycle. On average, 1.1 mutations (range, 0 to 3) were generated in each viral genome during one infection cycle. Inspection of the mutations in the HIV-1 genome revealed that all site mutations within protein-coding regions were nonsynonymous mutations. Among all mutations, half were deleterious (premature stop codon and deletions) and would result in defective genomes. By applying the same system to an HIV-1 genome with a G262A mutation in the thumb region of the reverse transcriptase, a significant increase was observed in deletion and insertion mutation rates but no increase in the overall mutation rate in viral genomes was found.
The ability of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) to establish latent infections in cells has received renewed attention owing to the failure of highly active antiretroviral therapy to eradicate HIV-1 in vivo. Despite much study, the molecular bases of HIV-1 latency and reactivation are incompletely understood. Research on HIV-1 latency would benefit from a model system that is amenable to rapid and efficient analysis and through which compounds capable of regulating HIV-1 reactivation may be conveniently screened. We describe a novel reporter system that has several advantages over existing in vitro systems, which require elaborate, expensive, and time-consuming techniques to measure virus production. Two HIV-1 molecular clones (NL4-3 and 89.6) were engineered to express enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) under the control of the viral long terminal repeat without removing any viral sequences. By using these replication-competent viruses, latently infected T-cell (Jurkat) and monocyte/macrophage (THP-1) lines in which EGFP fluorescence and virus expression are tightly coupled were generated. Following reactivation with agents such as tumor necrosis factor alpha, virus expression and EGFP fluorescence peaked after 4 days and over the next 3 weeks each declined in a synchronized manner, recapitulating the establishment of latency. Using fluorescence microscopy, flow cytometry, or plate-based fluorometry, this system allows immediate, direct, and quantitative real-time analysis of these processes within single cells or in bulk populations of cells. Exploiting the single-cell analysis abilities of this system, we demonstrate that cellular activation and virus reactivation following stimulation with proinflammatory cytokines can be uncoupled.