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Retrovirology

Human immature Langerhans cells restrict CXCR4-using HIV-1 transmission.


PMID 24990163

Abstract

Sexual transmission is the main route of HIV-1 infection and the CCR5-using (R5) HIV-1 is predominantly transmitted, even though CXCR4-using (X4) HIV-1 is often abundant in chronic HIV-1 patients. The mechanisms underlying this tropism selection are unclear. Mucosal Langerhans cells (LCs) are the first immune cells to encounter HIV-1 and here we investigated the role of LCs in selection of R5 HIV-1 using an ex vivo epidermal and vaginal transmission models. Immature LCs were productively infected by X4 as well as R5 HIV-1. However, only R5 but not X4 viruses were selectively transmitted by immature LCs to T cells. Transmission of HIV-1 was depended on de novo production of HIV-1 in LCs, since it could be inhibited by CCR5 fusion inhibitors as well as reverse transcription inhibitors. Notably, the activation state of LCs affected the restriction in X4 HIV-1 transmission; immune activation by TNF facilitated transmission of X4 as well as R5 HIV-1. These data suggest that LCs play a crucial role in R5 selection and that immature LCs effectively restrict X4 at the level of transmission.