Nature communications

HIV-1 Tat inhibits phagocytosis by preventing the recruitment of Cdc42 to the phagocytic cup.

PMID 25648615


Most macrophages remain uninfected in HIV-1-infected patients. Nevertheless, the phagocytic capacity of phagocytes from these patients is impaired, favouring the multiplication of opportunistic pathogens. The basis for this phagocytic defect is not known. HIV-1 Tat protein is efficiently secreted by infected cells. Secreted Tat can enter uninfected cells and reach their cytosol. Here we found that extracellular Tat, at the subnanomolar concentration present in the sera of HIV-1-infected patients, inhibits the phagocytosis of Mycobacterium avium or opsonized Toxoplasma gondii by human primary macrophages. This inhibition results from a defect in mannose- and Fcγ-receptor-mediated phagocytosis, respectively. Inhibition relies on the interaction of Tat with phosphatidylinositol (4,5)bisphosphate that interferes with the recruitment of Cdc42 to the phagocytic cup, thereby preventing Cdc42 activation and pseudopod elongation. Tat also inhibits FcγR-mediated phagocytosis in neutrophils and monocytes. This study provides a molecular basis for the phagocytic defects observed in uninfected phagocytes following HIV-1 infection.

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