Stable phenotypic changes of the host T cells are essential to the long-term stability of latent HIV-1 infection

Academic Article


  • The extreme stability of the latent HIV-1 reservoir in the CD4+ memory T cell population prevents viral eradication with current antiretroviral therapy. It has been demonstrated that homeostatic T cell proliferation and clonal expansion of latently infected T cells due to viral integration into specific genes contribute to this extraordinary reservoir stability. Nevertheless, given the constant exposure of the memory T cell population to specific antigen or bystander activation, this reservoir stability seems remarkable, unless it is assumed that latent HIV-1 resides exclusively in memory T cells that recognize rare antigens. Another explanation for the stability of the reservoir could be that the latent HIV-1 reservoir is associated with an unresponsive T cell phenotype. We demonstrate here that host cells of latent HIV-1 infection events were functionally altered in ways that are consistent with the idea of an anergic, unresponsive T cell phenotype. Manipulations that induced or mimicked an anergic T cell state promoted latent HIV-1 infection. Kinome analysis data reflected this altered host cell phenotype at a system-wide level and revealed how the stable kinase activity changes networked to stabilize latent HIV-1 infection. Protein-protein interaction networks generated from kinome data could further be used to guide targeted genetic or pharmacological manipulations that alter the stability of latent HIV-1 infection. In summary, our data demonstrate that stable changes to the signal transduction and transcription factor network of latently HIV-1 infected host cells are essential to the ability of HIV-1 to establish and maintain latent HIV-1 infection status. IMPORTANCE: The extreme stability of the latent HIV-1 reservoir allows the infection to persist for the lifetime of a patient, despite completely suppressive antiretroviral therapy. This extreme reservoir stability is somewhat surprising, since the latently HIV-1 infected CD4+ memory T cells that form the structural basis of the viral reservoir should be exposed to cognate antigen over time. Antigen exposure would trigger a recall response and should deplete the reservoir, likely over a relatively short period. Our data demonstrate that stable and system-wide phenotypic changes to host cells are a prerequisite for the establishment and maintenance of latent HIV-1 infection events. The changes observed are consistent with an unresponsive, anergy-like T cell phenotype of latently HIV-1 infected host cells. An anergy-like, unresponsive state of the host cells of latent HIV-1 infection events would explain the stability of the HIV-1 reservoir in the face of continuous antigen exposure.
  • Published In

    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Seu L; Sabbaj S; Duverger A; Wagner F; Anderson JC; Davies E; Wolschendorf F; Willey CD; Saag MS; Goepfert P
  • Start Page

  • 6656
  • End Page

  • 6672
  • Volume

  • 89
  • Issue

  • 13