OPEN Cell reports | 14 Jun 2016
KM Law, NL Komarova, AW Yewdall, RK Lee, OL Herrera, D Wodarz and BK Chen
HIV-1 infection is enhanced by adhesive structures that form between infected and uninfected T cells called virological synapses (VSs). This mode of transmission results in the frequent co-transmission of multiple copies of HIV-1 across the VS, which can reduce sensitivity to antiretroviral drugs. Studying HIV-1 infection of humanized mice, we measured the frequency of co-transmission and the spatiotemporal organization of infected cells as indicators of cell-to-cell transmission in vivo. When inoculating mice with cells co-infected with two viral genotypes, we observed high levels of co-transmission to target cells. Additionally, micro-anatomical clustering of viral genotypes within lymphoid tissue indicates that viral spread is driven by local processes and not a diffuse viral cloud. Intravital splenic imaging reveals that anchored HIV-infected cells induce arrest of interacting, uninfected CD4(+) T cells to form Env-dependent cell-cell conjugates. These findings suggest that HIV-1 spread between immune cells can be anatomically localized into infectious clusters.
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