April 21, 2020  |  

The replication-competent HIV-1 latent reservoir is primarily established near the time of therapy initiation.

Although antiretroviral therapy (ART) is highly effective at suppressing HIV-1 replication, the virus persists as a latent reservoir in resting CD4+ T cells during therapy. This reservoir forms even when ART is initiated early after infection, but the dynamics of its formation are largely unknown. The viral reservoirs of individuals who initiate ART during chronic infection are generally larger and genetically more diverse than those of individuals who initiate therapy during acute infection, consistent with the hypothesis that the reservoir is formed continuously throughout untreated infection. To determine when viruses enter the latent reservoir, we compared sequences of replication-competent viruses from resting peripheral CD4+ T cells from nine HIV-positive women on therapy to viral sequences circulating in blood collected longitudinally before therapy. We found that, on average, 71% of the unique viruses induced from the post-therapy latent reservoir were most genetically similar to viruses replicating just before ART initiation. This proportion is far greater than would be expected if the reservoir formed continuously and was always long lived. We conclude that ART alters the host environment in a way that allows the formation or stabilization of most of the long-lived latent HIV-1 reservoir, which points to new strategies targeted at limiting the formation of the reservoir around the time of therapy initiation.Copyright © 2019 The Authors, some rights reserved; exclusive licensee American Association for the Advancement of Science. No claim to original U.S. Government Works.


April 21, 2020  |  

Longitudinal HIV sequencing reveals reservoir expression leading to decay which is obscured by clonal expansion.

After initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART), a rapid decline in HIV viral load is followed by a long period of undetectable viremia. Viral outgrowth assay suggests the reservoir continues to decline slowly. Here, we use full-length sequencing to longitudinally study the proviral landscape of four subjects on ART to investigate the selective pressures influencing the dynamics of the treatment-resistant HIV reservoir. We find intact and defective proviruses that contain genetic elements favoring efficient protein expression decrease over time. Moreover, proviruses that lack these genetic elements, yet contain strong donor splice sequences, increase relatively to other defective proviruses, especially among clones. Our work suggests that HIV expression occurs to a significant extent during ART and results in HIV clearance, but this is obscured by the expansion of proviral clones. Paradoxically, clonal expansion may also be enhanced by HIV expression that leads to splicing between HIV donor splice sites and downstream human exons.


October 23, 2019  |  

Sites of retroviral DNA integration: From basic research to clinical applications.

One of the most crucial steps in the life cycle of a retrovirus is the integration of the viral DNA (vDNA) copy of the RNA genome into the genome of an infected host cell. Integration provides for efficient viral gene expression as well as for the segregation of viral genomes to daughter cells upon cell division. Some integrated viruses are not well expressed, and cells latently infected with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) can resist the action of potent antiretroviral drugs and remain dormant for decades. Intensive research has been dedicated to understanding the catalytic mechanism of integration, as well as the viral and cellular determinants that influence integration site distribution throughout the host genome. In this review, we summarize the evolution of techniques that have been used to recover and map retroviral integration sites, from the early days that first indicated that integration could occur in multiple cellular DNA locations, to current technologies that map upwards of millions of unique integration sites from single in vitro integration reactions or cell culture infections. We further review important insights gained from the use of such mapping techniques, including the monitoring of cell clonal expansion in patients treated with retrovirus-based gene therapy vectors, or patients with acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) on suppressive antiretroviral therapy (ART). These insights span from integrase (IN) enzyme sequence preferences within target DNA (tDNA) at the sites of integration, to the roles of host cellular proteins in mediating global integration distribution, to the potential relationship between genomic location of vDNA integration site and retroviral latency.


July 19, 2019  |  

Defective HIV-1 proviruses are expressed and can be recognized by cytotoxic T lymphocytes, which shape the proviral landscape.

Despite antiretroviral therapy, HIV-1 persists in memory CD4(+) T cells, creating a barrier to cure. The majority of HIV-1 proviruses are defective and considered clinically irrelevant. Using cells from HIV-1-infected individuals and reconstructed patient-derived defective proviruses, we show that defective proviruses can be transcribed into RNAs that are spliced and translated. Proviruses with defective major splice donors (MSDs) can activate novel splice sites to produce HIV-1 transcripts, and cells with these proviruses can be recognized by HIV-1-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs). Further, cells with proviruses containing lethal mutations upstream of CTL epitopes can also be recognized by CTLs, potentially through aberrant translation. Thus, CTLs may change the landscape of HIV-1 proviruses by preferentially targeting cells with specific types of defective proviruses. Additionally, the expression of defective proviruses will need to be considered in the measurement of HIV-1 latency reversal. Copyright © 2017 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.


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