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.

September 22, 2019  |  

Blood CXCR3+CD4 T cells are enriched in inducible replication competent HIV in aviremic antiretroviral therapy-treated individuals.

We recently demonstrated that lymph nodes (LNs) PD-1+/T follicular helper (Tfh) cells from antiretroviral therapy (ART)-treated HIV-infected individuals were enriched in cells containing replication competent virus. However, the distribution of cells containing inducible replication competent virus has been only partially elucidated in blood memory CD4 T-cell populations including the Tfh cell counterpart circulating in blood (cTfh). In this context, we have investigated the distribution of (1) total HIV-infected cells and (2) cells containing replication competent and infectious virus within various blood and LN memory CD4 T-cell populations of conventional antiretroviral therapy (cART)-treated HIV-infected individuals. In the present study, we show that blood CXCR3-expressing memory CD4 T cells are enriched in cells containing inducible replication competent virus and contributed the most to the total pool of cells containing replication competent and infectious virus in blood. Interestingly, subsequent proviral sequence analysis did not indicate virus compartmentalization between blood and LN CD4 T-cell populations, suggesting dynamic interchanges between the two compartments. We then investigated whether the composition of blood HIV reservoir may reflect the polarization of LN CD4 T cells at the time of reservoir seeding and showed that LN PD-1+CD4 T cells of viremic untreated HIV-infected individuals expressed significantly higher levels of CXCR3 as compared to CCR4 and/or CCR6, suggesting that blood CXCR3-expressing CD4 T cells may originate from LN PD-1+CD4 T cells. Taken together, these results indicate that blood CXCR3-expressing CD4 T cells represent the major blood compartment containing inducible replication competent virus in treated aviremic HIV-infected individuals.

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