JOURNAL ARTICLE

Establishment of HIV latency in primary CD4+ cells is due to epigenetic transcriptional silencing and P-TEFb restriction

Mudit Tyagi, Richard John Pearson, Jonathan Karn
Journal of Virology 2010, 84 (13): 6425-37
20410271
The development of suitable experimental systems for studying HIV latency in primary cells that permit detailed biochemical analyses and the screening of drugs is a critical step in the effort to develop viral eradication strategies. Primary CD4(+) T cells were isolated from peripheral blood and amplified by antibodies to the T-cell receptor (TCR). The cells were then infected by lentiviral vectors carrying fluorescent reporters and either the wild-type Tat gene or the attenuated H13L Tat gene. After sorting for the positive cells and reamplification, the infected cells were allowed to spontaneously enter latency by long-term cultivation on the H80 feeder cell line in the absence of TCR stimulation. By 6 weeks almost all of the cells lost fluorescent protein marker expression; however, more than 95% of these latently infected cells could be reactivated after stimulation of the TCR by alpha-CD3/CD28 antibodies. Chromatin immunoprecipitation assays showed that, analogously to Jurkat T cells, latent proviruses in primary CD4(+) T cells are enriched in heterochromatic markers, including high levels of CBF-1, histone deacetylases, and methylated histones. Upon TCR activation, there was recruitment of NF-kappaB to the promoter and conversion of heterochromatin structures present on the latent provirus to active euchromatin structures containing acetylated histones. Surprisingly, latently infected primary cells cannot be induced by tumor necrosis factor alpha because of a restriction in P-TEFb levels, which can be overcome by activation of the TCR. Thus, a combination of restrictive chromatin structures at the HIV long terminal repeat and limiting P-TEFb levels contribute to transcriptional silencing leading to latency in primary CD4(+) T cells.

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