HSCs are one of only a few cell types that resist HIV-1 infection despite the presence of HIV-1 receptors. An increasing number of genes have been identified that can reduce the sensitivity of cultured cells to retrovirus infection, and in this issue of the JCI, Zhang et al. identify p21Waf1/Cip1/Sdi1 (p21) as a gene product that can influence the sensitivity of HSCs to HIV-1 infection (see the related article beginning on page 473). Strikingly, p21 appears to alter the fate of nuclear HIV-1 DNA, promoting the formation of circular viral DNA forms rather than functional proviruses.
Paul D. Bieniasz