HIV-1 causes a chronic, incurable disease due to its persistence in CD4+ T cells that contain replication-competent provirus, but exhibit little or no active viral gene expression and effectively resist combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). These latently infected T cells represent an extremely small proportion of all circulating CD4+ T cells but possess a remarkable long-term stability and typically persist throughout life, for reasons that are not fully understood. Here we performed massive single-genome, near-full-length next-generation sequencing of HIV-1 DNA derived from unfractionated peripheral blood mononuclear cells, ex vivo-isolated CD4+ T cells, and subsets of functionally polarized memory CD4+ T cells. This approach identified multiple sets of independent, near-full-length proviral sequences from cART-treated individuals that were completely identical, consistent with clonal expansion of CD4+ T cells harboring intact HIV-1. Intact, near-full-genome HIV-1 DNA sequences that were derived from such clonally expanded CD4+ T cells constituted 62% of all analyzed genome-intact sequences in memory CD4 T cells, were preferentially observed in Th1-polarized cells, were longitudinally detected over a duration of up to 5 years, and were fully replication- and infection-competent. Together, these data suggest that clonal proliferation of Th1-polarized CD4+ T cells encoding for intact HIV-1 represents a driving force for stabilizing the pool of latently infected CD4+ T cells.
Guinevere Q. Lee, Nina Orlova-Fink, Kevin Einkauf, Fatema Z. Chowdhury, Xiaoming Sun, Sean Harrington, Hsiao-Hsuan Kuo, Stephane Hua, Hsiao-Rong Chen, Zhengyu Ouyang, Kavidha Reddy, Krista Dong, Thumbi Ndung’u, Bruce D. Walker, Eric S. Rosenberg, Xu G. Yu, Mathias Lichterfeld
The Editorial Board will only consider comments that are deemed relevant and of interest to readers. The Journal will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review; or a comment that is essentially a reiteration of another comment.