Extensive proteomic and transcriptomic changes quench the TCR/CD3 activation signal of latently HIV-1 infected T cells

Academic Article


  • The biomolecular mechanisms controlling latent HIV-1 infection, despite their importance for the development of a cure for HIV-1 infection, are only partially understood. For example, ex vivo studies have recently shown that T cell activation only triggered HIV-1 reactivation in a fraction of the latently infected CD4+ T cell reservoir, but the molecular biology of this phenomenon is unclear. We demonstrate that HIV-1 infection of primary T cells and T cell lines indeed generates a substantial amount of T cell receptor (TCR)/CD3 activation-inert latently infected T cells. RNA-level analysis identified extensive transcriptomic differences between uninfected, TCR/CD3 activation-responsive and -inert T cells, but did not reveal a gene expression signature that could functionally explain TCR/CD3 signaling inertness. Network analysis suggested a largely stochastic nature of these gene expression changes (transcriptomic noise), raising the possibility that widespread gene dysregulation could provide a reactivation threshold by impairing overall signal transduction efficacy. Indeed, compounds that are known to induce genetic noise, such as HDAC inhibitors impeded the ability of TCR/ CD3 activation to trigger HIV-1 reactivation. Unlike for transcriptomic data, pathway enrichment analysis based on phospho-proteomic data directly identified an altered TCR signaling motif. Network analysis of this data set identified drug targets that would promote TCR/CD3-mediated HIV-1 reactivation in the fraction of otherwise TCR/CD3-reactivation inert latently HIV-1 infected T cells, regardless of whether the latency models were based on T cell lines or primary T cells. The data emphasize that latent HIV-1 infection is largely the result of extensive, stable biomolecular changes to the signaling network of the host T cells harboring latent HIV-1 infection events. In extension, the data imply that therapeutic restoration of host cell responsiveness prior to the use of any activating stimulus will likely have to be an element of future HIV-1 cure therapies.
  • Published In

  • PLoS Pathogens  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Carlin E; Greer B; Lowman K; Duverger A; Wagner F; Moylan D; Dalecki A; Samuel S; Perez M; Sabbaj S
  • Volume

  • 17
  • Issue

  • 1