Date: 06 Aug 2012

Cellular and Viral Mechanisms of HIV-1 Transmission Mediated by Dendritic Cells

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Dendritic cells (DCs) play a key role in the initial infection and cell-to-cell transmission events that occur upon HIV-1 infection. DCs interact closely with CD4+ T cells, the main target of HIV-1 replication. HIV-1 challenged DCs and target CD4+ T cells form a virological synapse that allows highly efficient transmission of HIV-1 to the target CD4+ T cells, in the absence of productive HIV-1 replication in the DCs. Immature and subsets of mature DCs show distinct patterns of HIV-1 replication and cell-to-cell transmission, depending upon the maturation stimulus that is used. The cellular and viral mechanisms that promote formation of the virological synapse have been the subject of intense study and the most recent progress is discussed here. Characterizing the cellular and viral factors that affect DC-mediated cell-to-cell transmission of HIV-1 to CD4+ T cells is vitally important to understanding, and potentially blocking, the initial dissemination of HIV-1 in vivo.