ARTICLE: Proviral location affects cognate peptide-induced virus production and immune recognition of HIV-1-infected T cell clones
AUTHORS: Filippo Dragoni, Abena K Kwaa, Caroline C Traut, Rebecca T Veenhuis, Bezawit A Woldemeskel, Angelica Camilo-Contreras, Hayley E Raymond, Arbor G Dykema, Eileen P Scully, Amanda M Rosecrans, Kellie N Smith, Frederic D Bushman, Francesco R Simonetti, Joel N Blankson
JOURNAL: J Clin Invest. 2023 Nov 1;133(21):e171097. doi: 10.1172/JCI171097.
BACKGROUND: HIV-1-infected CD4+ T cells contribute to latent reservoir persistence by proliferating while avoiding immune recognition. Integration features of intact proviruses in elite controllers (ECs) and people on long-term therapy suggest that proviruses in specific chromosomal locations can evade immune surveillance. However, direct evidence of this mechanism is missing.
METHODS: In this case report, we characterized integration sites and full genome sequences of expanded T cell clones in an EC before and after chemoradiation. We identified the cognate peptide of infected clones to investigate cell proliferation and virus production induced by T cell activation, and susceptibility to autologous CD8+ T cells.
RESULTS: The proviral landscape was dominated by 2 large clones with replication-competent proviruses integrated into zinc finger (ZNF) genes (ZNF470 and ZNF721) in locations previously associated with deeper latency. A third nearly intact provirus, with a stop codon in Pol, was integrated into an intergenic site. Upon stimulation with cognate Gag peptides, infected clones proliferated extensively and produced virus, but the provirus in ZNF721 was 200-fold less inducible. While autologous CD8+ T cells decreased the proliferation of cells carrying the intergenic provirus, they had no effect on cells with the provirus in the ZNF721 gene.
CONCLUSIONS: We provide direct evidence that upon activation of infected clones by cognate antigen, the lower inducibility of intact proviruses in ZNF genes can result in immune evasion and persistence.
FUNDING: Office of the NIH Director and National Institute of Dental & Craniofacial Research; NIAID, NIH; Johns Hopkins University Center for AIDS Research.
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