Author(s): von Schwedler U, Kornbluth RS, Trono D
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Abstract Lentiviruses, including human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1), are unusual among retroviruses in their ability to infect nondividing cells. The matrix proteins of several lentiviruses contain a short stretch of amino acids reminiscent of known nuclear localization signals. In HIV-1, this motif has been shown to function as a nuclear targeting sequence when conjugated to a heterologous protein, and to permit the active nuclear import of the HIV-1 preintegration complex in growth-arrested cells. In the present work, mutations were introduced in the matrix nuclear localization region of T-cell- and macrophage-tropic HIV-1 clones. The resulting viral mutants replicated with normal or even accelerated kinetics in dividing cells, including activated peripheral blood lymphocytes. However, in sharp contrast with wild-type virus, the mutants could not grow efficiently in terminally differentiated macrophages or establish a stable and inducible infection intermediate in unstimulated peripheral blood lymphocytes. Because macrophages represent a major viral reservoir in vivo, and because at any given time most T cells in the body are quiescent, these results strongly suggest that the karyophilic properties of the matrix protein are critical for the spread of the virus in HIV-infected individuals, and consequently for AIDS pathogenesis.
This article was published in Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
and referenced in Journal of Genetic Syndromes & Gene Therapy