Membrane nanotubes formed by contact between immune T-cells significantly increase transmission efficiency of HIV between infected and uninfected cells. The study, published online in Nature Cell Biology may explain why neutralizing antibodies fail to prevent persistent viral spread.
HIV infectivity during cell to cell viral transmission is 100-1000 times more efficient than infection with virus from outside of the cell. Daniel Davis and colleagues identify of a novel route for HIV-1 infection through nanotubes between T cells - a type of white blood cell important for cell-mediated immunity. Once formed, T-cell nanotubes maintain a dynamic junction between cells but HIV-1 can cross this junction and infect the new cell.
The ability of HIV-1 to spread between cells is a major determinant of virulence; therefore identification of this new route could provide new targets for HIV-therapeutic drugs.
Daniel Davis (Imperial College London, UK)
Abstract available online.
(C) Nature Cell Biology press release.
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