The factors determining the functional avidity and its relationship with the broad heterogeneity of antiviral T cell responses remain partially understood. We investigated HIV-specific CD8 T cell responses in 85 patients with primary HIV infection (PHI) or chronic (progressive and non-progressive) infection. The functional avidity of HIV-specific CD8 T cells was not different between patients with progressive and non-progressive chronic infection. However, it was significantly lower in PHI patients at the time of diagnosis of acute infection and after control of virus replication following one year of successful antiretroviral therapy. High-avidity HIV-specific CD8 T cells expressed lower levels of CD27 and CD28 and were enriched in cells with an exhausted phenotype, i.e. co-expressing PD-1/2B4/CD160. Of note, a significant increase in the functional avidity of HIV-specific CD8 T cells occurred in early-treated PHI patients experiencing a virus rebound after spontaneous treatment interruption. This increase in functional avidity was associated with the accumulation of PD-1/2B4/CD160 positive cells, loss of polyfunctionality and increased TCR renewal. The increased TCR renewal may provide the mechanistic basis for the generation of high-avidity HIV-specific CD8 T cells. These results provide insights on the relationships between functional avidity, viremia, T-cell exhaustion and TCR renewal of antiviral CD8 T cell responses.
The majority of HIV-infected individuals fail to produce protective antibodies and have diminished responses to new immunizations. We report here that even though there is an expansion of follicular helper T (TFH) cells in HIV-infected individuals, the cells are unable to provide adequate B cell help. We found a higher frequency of programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1)(+) germinal center B cells from lymph nodes of HIV-infected individuals suggesting a potential role for PD-1-PD-L1 interaction in regulating TFH cell function. In fact, we show that engagement of PD-1 on TFH cells leads to a reduction in cell proliferation, activation, inducible T-cell co-stimulator (ICOS) expression and interleukin-21 (IL-21) cytokine secretion. Blocking PD-1 signaling enhances HIV-specific immunoglobulin production in vitro. We further show that at least part of this defect involves IL-21, as addition of this cytokine rescues antibody responses and plasma cell generation in vitro. Our results suggest that deregulation of TFH cell-mediated B cell help diminishes B cell responses during HIV infection and may be related to PD-1 triggering on TFH cells. These results demonstrate a role for TFH cell impairment in HIV pathogenesis and suggest that enhancing their function could have a major impact on the outcome and control of HIV infection, preventing future infections and improving immune responses to vaccinations.
In placental mammals, inactivation of one of the X chromosomes in female cells ensures sex chromosome dosage compensation. The 17 kb non-coding Xist RNA is crucial to this process and accumulates on the future inactive X chromosome. The most conserved Xist RNA region, the A region, contains eight or nine repeats separated by U-rich spacers. It is implicated in the recruitment of late inactivated X genes to the silencing compartment and likely in the recruitment of complex PRC2. Little is known about the structure of the A region and more generally about Xist RNA structure. Knowledge of its structure is restricted to an NMR study of a single A repeat element. Our study is the first experimental analysis of the structure of the entire A region in solution. By the use of chemical and enzymatic probes and FRET experiments, using oligonucleotides carrying fluorescent dyes, we resolved problems linked to sequence redundancies and established a 2-D structure for the A region that contains two long stem-loop structures each including four repeats. Interactions formed between repeats and between repeats and spacers stabilize these structures. Conservation of the spacer terminal sequences allows formation of such structures in all sequenced Xist RNAs. By combination of RNP affinity chromatography, immunoprecipitation assays, mass spectrometry, and Western blot analysis, we demonstrate that the A region can associate with components of the PRC2 complex in mouse ES cell nuclear extracts. Whilst a single four-repeat motif is able to associate with components of this complex, recruitment of Suz12 is clearly more efficient when the entire A region is present. Our data with their emphasis on the importance of inter-repeat pairing change fundamentally our conception of the 2-D structure of the A region of Xist RNA and support its possible implication in recruitment of the PRC2 complex.
In the present study, we have investigated the distribution of HIV-specific and HIV-infected CD4 T cells within different populations of memory CD4 T cells isolated from lymph nodes of viremic HIV-infected subjects. Four memory CD4 T cell populations were identified on the basis of the expression of CXCR5, PD-1, and Bcl-6: CXCR5(-)PD-1(-)Bcl-6(-), CXCR5(+)PD-1(-)Bcl-6(-), CXCR5(-)PD-1(+)Bcl-6(-), and CXCR5(+)PD-1(+)Bcl-6(+). On the basis of Bcl-6 expression and functional properties (IL-21 production and B cell help), the CXCR5(+)PD-1(+)Bcl-6(+) cell population was considered to correspond to the T follicular helper (Tfh) cell population. We show that Tfh and CXCR5(-)PD-1(+) cell populations are enriched in HIV-specific CD4 T cells, and these populations are significantly increased in viremic HIV-infected subjects as compared with healthy subjects. The Tfh cell population contained the highest percentage of CD4 T cells harboring HIV DNA and was the most efficient in supporting productive infection in vitro. Replication competent HIV was also readily isolated from Tfh cells in subjects with nonprogressive infection and low viremia (<1,000 HIV RNA copies). However, only the percentage of Tfh cells correlated with the levels of plasma viremia. These results demonstrate that Tfh cells serve as the major CD4 T cell compartment for HIV infection, replication, and production.
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