Hepatitis C virus (HCV) and GB virus type C (GBV-C) are associated with impaired T cell function despite the fact that HCV replicates in hepatocytes and GBV-C in a small proportion of lymphocytes. Recently, we showed that HCV and GBV-C E2-envelope proteins reduce T cell activation via the T cell receptor (TCR) by competing for phosphorylation with a critical kinase in the TCR signaling cascade (Lck). E2 interfered with TCR signaling in E2 expressing cells and in bystander cells. The bystander effect was mediated by virus particles and extracellular microvesicular particles (exosomes). Multiple kinase substrate sites are predicted to reside on viral structural proteins and based on bioinformatic predictions, many RNA virus pathogens may interfere with TCR signaling via a similar mechanism. Identification of T cell inhibitory effects of virus structural proteins may provide novel approaches to enhance the immunogenicity and memory of viral vaccines.
Human pegivirus (HPgV; previously called GB virus C/hepatitis G virus) has limited pathogenicity, despite causing persistent infection, and is associated with prolonged survival in human immunodeficiency virus-infected individuals. Although HPgV RNA is found in and produced by T- and B-lymphocytes, the primary permissive cell type(s) are unknown. We quantified HPgV RNA in highly purified CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-cells, including naïve, central memory and effector memory populations, and in B-cells (CD19(+)), NK cells (CD56(+)) and monocytes (CD14(+)) using real-time reverse transcription-PCR. Single-genome sequencing was performed on viruses within individual cell types to estimate genetic diversity among cell populations. HPgV RNA was present in CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-lymphocytes (nine of nine subjects), B-lymphocytes (seven of ten subjects), NK cells and monocytes (both four of five). HPgV RNA levels were higher in naïve (CD45RA(+)) CD4(+) cells than in central memory and effector memory cells (P<0.01). HPgV sequences were highly conserved among subjects (0.117±0.02 substitutions per site; range 0.58-0.14) and within subjects (0.006±0.003 substitutions per site; range 0.006-0.010). The non-synonymous/synonymous substitution ratio was 0.07, suggesting a low selective pressure. Carboxyfluorescein succinimidyl ester (CFSE)-labelled HPgV RNA-containing particles precipitated by a commercial exosome isolation reagent delivered CSFE to uninfected monocytes, NK cells and T- and B-lymphocytes, and HPgV RNA was transferred to PBMCs with evidence of subsequent virus replication. Thus, HPgV RNA-containing serum particles including microvesicles may contribute to delivery of HPgV to PBMCs in vivo, explaining the apparent broad tropism of this persistent human RNA virus.
The contribution of fungal infections to the morbidity and mortality of HIV-infected individuals is largely unrecognized. A recent meeting highlighted several priorities that need to be urgently addressed, including improved epidemiological surveillance, increased availability of existing diagnostics and drugs, more training in the field of medical mycology, and better funding for research and provision of treatment, particularly in developing countries.
Viruses enter into complex interactions within human hosts, leading to facilitation or suppression of each others replication. Upon coinfection, GB virus C (GBV-C) suppresses HIV-1 replication in vivo and in vitro, and GBV-C coinfection is associated with prolonged survival in HIV-infected people. GBV-C is a lymphotropic virus capable of persistent infection. GBV-C infection is associated with reduced T cell activation in HIV-infected humans, and immune activation is a critical component of HIV disease pathogenesis. We demonstrate that serum GBV-C particles inhibited activation of primary human T cells. T cell activation inhibition was mediated by the envelope glycoprotein E2, because expression of E2 inhibited TCR-mediated activation of Lck. The region on the E2 protein was characterized and revealed a highly conserved peptide motif sufficient to inhibit TCR-mediated signaling. The E2 region contained a predicted Lck substrate site, and substitution of an alanine or histidine for the tyrosine reversed TCR-signaling inhibition. GBV-C E2 protein and a synthetic peptide representing the inhibitory amino acid sequence were phosphorylated by Lck in vitro. The synthetic peptide also inhibited TCR-mediated activation of primary human CD4(+) and CD8(+) T cells. Extracellular microvesicles from GBV-C E2-expressing cells contained E2 protein and inhibited TCR signaling in bystander T cells not expressing E2. Thus, GBV-C reduced global T cell activation via competition between its envelope protein E2 and Lck following TCR engagement. This novel inhibitory mechanism of T cell activation may provide new approaches for HIV and immunoactivation therapy.
Double-negative T cells (DNTCs; ie, CD3(+)CD4(-)CD8(-) T cells) play a role in limiting chronic immune activation. GB virus C (GBV-C) infection is associated with reduced T-cell activation in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals. T-cell activation and DNTCs were measured in HIV-infected subjects with a nondetectable HIV load. GBV-C-viremic subjects had significantly reduced CD4(+) and CD8(+) T-cell activation (P = .003 and .034, respectively) and significantly increased DNTCs (P = .038), compared with nonviremic subjects. GBV-C load correlated with DNTC percentage (P = .004). Thus, GBV-C infection is associated with an increase in DNTCs, which may contribute to reduced immune activation during HIV infection.
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