High-multiplicity HIV-1 infection and neutralizing antibody evasion mediated by the macrophage-T cell virological synapse.
Duncan CJA., Williams JP., Schiffner T., Gärtner K., Ochsenbauer C., Kappes J., Russell RA., Frater J., Sattentau QJ.
Macrophage infection is considered to play an important role in HIV-1 pathogenesis and persistence. Using a primary cell-based coculture model, we show that monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM) efficiently transmit a high-multiplicity HIV-1 infection to autologous CD4(+) T cells through a viral envelope glycoprotein (Env) receptor- and actin-dependent virological synapse (VS), facilitated by interactions between ICAM-1 and LFA-1. Virological synapse (VS)-mediated transmission by MDM results in high levels of T cell HIV-1 integration and is 1 to 2 orders of magnitude more efficient than cell-free infection. This mode of cell-to-cell transmission is broadly susceptible to the activity of CD4 binding site (CD4bs) and glycan or glycopeptide epitope-specific broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (bNMAbs) but shows resistance to bNMAbs targeting the Env gp41 subunit membrane-proximal external region (MPER). These data define for the first time the structure and function of the macrophage-to-T cell VS and have important implications for bNMAb activity in HIV-1 prophylaxis and therapy. IMPORTANCE The ability of HIV-1 to move directly between contacting immune cells allows efficient viral dissemination with the potential to evade antibody attack. Here, we show that HIV-1 spreads from infected macrophages to T cells via a structure called a virological synapse that maintains extended contact between the two cell types, allowing transfer of multiple infectious events to the T cell. This process allows the virus to avoid neutralization by a class of antibody targeting the gp41 subunit of the envelope glycoproteins. These results have implications for viral spread in vivo and the specificities of neutralizing antibody elicited by antibody-based vaccines.