CXCR4-Tropic HIV-1 Envelope Glycoprotein Functions as a Viral Chemokine in Unstimulated Primary CD4+ T Lymphocytes

Balabanian K, Harriague J, Decrion C, Lagane B, Shorte S, Baleux F, Virelizier JL, Arenzana-Seisdedos F and Chakrabarti LA
Source: J Immunol
Publication Date: (2004)
Issue: 173(12): 7150-7160
Research Area:
Immunotherapy / Hematology
Cells used in publication:
T cell, human peripheral blood unstim.
Species: human
Tissue Origin: blood
Nucleofector® I/II/2b
Interaction of HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein gp120 with the chemokine receptor CXCR4 triggers not only viral entry but also an array of signal transduction cascades. Whether gp120 induces an incomplete or aberrant set of signals, or whether it can function as a full CXCR4 agonist, remains unclear. We report that, in unstimulated human primary CD4(+) T cells, the spectrum of signaling responses induced by gp120 through CXCR4 paralleled that induced by the natural ligand stromal cell-derived factor 1/CXCL12. gp120 activated heterotrimeric G proteins and the major G protein-dependent pathways, including calcium mobilization, phosphoinositide-3 kinase, and Erk-1/2 MAPK activation. Interestingly, gp120 caused rapid actin cytoskeleton rearrangements and profuse membrane ruffling, as evidenced by dynamic confocal imaging. This coordinated set of events resulted in a bona fide chemotactic response. Inactivated HIV-1 virions that harbored conformationally intact envelope glycoproteins also caused actin polymerization and chemotaxis, while similar virions devoid of envelope glycoproteins did not. Thus gp120, in monomeric as well as oligomeric, virion-associated form, elicited a complex cellular response that mimicked the effects of a chemokine. HIV-1 has therefore the capacity to dysregulate the vast CD4(+) T cell population that expresses CXCR4. In addition, HIV-1 may exploit its chemotactic properties to retain potential target cells and locally perturb their cytoskeleton, thereby facilitating viral transmission.