Regulation of HIV-1 latency by T-cell activation

Cytokine. 2007 Jul;39(1):63-74. doi: 10.1016/j.cyto.2007.05.017. Epub 2007 Jul 20.


HIV-infected patients harbor approximately 10(5)-10(6) memory CD4 T-cells that contain fully integrated but transcriptionally silent HIV proviruses. While small in number, these latently infected cells form a drug-insensitive reservoir that importantly contributes to the life-long persistence of HIV despite highly effective antiviral therapy. In tissue culture, latent HIV proviruses can be activated when their cellular hosts are exposed to select proinflammatory cytokines or their T-cell receptors are ligated. However, due to a lack of potency and/or dose-limiting toxicity, attempts to purge virus from this latent reservoir in vivo with immune-activating agents, such as anti-CD3 antibodies and IL-2, have failed. A deeper understanding of the molecular underpinnings of HIV latency is clearly required, including determining whether viral latency is actively reinforced by transcriptional repressors, defining which inducible host transcription factors most effectively antagonize latency, and elucidating the role of chromatin in viral latency. Only through such an improved understanding will it be possible to identify combination therapies that might allow complete purging of the latent reservoir and to realize the difficult and elusive goal of complete eradication of HIV in infected patients.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / virology*
  • Gene Products, tat / metabolism
  • HIV Infections / virology*
  • HIV-1 / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • RNA Polymerase II / biosynthesis
  • Virus Activation
  • Virus Latency*


  • Gene Products, tat
  • RNA Polymerase II