The HIV envelope but not VSV glycoprotein is capable of mediating HIV latent infection of resting CD4 T cells

PLoS Pathog. 2009 Oct;5(10):e1000633. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1000633. Epub 2009 Oct 23.


HIV fusion and entry into CD4 T cells are mediated by two receptors, CD4 and CXCR4. This receptor requirement can be abrogated by pseudotyping the virion with the vesicular stomatitis virus glycoprotein (VSV-G) that mediates viral entry through endocytosis. The VSV-G-pseudotyped HIV is highly infectious for transformed cells, although the virus circumvents the viral receptors and the actin cortex. In HIV infection, gp120 binding to the receptors also transduces signals. Recently, we demonstrated a unique requirement for CXCR4 signaling in HIV latent infection of blood resting CD4 T cells. Thus, we performed parallel studies in which the VSV-G-pseudotyped HIV was used to infect both transformed and resting T cells in the absence of coreceptor signaling. Our results indicate that in transformed T cells, the VSV-G-pseudotyping results in lower viral DNA synthesis but a higher rate of nuclear migration. However, in resting CD4 T cells, only the HIV envelope-mediated entry, but not the VSV-G-mediated endocytosis, can lead to viral DNA synthesis and nuclear migration. The viral particles entering through the endocytotic pathway were destroyed within 1-2 days. These results indicate that the VSV-G-mediated endocytotic pathway, although active in transformed cells, is defective and is not a pathway that can establish HIV latent infection of primary resting T cells. Our results highlight the importance of the genuine HIV envelope and its signaling capacity in the latent infection of blood resting T cells. These results also call for caution on the endocytotic entry model of HIV-1, and on data interpretation where the VSV-G-pseudotyped HIV was used for identifying HIV restriction factors in resting T cells.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / virology*
  • Cell Cycle / immunology
  • Cell Line, Transformed
  • Cells, Cultured
  • DNA Replication / physiology
  • DNA, Viral / biosynthesis
  • HIV Infections / genetics
  • HIV Infections / immunology*
  • HIV Infections / virology*
  • HIV-1 / genetics
  • HIV-1 / pathogenicity
  • HIV-1 / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / genetics
  • Membrane Glycoproteins / physiology*
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Envelope Proteins / physiology*
  • Viral Fusion Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Fusion Proteins / physiology
  • Virus Latency* / genetics
  • Virus Latency* / immunology
  • Virus Replication / physiology


  • DNA, Viral
  • G protein, vesicular stomatitis virus
  • Membrane Glycoproteins
  • Viral Envelope Proteins
  • Viral Fusion Proteins