Dendritic cells (DCs) in mucosal surfaces are early targets for human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1). DCs mount rapid and robust immune responses upon pathogen encounter. However, immune response in the early events of HIV-1 transmission appears limited, suggesting that HIV-1 evade early immune control by DCs. We report that HIV-1 induces a rapid shutdown of autophagy and immunoamphisomes in DCs. HIV-1 envelope activated the mammalian target of rapamycin pathway in DCs, leading to autophagy exhaustion. HIV-1-induced inhibition of autophagy in DC increased cell-associated HIV-1 and transfer of HIV-1 infection to CD4(+) T cells. HIV-1-mediated downregulation of autophagy in DCs impaired innate and adaptive immune responses. Immunoamphisomes in DCs engulf incoming pathogens and appear to amplify pathogen degradation as well as Toll-like receptor responses and antigen presentation. The findings that HIV-1 downregulates autophagy and impedes immune functions of DCs represent a pathogenesis mechanism that can be pharmacologically countered with therapeutic and prophylactic implications.
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