HIV-1 entry into quiescent primary lymphocytes: molecular analysis reveals a labile, latent viral structure

Cell. 1990 Apr 20;61(2):213-22. doi: 10.1016/0092-8674(90)90802-l.


Productive infection of human T lymphocytes by HIV-1 is dependent upon proliferation of the infected cell. Nonproliferating quiescent T cells can be infected by HIV-1 and harbor the virus in an inactive state until subsequent mitogenic stimulation. We use a modification of the polymerase chain reaction method, which is both sensitive and quantitative, to demonstrate that HIV-1 DNA synthesis is initiated in infected quiescent T cells at levels comparable with those of activated T cells. However, unlike that of activated T cells, the viral genome is not completely reverse transcribed in quiescent cells. Although this viral DNA structure can persist in quiescent cells as a latent form, it is labile. We discuss the lability of this HIV-1 DNA structure in relation to a "self-restricting persistent infection" by HIV-1 and propose that this may explain the low percentage of infected cells in the circulation of AIDS patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • DNA, Viral / genetics
  • DNA, Viral / isolation & purification
  • Gene Expression
  • Genes, Viral
  • HIV / genetics*
  • HIV-1 / physiology
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Oligonucleotide Probes
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / microbiology*


  • DNA, Viral
  • Oligonucleotide Probes
  • RNA, Viral