HIV type 1 infection of plasmacytoid and myeloid dendritic cells is restricted by high levels of SAMHD1 and cannot be counteracted by Vpx

AIDS Res Hum Retroviruses. 2014 Feb;30(2):195-203. doi: 10.1089/AID.2013.0119. Epub 2013 Sep 4.


Dendritic cells are professional antigen-presenting cells of the immune system and are major producers of type-I interferon. Their role in HIV-1 infection is not well understood. They express CD4 and CCR5 yet appear to be resistant to infection. In culture, infection of the cells with HIV-1 is inhibited by the host cell restriction factor SAMHD1. Lentiviruses such as HIV-2/SIVmac counteract the restriction by encoding Vpx, a virion-packaged accessory protein that induces the proteasomal degradation of SAMHD1. In this study we investigated SAMHD1-mediated restriction in the two major dendritic cell subsets: plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDC) and myeloid dendritic cells (mDC). The cells were highly resistant to HIV-1 and expressed high levels of SAMHD1. SAMHD1 amino acid residue T592, a target of CDK1 phosphorylation, was unphosphorylated, corresponding to the antiviral form of the enzyme. The resistance to infection was not counteracted by Vpx and SAMHD1 was not degraded in these cells. Treatment of pDCs with a cocktail of antibodies that blocked type-I interferon signaling partially restored the ability of Vpx to induce SAMHD1 degradation and caused the cells to become partially permissive to infection. pDCs and mDCs responded to HIV-1 virions by inducing an innate immune response but did not appear to sense newly produced Gag protein. The findings suggest that in vivo, dendritic cells serve as sentinels to alert the immune system to the virus but do not themselves become infected by virtue of high levels of SAMHD1.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Dendritic Cells / virology*
  • HIV-1 / growth & development*
  • HIV-1 / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Monomeric GTP-Binding Proteins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Monomeric GTP-Binding Proteins / immunology*
  • SAM Domain and HD Domain-Containing Protein 1
  • Viral Regulatory and Accessory Proteins / metabolism*


  • VPX protein, Human immunodeficiency virus 2
  • Viral Regulatory and Accessory Proteins
  • SAM Domain and HD Domain-Containing Protein 1
  • SAMHD1 protein, human
  • Monomeric GTP-Binding Proteins