Different Expression of Interferon-Stimulated Genes in Response to HIV-1 Infection in Dendritic Cells Based on Their Maturation State

J Virol. 2017 Mar 29;91(8):e01379-16. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01379-16. Print 2017 Apr 15.


Dendritic cells (DCs) are professional antigen-presenting cells whose functions are dependent on their degree of differentiation. In their immature state, DCs capture pathogens and migrate to the lymph nodes. During this process, DCs become resident mature cells specialized in antigen presentation. DCs are characterized by a highly limiting environment for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) replication due to the expression of restriction factors such as SAMHD1 and APOBEC3G. However, uninfected DCs capture and transfer viral particles to CD4 lymphocytes through a trans-enhancement mechanism in which chemokines are involved. We analyzed changes in gene expression with whole-genome microarrays when immature DCs (IDCs) or mature DCs (MDCs) were productively infected using Vpx-loaded HIV-1 particles. Whereas productive HIV infection of IDCs induced expression of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs), such induction was not produced in MDCs, in which a sharp decrease in ISG- and CXCR3-binding chemokines was observed, lessening trans-infection of CD4 lymphocytes. Similar patterns of gene expression were found when DCs were infected with HIV-2 that naturally expresses Vpx. Differences were also observed under conditions of restrictive HIV-1 infection, in the absence of Vpx. ISG expression was not modified in IDCs, whereas an increase of ISG- and CXCR3-binding chemokines was observed in MDCs. Overall these results suggest that sensing and restriction of HIV-1 infection are different in IDCs and MDCs. We propose that restrictive infection results in increased virulence through different mechanisms. In IDCs avoidance of sensing and induction of ISGs, whereas in MDCs increased production of CXCR3-binding chemokines, would result in lymphocyte attraction and enhanced infection at the immune synapse.IMPORTANCE In this work we describe for the first time the activation of a different genetic program during HIV-1 infection depending on the state of maturation of DCs. This represents a breakthrough in the understanding of the restriction to HIV-1 infection of DCs. The results show that infection of DCs by HIV-1 reprograms their gene expression pattern. In immature cells, productive HIV-1 infection activates interferon-related genes involved in the control of viral replication, thus inducing an antiviral state in surrounding cells. Paradoxically, restriction of HIV-1 by SAMHD1 would result in lack of sensing and IFN activation, thus favoring initial HIV-1 escape from the innate immune response. In mature DCs, restrictive infection results in HIV-1 sensing and induction of ISGs, in particular CXCR3-binding chemokines, which could favor the transmission of HIV to lymphocytes. Our data support the hypothesis that genetic DC reprograming by HIV-1 infection favors viral escape and dissemination, thus increasing HIV-1 virulence.

Keywords: HIV-1; immature dendritic cells; interferon-stimulated genes; mature dendritic cells.

MeSH terms

  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / virology
  • Cell Differentiation*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology*
  • Dendritic Cells / physiology
  • Dendritic Cells / virology*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • HIV-1 / immunology*
  • HIV-2 / immunology
  • Humans
  • Interferons / metabolism*
  • Microarray Analysis


  • Cytokines
  • Interferons