The transcriptome of HIV-1 infected intestinal CD4+ T cells exposed to enteric bacteria

PLoS Pathog. 2017 Feb 27;13(2):e1006226. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1006226. eCollection 2017 Feb.


Global transcriptome studies can help pinpoint key cellular pathways exploited by viruses to replicate and cause pathogenesis. Previous data showed that laboratory-adapted HIV-1 triggers significant gene expression changes in CD4+ T cell lines and mitogen-activated CD4+ T cells from peripheral blood. However, HIV-1 primarily targets mucosal compartments during acute infection in vivo. Moreover, early HIV-1 infection causes extensive depletion of CD4+ T cells in the gastrointestinal tract that herald persistent inflammation due to the translocation of enteric microbes to the systemic circulation. Here, we profiled the transcriptome of primary intestinal CD4+ T cells infected ex vivo with transmitted/founder (TF) HIV-1. Infections were performed in the presence or absence of Prevotella stercorea, a gut microbe enriched in the mucosa of HIV-1-infected individuals that enhanced both TF HIV-1 replication and CD4+ T cell death ex vivo. In the absence of bacteria, HIV-1 triggered a cellular shutdown response involving the downregulation of HIV-1 reactome genes, while perturbing genes linked to OX40, PPAR and FOXO3 signaling. However, in the presence of bacteria, HIV-1 did not perturb these gene sets or pathways. Instead, HIV-1 enhanced granzyme expression and Th17 cell function, inhibited G1/S cell cycle checkpoint genes and triggered downstream cell death pathways in microbe-exposed gut CD4+ T cells. To gain insights on these differential effects, we profiled the gene expression landscape of HIV-1-uninfected gut CD4+ T cells exposed to bacteria. Microbial exposure upregulated genes involved in cellular proliferation, MAPK activation, Th17 cell differentiation and type I interferon signaling. Our findings reveal that microbial exposure influenced how HIV-1 altered the gut CD4+ T cell transcriptome, with potential consequences for HIV-1 susceptibility, cell survival and inflammation. The HIV-1- and microbe-altered pathways unraveled here may serve as a molecular blueprint to gain basic insights in mucosal HIV-1 pathogenesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / microbiology*
  • Enterobacteriaceae*
  • Flow Cytometry
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • HIV Infections / microbiology*
  • HIV-1 / pathogenicity*
  • Humans
  • Intestines / microbiology*
  • Transcriptome