Human splice factors contribute to latent HIV infection in primary cell models and blood CD4+ T cells from ART-treated individuals

PLoS Pathog. 2020 Nov 30;16(11):e1009060. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1009060. eCollection 2020 Nov.


It is unclear what mechanisms govern latent HIV infection in vivo or in primary cell models. To investigate these questions, we compared the HIV and cellular transcription profile in three primary cell models and peripheral CD4+ T cells from HIV-infected ART-suppressed individuals using RT-ddPCR and RNA-seq. All primary cell models recapitulated the block to HIV multiple splicing seen in cells from ART-suppressed individuals, suggesting that this may be a key feature of HIV latency in primary CD4+ T cells. Blocks to HIV transcriptional initiation and elongation were observed more variably among models. A common set of 234 cellular genes, including members of the minor spliceosome pathway, was differentially expressed between unstimulated and activated cells from primary cell models and ART-suppressed individuals, suggesting these genes may play a role in the blocks to HIV transcription and splicing underlying latent infection. These genes may represent new targets for therapies designed to reactivate or silence latently-infected cells.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Retroviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / virology*
  • HIV Infections / virology*
  • HIV-1 / genetics*
  • HIV-1 / physiology
  • Humans
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • Transcriptome*
  • Virus Latency / genetics*


  • Anti-Retroviral Agents
  • RNA, Viral