Latent intact HIV-1 proviruses persist in a small subset of long-lived CD4+ T cells that can undergo clonal expansion in vivo. Expanded clones of CD4+ T cells dominate latent reservoirs in individuals on long-term antiretroviral therapy (ART) and represent a major barrier to HIV-1 cure. To determine how integration landscape might contribute to latency, we analyzed integration sites of near full length HIV-1 genomes from individuals on long-term ART, focusing on individuals whose reservoirs are highly clonal. We find that intact proviruses in expanded CD4+ T cell clones are preferentially integrated within Krüppel-associated box (KRAB) domain-containing zinc finger (ZNF) genes. ZNF genes are associated with heterochromatin in memory CD4+ T cells; nevertheless, they are expressed in these cells under steady-state conditions. In contrast to genes carrying unique integrations, ZNF genes carrying clonal intact integrations are down-regulated upon cellular activation. Together, the data suggest selected genomic sites, including ZNF genes, can be especially permissive for maintaining HIV-1 latency during memory CD4+ T cell expansion.
© 2021 Huang et al.