Mechanisms for adaptation of simian immunodeficiency virus to replication in alveolar macrophages

K. Mori, M. Rosenzweig, R. C. Desrosiers

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76 Scopus citations


In contrast to the simian immunodeficiency virus SIVmac239, which replicates poorly in rhesus monkey alveolar macrophages, a variant with nine amino acid changes in envelope (SIVmac239/316E) replicates efficiently and to high titer in these same cells. We examined levels of viral DNA, RNA, antigen, and infectious virus to identify the nature of the block to SIVmac239 replication in these cells. Low levels of viral antigen (0.1 to 1.0 ng of p27 per ml) and infectious virus (100 to 1,000 infectious units per ml) were produced in the supernatant 1 to 4 days after SIVmac239 infection, but these levels did not increase subsequently. SIVmac239 DNA was synthesized in these macrophage cultures during the initial 24 h after infection, but the levels did not increase subsequently. Quantitation of the numbers of infectious cells in cultures over time and the results of experiments in which cells were reexposed to SIVmac239 after the initial exposure indicated that only a small proportion of cells were susceptible to SIVmac239 infection in these alveolar macrophage cultures and that the vast majority (>95%) of cells were refractory to SIVmac239 infection. In contrast to the results with SIVmac239, the levels of viral antigen, infectious virus, and viral DNA increased exponentially 2 to 7 days after infection by SIVmac239/316E, reaching levels greater than 100 ng of p27 per ml and 100,000 infectious units per ml. Since SIVmac239/316E has previously been described as a virus capable of infecting cells in a relatively CD4-independent fashion, we examined the levels of CD4 expression on the surface of fresh and cultured alveolar macrophages from rhesus monkeys. The levels of CD4 expression were extremely low, below the limit of detection by flow cytometry, on greater than 99% of the macrophages. CCR5+ cells were profoundly depleted only from alveolar macrophage cultures infected with SIVmac239/316E. High concentrations of an antibody to CD4 delayed but did not block replication of SIVmac239/316E. The results suggest that the adaptation of SIVmac316 to efficient replication in alveolar macrophages results from its ability to infect these cells in a CD4-independent fashion or in a CD4-dependent fashion even at extremely low levels of surface CD4 expression. Since resident macrophages in brains and lungs of humans also express little or no CD4, our findings predict the presence of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 that is relatively CD4 independent in the lung and brain compartments of infected people.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10852-10859
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number22
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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