Single cell analysis of lymph node tissue from HIV-1 infected patients reveals that the majority of CD4+ T-cells contain one HIV-1 DNA molecule.
Josefsson L., Palmer S., Faria NR., Lemey P., Casazza J., Ambrozak D., Kearney M., Shao W., Kottilil S., Sneller M., Mellors J., Coffin JM., Maldarelli F.
Genetic recombination contributes to the diversity of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1). Productive HIV-1 recombination is, however, dependent on both the number of HIV-1 genomes per infected cell and the genetic relationship between these viral genomes. A detailed analysis of the number of proviruses and their genetic relationship in infected cells isolated from peripheral blood and tissue compartments is therefore important for understanding HIV-1 recombination, genetic diversity and the dynamics of HIV-1 infection. To address these issues, we used a previously developed single-cell sequencing technique to quantify and genetically characterize individual HIV-1 DNA molecules from single cells in lymph node tissue and peripheral blood. Analysis of memory and naïve CD4(+) T cells from paired lymph node and peripheral blood samples from five untreated chronically infected patients revealed that the majority of these HIV-1-infected cells (>90%) contain only one copy of HIV-1 DNA, implying a limited potential for productive recombination in virus produced by these cells in these two compartments. Phylogenetic analysis revealed genetic similarity of HIV-1 DNA in memory and naïve CD4(+) T-cells from lymph node, peripheral blood and HIV-1 RNA from plasma, implying exchange of virus and/or infected cells between these compartments in untreated chronic infection.