The cytopathic effects (CPE) resulting from the infection of CD4+ T cells by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have generally been characterized as single-cell killing associated with apoptosis and/or the generation of syncytia resulting from the direct cell-to-cell transmission of the virus. Little is known, however, about the cellular factors influencing host cell susceptibility to HIV-mediated CPE. Because expression of the antiapoptosis gene, bcl-2, enhances cell viability after exposure to cytotoxic agents or stimuli, the effect of bcl-2 expression on HIV infection of stably transfected T-cell clones was investigated. Unexpectedly, bcl-2 expression by these cells accelerated the kinetics of an acute spreading HIV infection, as evidenced by a rapid loss of culture viability associated with the appearance of CPE and reverse transcriptase activity in the culture supernatant. This unexpected effect of bcl-2 expression results from the arrest of syncytial apoptosis, directly facilitating the cell-to-cell transmission of HIV. In addition, bcl-2 expression is associated with enhanced HIV replication as determined by HIV type 1-specific Western blot (immunoblot) analysis. These results suggest that the inhibition of apoptosis is essential for this mode of viral transmission.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science