Human immunodeficiency virus infection is characterized by dysregulation of antigen-presenting cell function and defects in cell-mediated immunity. Recent evidence suggests that impaired ability of CD4+ T cells to upregulate the costimulatory molecule CD154 is at the core of this dysregulation. To test the hypothesis that increased expression of CD154 on infected CD4+ T cells could modulate immune function, we constructed a replication-competent simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) vector that expressed CD154. We found that this recombinant vector directed the expression of CD154 on the surface of infected CD4+ T cells and that expression of CD154 resulted in activation of B cells present in the same cultures. Experimental infection of rhesus macaques resulted in very low viral loads for the CD154-expressing virus and the control virus, indicating that expression of CD154 did not result in increased viral replication. Analyses of the anti-SIV immune responses and the phenotype of lymphocytes in blood and lymphoid tissues showed changes that occurred during the acute phase of infection only in animals infected with the CD154-expressing SIV, but that became indistinguishable from those seen in animals infected with the control virus at later time points. We conclude that the level of expression of CD154 in itself is not responsible for affecting the immune response to an attenuated virus. Considering that the CD154-expressing SIV vector and the virus control did not carry an active nef gene, our results suggest that, in CD4+ T cells infected with wild-type virus, Nef is the viral factor that interferes with the immune mechanisms that regulate expression of CD154.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science