Indexed on: 20 Apr '01Published on: 20 Apr '01Published in: Journal of virology
Dendritic cells (DCs) efficiently bind and transmit human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to cocultured T cells and so may play an important role in HIV transmission. DC-SIGN, a novel C-type lectin that is expressed in DCs, has recently been shown to bind R5 HIV type 1 (HIV-1) strains and a laboratory-adapted X4 strain. To characterize the interaction of DC-SIGN with primate lentiviruses, we investigated the structural determinants of DC-SIGN required for virus binding and transmission to permissive cells. We constructed a panel of DC-SIGN mutants and established conditions which allowed comparable cell surface expression of all mutants. We found that R5, X4, and R5X4 HIV-1 isolates as well as simian immunodeficiency and HIV-2 strains bound to DC-SIGN and could be transmitted to CD4/coreceptor-positive cell types. DC-SIGN contains a single N-linked carbohydrate chain that is important for efficient cell surface expression but is not required for DC-SIGN-mediated virus binding and transmission. In contrast, C-terminal deletions removing either the lectin binding domain or the repeat region abrogated DC-SIGN function. Trypsin-EDTA treatment inhibited DC-SIGN mediated infection, indicating that virus was maintained at the surface of the DC-SIGN-expressing cells used in this study. Finally, quantitative fluorescence-activated cell sorting analysis of AU1-tagged DC-SIGN revealed that the efficiency of virus transmission was strongly affected by variations in DC-SIGN expression levels. Thus, variations in DC-SIGN expression levels on DCs could greatly affect the susceptibility of human individuals to HIV infection.