Transcriptional gene silencing limits CXCR4-associated depletion of bone marrow CD34+ cells in HIV-1 infection

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Objectives:Hematological abnormalities that include changes in bone marrow, such as in anemia and pancytopenia, are common among HIV-infected patients, particularly in the advanced stage of disease. Such abnormalities may be caused by a reduced bone marrow function for hematopoiesis. The aim of this study was to determine whether transcriptional gene silencing can help to preserve the hosts’ hematopoietic potential in addition to peripheral CD4+ T cells against CCR5-tropic HIV infection.Design:NOD/SCID/JAK3null (NOJ) mice were transplanted with human cord-derived CD34+ cells with or without transduction with a lentiviral vector expressing a promoter-targeting shRNA called PromA.Methods:At 16 weeks after transplantation, mice engrafted with CD34+ cells were infected with CCR5-tropic HIV-1JRFL.Results:At week 2 postinfection, HIV replication was observed in peripheral blood mononuclear cells and splenocytes. In mice transplanted with unmanipulated CD34+ cells, viral replication was accompanied by a loss of peripheral/spleen CD4+CCR5+ T cells. Interestingly, bone marrow CD34+ cells in HIV-infected mice were also depleted, but in a CXCR4-associated manner. Conversely, the lentiviral transfer of PromA in CD34+ cells prior to transplantation rendered the humanized NOJ mice resistant to HIV replication in CD4+ T cells, resulting in better preservation of peripheral/spleen CD4+CCR5+ T cells and bone marrow CD34+ cells at 2 weeks after infection.Conclusions:These results indicate that stable gene transfer of PromA to hematopoietic stem cells not only limited HIV replication but also led to preservation of different subsets of hematopoietic cells, including bone marrow stem/progenitor cells and CD4+ T cells.

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