Molecular Characterization, Reactivation, and Depletion of Latent HIV

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SummaryAntiretroviral therapy is unable to eliminate HIV infection in a small, long-lived population of latently infected T cells, providing a source for renewed viral replication following cessation of therapy. Analysis of individual latently infected cells generated in the SCID-hu (Thy/Liv) mouse demonstrated no functional viral RNA produced in the latent state. Following reactivation viral expression was dramatically increased, rendering the infected cells susceptible to an anti-HIV immunotoxin. Treatment with the immunotoxin in conjunction with agents that activate virus expression without inducing cell division (IL-7 or the non-tumor-promoting phorbol ester prostratin) depleted the bulk of the latent reservoir and left uninfected cells able to respond to subsequent costimulation. We demonstrate that activation of latent virus is required for targeting by antiviral agents and provide the basis for future therapeutic strategies to eradicate the latent reservoir.

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