The search for an HIV-1 cure has been greatly hindered by the presence of a viral reservoir that persists despite antiretroviral therapy (ART). Studies of HIV-1 latency in vivo are also complicated by the low proportion of latently infected cells in HIV-1 infected individuals. A number of models of HIV-1 latency have been developed to examine the signaling pathways and viral determinants of latency and reactivation. A primary cell model of HIV-1 latency, which incorporates the generation of primary central memory CD4 T cells (TCM), full-length virus infection (HIVNL4-3) and ART to suppress virus replication, was used to investigate the establishment of HIV latency using RNA-Seq. Initially, an investigation of host and viral gene expression in the resting and activated states of this model indicated that the resting condition was reflective of a latent state. Then, a comparison of the host transcriptome between the uninfected and latently infected conditions of this model identified 826 differentially expressed genes, many of which were related to p53 signaling. Inhibition of the transcriptional activity of p53 by pifithrin-α during HIV-1 infection reduced the ability of HIV-1 to be reactivated from its latent state by an unknown mechanism. In conclusion, this model may be used to screen latency reversing agents utilized in shock and kill approaches to cure HIV, to search for cellular markers of latency, and to understand the mechanisms by which HIV-1 establishes latency.
White, C. H., Moesker, B., Beliakova-Bethell, N., Martins, L. J., Spina, C. A., Margolis, D. M., … Woelk, C. H. (2016). Transcriptomic Analysis Implicates the p53 Signaling Pathway in the Establishment of HIV-1 Latency in Central Memory CD4 T Cells in an In Vitro Model. PLoS Pathogens, 12(11). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.ppat.1006026