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Dendritic cells (DC) are required to initiate primary cellular immune responses. Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection of DC may be central to transmission and persistence of virus and in the pathogenesis of AIDS. In symptomatic HIV-1-infected patients the proportion of DC in the mononuclear cell population was reduced. Provirus load in the T cells was 3-100 times higher than in DC and there was no correlation between the levels of infection in the two cell types. Phylogenetic analysis of amino acids in the V3 loop and flanking regions indicated intermingling of sequences and thus provides the first evidence for transfer of virus between DC and T cells in vivo. In one of three patients analysed there were significant differences in amino acid residues in the V3 region. This may reflect reduced interactions between DC and T cells in infected individuals and for the existence of variants with a stronger tropism for DC, which could play a role in transmission by initiating infection in mucosal DC.

Original publication




Journal article


The Journal of general virology

Publication Date



79 ( Pt 2)


247 - 257


Antigen Presentation Research Group, Imperial College School of Medicine at Northwick Park Institute for Medical Research, Harrow, Middlesex, UK.


Dendritic Cells, T-Lymphocytes, T-Lymphocytes, Helper-Inducer, Humans, Proviruses, HIV-1, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, Gene Products, env, DNA Primers, Flow Cytometry, Polymerase Chain Reaction, Sequence Alignment, Evolution, Molecular, Phylogeny, Amino Acid Sequence, Reference Values, Molecular Sequence Data, Genetic Variation