Downregulation of the T-Cell Receptor by Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 2 Nef Does Not Protect against Disease Progression
Feldmann J., Leligdowicz A., Jaye A., Dong T., Whittle H., Rowland-Jones SL.
ABSTRACT Chronic immune activation is thought to play a major role in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) pathogenesis, but the relative contributions of multiple factors to immune activation are not known. One proposed mechanism to protect against immune activation is the ability of Nef proteins from some HIV and simian immunodeficiency virus strains to downregulate the T-cell receptor (TCR)-CD3 complex of the infected cell, thereby reducing the potential for deleterious activation. HIV type 1 (HIV-1) Nef has lost this property. In contrast to HIV-1, HIV-2 infection is characterized by a marked disparity in the disease course, with most individuals maintaining a normal life span. In this study, we examined the relationship between the ability of HIV-2 Nef proteins to downregulate the TCR and immune activation, comparing progressors and nonprogressors. Representative Nef variants were isolated from 28 HIV-2-infected individuals. We assessed their abilities to downregulate the TCR from the surfaces of CD4 T cells. In the same individuals, the activation of peripheral lymphocytes was evaluated by measurement of the expression levels of HLA-DR and CD38. We observed a striking correlation of the TCR downregulation efficiency of HIV-2 Nef variants with immune activation in individuals with a low viral load. This strongly suggests that Nef expression can influence the activation state of the immune systems of infected individuals. However, the efficiency of TCR downregulation by Nef was not reduced in progressing individuals, showing that TCR downregulation does not protect against progression in HIV-2 infection.