Analysis of human immunodeficiency virus-infected tissues by amplification and in situ hybridization reveals latent and permissive infections at single-cell resolution

Janet Embretson, Mary Zupancic, Janet Beneke, Michele Till, Steven Wolinsky, Jorge L. Ribas, Allen Burke, Ashley T. Haase*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

161 Scopus citations

Abstract

Latent and productive viral infections are at the extremes of the spectrum of virus-cell interactions that are thought to play a major role in the ability of such important human pathogens as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) to elude host defenses and cause disease. The recent development of PCR-based methods to amplify target sequences in individual cells in routinely fixed tissues affords opportunities to directly examine the subtle and covert virus-cell relationships at the latent end of the spectrum that are inaccessible to analysis by conventional in situ hybridization techniques. We have now used PCR in situ with in situ hybridization to document latent and permissive HIV infection in routinely fixed and paraffinembedded tissue. In one of the first specimens we examined, a tumor biopsy from an HIV-infected individual, we found many of the lymphocytes and lymphocytes infiltrating the tumor had HIV DNA that was detectable only by PCR in situ. The fraction of positive cells varied regionally, but there were foci where most of the cells contained HIV DNA. Most of these lymphocytes and macrophages are latently infected, as we could detect HIV RNA in fewer than one in a thousand of these cells. We also detected HIV RNA, surprisingly, in 6% of the tumor cells, where the number of copies of viral RNA per cell was equivalent to productively infected cell lines. The alternative states of HIV-gene expression and high local concentration of latently infected lymphocytes and monocytes revealed by these studies conceptually supports models of lentiviral pathogenesis that attribute persistence to the reservoir of latently infected cells and disease to the consequences of viral-gene expression in this population. The magnitude of infection of lymphocytes documented in this report is also consistent with the emerging view that HIV infection per se could contribute substantially to depletion of immune cells in AIDS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-361
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Volume90
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 1993

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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