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Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) can spread directly between T cells by forming a supramolecular structure termed a virological synapse (VS). HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins (Env) are required for VS assembly, but their mode of recruitment is unclear. We investigated the distribution of GM1-rich lipid rafts in HIV-1-infected (effector) T cells and observed Env colocalization with polarized raft markers GM1 and CD59 but not with the transferrin receptor that is excluded from lipid rafts. In conjugates of effector T cells and target CD4+ T cells, GM1, Env, and Gag relocated to the cell-cell interface. The depletion of cholesterol in the infected cell dispersed Env and GM1 within the plasma membrane, eliminated Gag clustering at the site of cell-cell contact, and abolished assembly of the VS. Raft integrity is therefore critical for Env and Gag co-clustering and VS assembly in T-cell conjugates.

Original publication




Journal article


J Virol

Publication Date





12088 - 12094


Antigens, Viral, CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes, G(M1) Ganglioside, HIV-1, Humans, In Vitro Techniques, Jurkat Cells, Membrane Microdomains, Microscopy, Immunoelectron, T-Lymphocytes