Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 virological synapse formation in T cells requires lipid raft integrity.
Jolly C., Sattentau QJ.
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.