Research Article

Spread of HTLV-I Between Lymphocytes by Virus-Induced Polarization of the Cytoskeleton

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Science  14 Mar 2003:
Vol. 299, Issue 5613, pp. 1713-1716
DOI: 10.1126/science.1080115

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Cell contact is required for efficient transmission of human T cell leukemia virus– type 1 (HTLV-I) between cells and between individuals, because naturally infected lymphocytes produce virtually no cell-free infectious HTLV-I particles. However, the mechanism of cell-to-cell spread of HTLV-I is not understood. We show here that cell contact rapidly induces polarization of the cytoskeleton of the infected cell to the cell-cell junction. HTLV-I core (Gag protein) complexes and the HTLV-I genome accumulate at the cell-cell junction and are then transferred to the uninfected cell. Other lymphotropic viruses, such as HIV-1, may similarly subvert normal T cell physiology to allow efficient propagation between cells.

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