Entry across a mucosal surface accounts for virtually all HIV-1 transmissions. However, many critical issues regarding the immunobiology of HIV-1 transmission in genital mucosa are poorly understood. Preliminary studies show that human vaginal dendritic cells (DCs) (a) consist of a significant proportion of myeloid cells, (b) are the first cells to take up HIV-1, (c) take up HIV-1 more effectively compared to MoDCs, (d) differentially take up virus with different glycan content or Env V1-V3 sequence, (e) disseminate HIV-1 locally and systemically, and (e) preferentially take up and transfer R5, rather than X4, virus to reporter cells. Accordingly, we hypothesize that vaginal DCs are a key mucosal gatekeeper that preferentially transmits T/F virus based on viral envelope (Env). Using human vaginal mucosal mononuclear cells and tissue explants, our specific aims seek to determine whether (1) human DCs preferentially take up transmitted/founder (T/F) virus, rather than chronic virus;(2) human DCs preferentially disseminate T/F virus, rather than chronic virus, into and through the mucosa to trans-infect mucosal and systemic lymphocytes;and (3) Env mediates preferential uptake and/or dissemination of T/F virus. Elucidating the role of human vaginal DCs in the selective acquisition and dissemination of T/F virus in mucosa will provide new insights into the early events in HIV-1 mucosal transmission and could inform the basic biology and ultimately prevention of HIV-1 transmission.

Public Health Relevance

The interaction between HIV-1 and human vaginal mucosal dendritic cells (DCs) is poorly understood. We propose to elucidate the role of vaginal DCs in the selective acquisition and dissemination of transmitted/founder virus in human vaginal mucosa. Identification of the gatekeepers and elucidation of the molecular mechanism of selective transmission are critical to the understanding of HIV-1 transmission, thereby informing the basic biology and ultimately prevention of HIV-1 transmission.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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AIDS Immunology and Pathogenesis Study Section (AIP)
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Sanders, Brigitte E
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University of Alabama Birmingham
Internal Medicine/Medicine
Schools of Medicine
United States
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Shen, Ruizhong; Achenbach, Jenna; Shen, Yue et al. (2015) Mother-to-Child HIV-1 Transmission Events Are Differentially Impacted by Breast Milk and Its Components from HIV-1-Infected Women. PLoS One 10:e0145150
Shen, Ruizhong; Richter, Holly E; Smith, Phillip D (2014) Interactions between HIV-1 and mucosal cells in the female reproductive tract. Am J Reprod Immunol 71:608-17
Shen, Ruizhong; Kappes, John C; Smythies, Lesley E et al. (2014) Vaginal myeloid dendritic cells transmit founder HIV-1. J Virol 88:7683-8
Shen, Ruizhong; Smith, Phillip D (2014) Mucosal correlates of protection in HIV-1-exposed sero-negative persons. Am J Reprod Immunol 72:219-27
Shen, Ruizhong; Raska, Milan; Bimczok, Diane et al. (2014) HIV-1 envelope glycan moieties modulate HIV-1 transmission. J Virol 88:14258-67