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Human T-Lymphotropic Virus-1 Visualized at the Virological Synapse by Electron Tomography

By Endre Majorovits, Mohamed Nejmeddine, Yuetsu Tanaka, Graham P. Taylor, Stephen D. Fuller and Charles R. M. Bangham


Human T-lymphotropic virus 1 (HTLV-1) is transmitted directly between cells via an organized cell-cell contact called a virological synapse (VS) [1], [2]. The VS has been studied by light microscopy, but the ultrastructure of the VS and the nature of the transmitted viral particle have remained unknown. Cell-free enveloped virions of HTLV-1 are undetectable in the serum of individuals infected with the human T-lymphotropic virus 1 (HTLV-1) and during in vitro culture of naturally infected lymphocytes. However, the viral envelope protein is required for infectivity of HTLV-1, suggesting that complete, enveloped HTLV-1 virions are transferred across the synapse. Here, we use electron tomography combined with immunostaining of viral protein to demonstrate the presence of enveloped HTLV-1 particles within the VS formed between naturally infected lymphocytes. We show in 3D that HTLV-1 particles can be detected in multiple synaptic clefts at different locations simultaneously within the same VS. The synaptic clefts are surrounded by the tightly apposed plasma membranes of the two cells. HTLV-1 virions can contact the recipient cell membrane before detaching from the infected cell. The results show that the HTLV-1 virological synapse that forms spontaneously between lymphocytes of HTLV-1 infected individuals allows direct cell-cell transmission of the virus by triggered, directional release of enveloped HTLV-1 particles into confined intercellular spaces

Topics: Research Article
Publisher: Public Library of Science
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Provided by: PubMed Central

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