Cofilin hyperactivation in HIV infection and targeting the cofilin pathway using an anti-α4β7 integrin antibody

Sijia He, Yajing Fu, Jia Guo, Mark Spear, Jiuling Yang, Benjamin Trinité, Chaolong Qin, Shuai Fu, Yongjun Jiang, Zining Zhang, Junjie Xu, Haibo Ding, David N. Levy, Wanjun Chen, Emanuel Petricoin, Lance A. Liotta, Hong Shang, Yuntao Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A functional HIV cure requires immune reconstitution for lasting viremia control. A major immune dysfunction persisting in HIV infection is the impairment of T helper cell migration and homing to lymphoid tissues such as GALTs (gut-associated lymphoid tissues). ART (antiretroviral therapy) does not fully restore T cell motility for tissue repopulation. The molecular mechanism dictating this persistent T cell dysfunction is not understood. Cofilin is an actin-depolymerizing factor that regulates actin dynamics for T cell migration. Here, we demonstrate that blood CD4 T cells from HIV-infected patients (n = 193), with or without ART, exhibit significantly lower levels of cofilin phosphorylation (hyperactivation) than those from healthy controls (n = 100; ratio, 1.1:2.3; P < 0.001); cofilin hyperactivation is also associated with poor CD4 T cell recovery following ART. These results suggest an HIV-mediated systemic dysregulation of T cell motility that cannot be repaired solely by ART. We further demonstrate that stimulating blood CD4 T cells with an anti-human α4β7 integrin antibody can trigger signal transduction and modulate the cofilin pathway, partially restoring T cell motility in vitro. However, we also observed that severe T cell motility defect caused by high degrees of cofilin hyperactivation was not repairable by the anti-integrin antibody, demonstrating a mechanistic hindrance to restore immune functions in vivo. Our study suggests that cofilin is a key molecule that may need to be therapeutically targeted early for T cell tissue repopulation, immune reconstitution, and immune control of viremia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbereaat7911
JournalVirginia Law Review
Issue number8
StatePublished - 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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