Direct and quantitative single-cell analysis of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 reactivation from latency

Olaf Kutsch, Etty N. Benveniste, George M. Shaw, David N. Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The ability of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) to establish latent infections in cells has received renewed attention owing to the failure of highly active antiretroviral therapy to eradicate HIV-1 in vivo. Despite much study, the molecular bases of HIV-1 latency and reactivation are incompletely understood. Research on HIV-1 latency would benefit from a model system that is amenable to rapid and efficient analysis and through which compounds capable of regulating HIV-1 reactivation may be conveniently screened. We describe a novel reporter system that has several advantages over existing in vitro systems, which require elaborate, expensive, and time-consuming techniques to measure virus production. Two HIV-1 molecular clones (NL4-3 and 89.6) were engineered to express enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) under the control of the viral long terminal repeat without removing any viral sequences. By using these replication-competent viruses, latently infected T-cell (Jurkat) and monocyte/macrophage (THP-1) lines in which EGFP fluorescence and virus expression are tightly coupled were generated. Following reactivation with agents such as tumor necrosis factor alpha, virus expression and EGFP fluorescence peaked after 4 days and over the next 3 weeks each declined in a synchronized manner, recapitulating the establishment of latency. Using fluorescence microscopy, flow cytometry, or plate-based fluorometry, this system allows immediate, direct, and quantitative real-time analysis of these processes within single cells or in bulk populations of cells. Exploiting the single-cell analysis abilities of this system, we demonstrate that cellular activation and virus reactivation following stimulation with proinflammatory cytokines can be uncoupled.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8776-8786
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number17
StatePublished - 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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