Humanized mice have emerged as a testing platform for HIV-1 pathobiology by reflecting natural human disease processes. Their use to study HIV-1 biology, virology, immunology, pathogenesis and therapeutic development has served as a robust alternative to more-well developed animal models for HIV/AIDS. A critical component in reflecting such human pathobiology rests in defining the tissue and cellular sites for HIV-1 infection. To this end, we examined the tissue sites for viral infection in bone marrow, blood, spleens, liver, gut, brain, kidney and lungs of human CD34+ hematopoietic stem cell engrafted virus-infected NOD.Cg-Prkdcscid Il2rgtm1Wjl/SzJ mice. Cells were analyzed by flow cytometry and sorted from species mixtures defined as CD34+ lineage negative progenitor cells, CD14+CD16+ monocyte-macrophages and central, stem cell and effector memory T cells. The cell distribution and viral life cycle were found dependent on the tissue compartment and time of infection. Cell subsets contained HIV-1 total and integrated DNA as well as multi-spliced and unspliced RNA in divergent proportions. The data support the idea that humanized mice can provide a means to examine the multifaceted sites of HIV-1 replication including, but not limited to progenitor cells and monocyte-macrophages previously possible only in macaques and human.
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