HIV-1 Productively Infects and Integrates in Bronchial Epithelial Cells

Dinesh Devadoss, Shashi P. Singh, Arpan Acharya, Kieu Chinh Do, Palsamy Periyasamy, Marko Manevski, Neerad Mishra, Carmen S. Tellez, Sundaram Ramakrishnan, Steven A. Belinsky, Siddappa N. Byrareddy, Shilpa Buch, Hitendra S. Chand, Mohan Sopori

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Background: The role of lung epithelial cells in HIV-1-related lung comorbidities remains unclear, and the major hurdle in curing HIV is the persistence of latent HIV reservoirs in people living with HIV (PLWH). The advent of combined antiretroviral therapy has considerably increased the life span; however, the incidence of chronic lung diseases is significantly higher among PLWH. Lung epithelial cells orchestrate the respiratory immune responses and whether these cells are productively infected by HIV-1 is debatable. Methods: Normal human bronchial epithelial cells (NHBEs) grown on air–liquid interface were infected with X4-tropic HIV-1LAV and examined for latency using latency-reversing agents (LRAs). The role of CD4 and CXCR4 HIV coreceptors in NHBEs were tested, and DNA sequencing analysis was used to analyze the genomic integration of HIV proviral genes, Alu-HIVgag-pol, HIV-nef, and HIV-LTR. Lung epithelial sections from HIV-infected humans and SHIV-infected macaques were analyzed by FISH for HIV-gag-pol RNA and epithelial cell-specific immunostaining. Results and Discussion: NHBEs express CD4 and CXCR4 at higher levels than A549 cells. NHBEs are infected with HIV-1 basolaterally, but not apically, by X4-tropic HIV-1LAV in a CXCR4/CD4-dependent manner leading to HIV-p24 antigen production; however, NHBEs are induced to express CCR5 by IL-13 treatment. In the presence of cART, HIV-1 induces latency and integration of HIV provirus in the cellular DNA, which is rescued by the LRAs (endotoxin/vorinostat). Furthermore, lung epithelial cells from HIV-infected humans and SHIV-infected macaques contain HIV-specific RNA transcripts. Thus, lung epithelial cells are targeted by HIV-1 and could serve as potential HIV reservoirs that may contribute to the respiratory comorbidities in PLWH.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number612360
JournalFrontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology
StatePublished - Feb 4 2021


  • Fluorescent in-situ hybridization
  • HIV gag-pol
  • HIV receptors
  • Nested-PCR
  • genomic integration
  • lung epithelial cells

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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