Endocrinology Journal Article

HIV-1 Perturbs BTB Function

November 09, 2021
 

Siwen Wu, Ines Frank, Nina Derby, Elena Martinelli, C Yan Cheng
Endocrinology, Volume 162, Issue 11, November 2021, bqab156
https://doi.org/10.1210/endocr/bqab156

Abstract

Studies suggest that HIV-1 invades the testis through initial permeation of the blood-testis barrier (BTB). The selectivity of the BTB to antiretroviral drugs makes this site a sanctuary for the virus. Little is known about how HIV-1 crosses the BTB and invades the testis. Herein, we used 2 approaches to examine the underlying mechanism(s) by which HIV-1 permeates the BTB and gains entry into the seminiferous epithelium. First, we examined if recombinant Tat protein was capable of perturbing the BTB and making the barrier leaky, using the primary rat Sertoli cell in vitro model that mimics the BTB in vivo. Second, we used HIV-1–infected Sup-T1 cells to investigate the activity of HIV-1 infection on cocultured Sertoli cells. Using both approaches, we found that the Sertoli cell tight junction permeability barrier was considerably perturbed and that HIV-1 effectively permeates the BTB by inducing actin-, microtubule-, vimentin-, and septin-based cytoskeletal changes in Sertoli cells. These studies suggest that HIV-1 directly perturbs BTB function, potentially through the activity of the Tat protein.

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