HIV-1 cell-to-cell transmission confers a strong advantage as it increases efficiency of transfer up to 100-fold compared with a cell-free route. Mechanisms of HIV-1 cell-to-cell transmission are still unclear and can in part be explained by the presence of actin-containing cellular protrusions. Such protrusions have been shown to facilitate cell-to-cell viral dissemination. Using fluorescence microscopy, electron tomography, and ion abrasion scanning electron microscopy we show that HIV-1 induces membrane extensions in immature dendritic cells through activation of Cdc42. We demonstrate that these extensions are induced after engagement of DC-SIGN by HIV-1 env via a cascade that involves Src kinases, Cdc42, Pak1, and Wasp. Silencing of Cdc42 or treatment with a specific Cdc42 inhibitor, Secramine A, dramatically reduced the number of membrane protrusions visualized on the cell surface and decreased HIV-1 transfer via infectious synapses. Ion abrasion scanning electron microscopy of cell-cell contact regions showed that cellular extensions from immature dendritic cells that have the appearance of thin filopodia in thin section images are indeed extended membranous sheets with a narrow cross section. Our results demonstrate that HIV-1 binding on immature dendritic cells enhances the formation of membrane extensions that facilitate HIV-1 transfer to CD4 + T lymphocytes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology