Human Immunodeficiency Virus-type 2 (HIV-2) encodes Vpx that degrades SAMHD1, a cellular restriction factor active in non-dividing cells. HIV-2 replicates in lymphocytes but the susceptibility of monocyte-derived dendritic cells (MDDCs) to in vitro infection remains partly characterized.
Here, we investigated HIV-2 replication in primary CD4+ T lymphocytes, both activated and non-activated, as well as in MDDCs. We focused on the requirement of Vpx for productive HIV-2 infection, using the reference HIV-2 ROD strain, the proviral clone GL-AN, as well as two primary HIV-2 isolates. All HIV-2 strains tested replicated in activated CD4+ T cells. Unstimulated CD4+ T cells were not productively infected by HIV-2, but viral replication was triggered upon lymphocyte activation in a Vpx-dependent manner. In contrast, MDDCs were poorly infected when exposed to HIV-2. HIV-2 particles did not potently fuse with MDDCs and did not lead to efficient viral DNA synthesis, even in the presence of Vpx. Moreover, the HIV-2 strains tested were not efficiently sensed by MDDCs, as evidenced by a lack of MxA induction upon viral exposure. Virion pseudotyping with VSV-G rescued fusion, productive infection and HIV-2 sensing by MDDCs.
Vpx allows the non-productive infection of resting CD4+ T cells, but does not confer HIV-2 with the ability to efficiently infect MDDCs. In these cells, an entry defect prevents viral fusion and reverse transcription independently of SAMHD1. We propose that HIV-2, like HIV-1, does not productively infect MDDCs, possibly to avoid triggering an immune response mediated by these cells.