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Restriction of HIV-1 infection in naturally resistant human cells

Final Activity Report Summary - RESTRICTHIV (Restriction of HIV-1 infection in naturally resistant human cells.)

Certain cell types, particularly cells of the immune system, are favoured targets of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1), while other cell types are either less easily infected or resistant to infection. Trophoblast cells constitute the main cellular component of the human placenta. These cells are naturally resistant to cell-free HIV-1 infection, suggesting that this cell type possesses a restriction mechanism which offers protection against HIV-1.

The objective of this project was to identify and characterise the restriction mechanisms in these placental cells. The project results showed that, even though cell-free HIV-1 internalisation occurred, a restriction mechanism in trophoblast cells prevented HIV-1 virions to complete infection. The results supported the notion that trophoblast cells recognised HIV-1 virions during the very first steps of the viral life cycle and internalised them via a non-productive entry route.

The elucidation of the mechanisms involved in HIV-1 infection and restriction of placental trophoblast cells remained of utmost importance on account of the potential implications in the identification of new targets for therapeutic drugs.