Many HIV-1 isolates at the late stage of disease are capable of using both CXCR4 and CCR5 in transfected cell lines, and are thus termed dual- tropic. Here we asked whether these dual-tropic variants also use both coreceptors for productive infection in a natural human lymphoid tissue microenvironment, and whether use of a particular coreceptor is associated with viral cytopathicity. We used 3 cloned dual-tropic HIV-1 variants, 89.6 and its chimeras 89-v345.SF and 89-v345.FL, which use both CCR5 and CXCR4 in transfected cell lines. In human lymphoid tissue ex vivo, one variant preferentially used CCR5, another preferentially used CXCR4, and a third appeared to be a true dual-tropic variant. The 2 latter variants severely depleted CD4+ T cells, whereas cytopathicity of the virus that used CCR5 only in lymphoid tissue was mild and confined to CCR5+/CD4+ T cells. Thus, (a) HIV-1 coreceptor usage in vitro cannot be unconditionally extrapolated to natural microenvironment of human lymphoid tissue; (b) dual-tropic viruses are not homogeneous in their coreceptor usage in lymphoid tissue, but probably comprise a continuum between the 2 polar variants that use CXCR4 or CCR5 exclusively; and (c) cytopathicity toward the general CD4+ T cell population in lymphoid tissue is associated with the use of CXCR4.
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