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Dr. Maria-Isabel Thoulouze - The HIV-1 biofilm, viral spread and persistence


Maria-Isabel Thoulouze

UMR 1225 Interactions Hôtes - Agents Pathogènes, Ecole Nationale Vétérinaire de Toulouse

The HIV-1 biofilm, viral spread and persistence

The way by which HIV-1 spreads via cell-cell contacts between T lymphocytes, and more generally how HIV-1 “travels” from one cell to another, remains unclear. Most work on HIV-1 infection has focused on free, individual viral particles. However, recent works have shown that in addition to conventional individual virions, viral spreading may involve new types of highly infectious structures, which cluster virions, enable their collective transfer to target cells and favor co-infection.

We have previously observed that Human T cell Leukemia Virus (HTLV-1) encases itself in extracellular matrix “cocoons” bound to the surface of infected cells. These structures with biofilm-like properties promote an efficient and rapid spread of viral infection via cell-cell contacts. These findings have revealed a new key mechanism of viral spreading that we also observed for HIV-1. Concentrating virions within such an adhesive and protective microenvironment may not only contribute to viral propagation but may also favor viral persistence in vivo. The role of “viral biofilms” in HIV-1 spread and its consequences in terms of viral persistence will be discussed.

Selected references

  • Thoulouze M-I and Alcover A (2011) Can viruses form biofilms ? Trends Microbiol 19(6):257-62
  • Pais-Correia AM, Sachse M, Guadagnini S, Robbiati V, Lasserre R, Gessain A, Gout O, Alcover A and Thoulouze M-I (2010) Biofilm-like extracellular viral assemblies mediate HTLV-1 cell-to-cell transmission Nat Med 16(1):83-9
  • Alcover A and Thoulouze M-I (2010) Vesicle traffic to the immunological synapse. A multifunctional process targeted by lymphotropic viruses. Curr Top Microbiol Immunol 340:191-207
  • Sol-Foulon N, Sourisseau M, Porrot F, Thoulouze MI, Trouillet C, Nobile C, Blanchet F, di Bartolo V, Noraz N, Taylor N, Alcover A, Hivroz C and Schwartz O (2007)  ZAP-70 kinase regulates HIV cell-to-cell spread and virological synapse formation. EMBO J 26(2):51
  • Thoulouze, MI, Sol-Foulon, N, Blanchet F, Dautry-Varsat A, Schwartz O and Alcover A (2006) Human Immunodeficiency Virus type-1 infection impairs the formation of the immunological synapse. Immunity 24(5):547-561


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15 Jan

11:00 - 12:00

Seminar room - IPBS - Campus 205