HIV-1 evades virus-specific IgG2 and IgA responses by targeting systemic and intestinal B cells via long-range intercellular conduits
nef Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus
Contact-dependent communication between immune cells generates protection but also facilitates viral spread. Here we found that macrophages formed long-range actin-propelled conduits in response to negative factor (Nef), a human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) protein with immunosuppressive functions. Conduits attenuated immunoglobulin G2 (IgG2) and IgA class switching in systemic and intestinal lymphoid follicles by shuttling Nef from infected macrophages to B cells through a guanine-exchange factor-dependent pathway involving the amino-terminal anchor, central core and carboxy-terminal flexible loop of Nef. By showing stronger virus-specific IgG2 and IgA responses in patients with Nef-deficient virions, our data suggest that HIV-1 exploits intercellular 'highways' as a 'Trojan horse' to deliver Nef to B cells and evade humoral immunity systemically and at mucosal sites of entry.