Direct Binding of Complement Component C1q to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Human T Lymphotrophic Virus-I (HTLV-I) Coinfected Cells

Gregory T. Spear, Haixiang Jiang, Brenda L. Sullivan, Henry Gewürz, Alan L. Landay, Thomas F. Lint

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous studies have shown that coinfection of the human T lymphotrophic virus type I (HTLV-I) chronically infected cell line MT4 with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) results in cells which spontaneously activate complement via the classical pathway. This complement activation was antibody independent, yet required C2, suggesting either direct C1, C4, or C2 activation. Because some animal retroviruses have been shown to bind human C1q directly, the present study investigated the possible direct binding of C1q by HIV coinfected MT4 cells. Coinfected cells bound both C1q present in serum and highly purified C1q. Binding of C1q resulted in formation of active C1 on the cell surface, which could in turn activate complement as shown by C4 consumption. The C1q binding was not HIV-isolate specific since infection of MT4 cells with any of three diverse isolates all induced C1q binding. Purified collagen-like region (CLR) and globular region (GR) fragments of C1q both bound to coinfected cells, suggesting a mechanism of binding by C1q similar to that of fibronectin-C1q binding. However, culture of coinfected cells in serum-free (fibronectin-free) medium did not reduce C1q binding. A second HTLV-I chronically infected line, SLB-1, also displayed increased binding of C1q after HIV infection. The H9 cell line, which is not HTLV-I infected, did not bind C1q after HIV infection. These results suggest that a retrovirus protein expressed by coinfected cells directly binds C1q resulting in classical complement activation. This type of activation may have profound biological effects in persons coinfected with HIV-1 and HTLV-I.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)579-585
Number of pages7
JournalAIDS Research and Human Retroviruses
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1991
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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