Dr Qinxue Hu’s group in Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) reports a potential new mechanism underlying HSV-2-mediated enhancement of HIV-1 mucosal transmission (J Immunol, 2012 Jun 15;188(12):6247-57). The article has been selected and evaluated by Faculty of 1000.
Epithelial cells are the main targets of HSV-2 while HIV-1 preferentially infects CD4+ T cells. It has been well documented from epidemiological studies that HSV-2 infection increases the risk of HIV-1 acquisition and transmission, but the underlying mechanism remains elusive. Dr Qinxue Hu’s group demonstrates that HSV-2 infection induces CXCL9 expression in human cervical epithelial cells by activation of p38-C/EBP-β pathway through promoting the binding of C/EBP-β to CXCL9 promoter, which may recruit activated CD4+ T cells to mucosal HSV-2 infection sites and potentially increase the risk of HIV-1 sexual transmission via perturbation of epithelial integrity.
To be instrumental in understanding the mechanisms of HIV-1/HSV-2 mucosal infection which can be used in a translational fashion to develop topical microbicides and mucosal vaccines, ongoing study in Dr Qinxue Hu’s group focuses on two aspects: HIV-1 mucosal infection and immunity; HSV-2/HIV-1 co-infection and inhibition.