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Dual role of autophagy in HIV-1 replication and pathogenesis

M Scott Killian

Author Affiliations

Department of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, Box 1270, 513, Parnassus Avenue, San Francisco, CA, 94143-1270, USA

AIDS Research and Therapy 2012, 9:16  doi:10.1186/1742-6405-9-16

Published: 20 May 2012


Autophagy, the major mechanism for degrading long-lived intracellular proteins and organelles, is essential for eukaryotic cell homeostasis. Autophagy also defends the cell against invasion by microorganisms and has important roles in innate and adaptive immunity. Increasingly evident is that HIV-1 replication is dependent on select components of autophagy. Fittingly, HIV-1 proteins are able to modulate autophagy to maximize virus production. At the same time, HIV-1 proteins appear to disrupt autophagy in uninfected cells, thereby contributing to CD4+ cell death and HIV-1 pathogenesis. These observations allow for new approaches for the treatment and possibly the prevention of HIV-1 infection. This review focuses on the relationship between autophagy and HIV-1 infection. Discussed is how autophagy plays dual roles in HIV-1 replication and HIV-1 disease progression.

HIV; Autophagy; Innate immunity; T cells; Antiretroviral therapy; Pathogenesis