Primate lentiviruses exhibit narrow host tropism, reducing the occurrence of zoonoses but also impairing the development of optimal animal models of AIDS. To delineate the factors limiting cross-species HIV-1 transmission, we passaged a modified HIV-1 in pigtailed macaques that were transiently depleted of CD8+ cells during acute infection. During adaptation over four passages in macaques, HIV-1 acquired the ability to antagonize the macaque restriction factor tetherin, replicated at progressively higher levels, and ultimately caused marked CD4+ T cell depletion and AIDS-defining conditions. Transient treatment with an antibody to CD8 during acute HIV-1 infection caused rapid progression to AIDS, whereas untreated animals exhibited an elite controller phenotype. Thus, an adapted HIV-1 can cause AIDS in macaques, and stark differences in outcome can be determined by immunological perturbations during early infection.
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