Transmission electron microscopic analysis of HIV-induced syncytia of the CD4+ SupT1 cell line has revealed profiles of whole T cells in the syncytium cytoplasm. Serial sections demonstrate that these T cells are completely enveloped by a second membrane in the syncytium cytoplasm and represent phagosomes. Pycnosis of engulfed T cell nuclei, vacuolation of the cytoplasm of engulfed T cells, and the association of engulfed T cells with dense vesicular clusters in the syncytium cytoplasm support the conclusion that they represent phagosomes. In addition, transmission electron micrographs of the syncytium surface reveal giant pseudopodial extensions wrapping around T cells, in a fashion similar to bacterial and yeast phagocytosis by professional phagocytes. These results suggest that phagocytosis is a characteristic acquired during HIV-induced syncytium formation, and that it may represent an avenue of T cell death in addition to fusion in HIV-infected SupT1 cell cultures.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases