Single-molecule super-resolution imaging of T-cell plasma membrane CD4 redistribution upon HIV-1 binding

Yue Yuan, Caron Jacobs, Isabel Llorente Garcia, Pedro M Pereira, Scott P.Lawrence, Romain F Laine, Mark Marsh, Ricardo Henriques (see publication in Journal )


The first step of cellular entry for the human immunodeficiency virus type-1 (HIV-1) occurs through the binding of its envelope protein (Env) with the plasma membrane receptor CD4 and co-receptor CCR5 or CXCR4 on susceptible cells, primarily CD4+ T cells and macrophages. Although there is considerable knowledge of the molecular interactions between Env and host cell receptors that lead to successful fusion, the precise way in which HIV-1 receptors redistribute to sites of virus binding at the nanoscale remains unknown. Here, we quantitatively examine changes in the nanoscale organisation of CD4 on the surface of CD4+ T cells following HIV-1 binding. Using single-molecule super-resolution imaging, we show that CD4 molecules are distributed mostly as either individual molecules or small clusters of up to 4 molecules. Following virus binding, we observe a local 3-to-10-fold increase in cluster diameter and molecule number for virus-associated CD4 clusters. Moreover, a similar but smaller magnitude reorganisation of CD4 was also observed with recombinant gp120. For one of the first times, our results quantify the nanoscale CD4 reorganisation triggered by HIV-1 on host CD4+ T cells. Our quantitative approach provides a robust methodology for characterising the nanoscale organisation of plasma membrane receptors in general with the potential to link spatial organisation to function.