PLoS pathogens 2017 06 2713(6) e1006445 doi 10.1371/journal.ppat.1006445
CD4 T cells harboring HIV-1/SIV represent a formidable hurdle to eradicating infection, and yet their detailed phenotype remains unknown. Here we integrate two single-cell technologies, flow cytometry and highly multiplexed quantitative RT-PCR, to characterize SIV-infected CD4 T cells directly ex vivo. Within individual cells, we correlate the cellular phenotype, in terms of host protein and RNA expression, with stages of the viral life cycle defined by combinatorial expression of viral RNAs. Spliced RNA+ infected cells display multiple memory and activation phenotypes, indicating virus production by diverse CD4 T cell subsets. In most (but not all) cells, progressive infection accompanies post-transcriptional downregulation of CD4 protein, while surface MHC class I is largely retained. Interferon-stimulated genes were also commonly upregulated. Thus, we demonstrate that combined quantitation of transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation at the single-cell level informs in vivo mechanisms of viral replication and immune evasion.