Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950) 2018 04 09() pii 10.4049/jimmunol.1701284
Among HIV-infected individuals, long-term nonprogressor (LTNP) patients experience slow CD4 T cell decline and almost undetectable viral load for several years after primary acquisition of HIV. Type I IFN has been suggested to play a pathogenic role in HIV pathogenesis, and therefore diminished IFN responses may underlie the LTNP phenotype. In this study, we examined the presence and possible immunological role of multiple homozygous single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the stimulator of IFN genes (STING) encoding gene involved in IFN induction and T cell proliferation in HIV LTNP patients. We identified LTNPs through the Danish HIV Cohort and performed genetic analysis by Sanger sequencing, covering the R71H-G230A-R293Q (HAQ) single-nucleotide polymorphisms in This was followed by investigation of STING mRNA and protein accumulation as well as innate immune responses and proliferation following STING stimulation and infection with replication-competent HIV in human blood-derived cells. We identified G230A-R293Q/G230A-R293Q and HAQ/HAQ homozygous variants in 2 out of 11 LTNP patients. None of the 11 noncontrollers on antiretroviral treatment were homozygous for these variants. We found decreased innate immune responses to DNA and HIV as well as reduced STING-dependent inhibition of CD4 T cell proliferation, particularly in the HAQ/HAQ HIV LTNP patients, compared with the age- and gender-matched noncontrollers on antiretroviral treatment. These findings suggest that homozygous HAQ STING variants contribute to reduced inhibition of CD4 T cell proliferation and a reduced immune response toward DNA and HIV, which might result in reduced levels of constitutive IFN production. Consequently, the HAQ/HAQ genotype may contribute to the slower disease progression characteristic of LTNPs.