Active PD-L1 Incorporation within HIV Virions Functionally Impairs T Follicular Helper cells
The limited development of broadly neutralizing antibodies (BnAbs) during HIV infection is classically attributed to an inadequate B-cell help brought by functionally impaired T follicular helper (Tfh) cells. However, the determinants of Tfh-cell functional impairment and the signals contributing to this condition remain elusive. In the present study, we showed that PD-L1 is incorporated within HIV virions through an active mechanism involving p17 HIV matrix protein. We subsequently showed that in vitro produced PD-L1high but not PD-L1low HIV virions, significantly reduced Tfh-cell proliferation and IL-21 production, ultimately leading to a decreased of IgG1 secretion from GC B cells. Interestingly, Tfh-cell functions were fully restored in presence of anti-PD-L1/2 blocking mAbs treatment, demonstrating that the incorporated PD-L1 proteins were functionally active. Taken together, the present study unveils an immunovirological mechanism by which HIV specifically exploits the regulatory potential of PD-L1 to suppress the immune system during the course of HIV infection.