Phagocytosis of Individual CD4+ T Cells by HIV-Induced T Cell Syncytia

Seamus Murphy, Andrew Sylwester, Ronald C. Kennedy, David R. Soll

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)433-442
Number of pages10
JournalAIDS Research and Human Retroviruses
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1995
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Virology
  • Infectious Diseases


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