There are conflicting reports on the effects of HIV on COVID-19. Here we analyzed disease severity and immune cell changes during and after SARS-CoV-2 infection in 236 participants from South Africa, of which 39% were people living with HIV (PLWH), during the first and second (beta dominated) infection waves. The second wave had more PLWH requiring supplemental oxygen relative to HIV negative participants. Higher disease severity was associated with low CD4 T cell counts and higher neutrophil to lymphocyte ratios (NLR). Yet, CD4 counts recovered and NLR stabilized after SARS-CoV-2 clearance in wave 2 infected PLWH, arguing for an interaction between SARS-CoV-2 and HIV infection leading to low CD4 and high NLR. The first infection wave, where severity in HIV negative and PLWH was similar, still showed some HIV modulation of SARS-CoV-2 immune responses. Therefore, HIV infection can synergize with the SARS-CoV-2 variant to change COVID-19 outcomes.
All data generated or analysed during this study are included in the manuscript and supporting files
- Alex Sigal
The funders had no role in study design, data collection and interpretation, or the decision to submit the work for publication.
Human subjects: The study protocol was approved by the University of KwaZulu-Natal Institutional Review Board (approval BREC/00001275/2020). Adult patients ($>$18 years old) presenting either at King Edward VIII or Clairwood Hospitals in Durban, South Africa, between 8 June to 25 September 2020, diagnosed to be SARS-CoV-2 positive as part of their clinical workup and able to provide informed consent were eligible for the study. Written informed consent was obtained for all enrolled participants.
- Lishomwa Ndhlovu
© 2021, Karim et al.
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.
Double strand breaks (DSBs) are one of the most lethal DNA lesions in cells. The E6 protein of beta-human papillomavirus (HPV8 E6) impairs two critical DSB repair pathways: homologous recombination (HR) and non-homologous end joining (NHEJ). However, HPV8 E6 only delays DSB repair. How DSBs are repaired in cells with HPV8 E6 remains to be studied. We hypothesize that HPV8 E6 promotes a less commonly used DSB repair pathway, alternative end joining (Alt-EJ). Using CAS9-based Alt-EJ reporters, we show that HPV8 E6 promotes Alt-EJ. Further, using small molecule inhibitors, CRISPR/CAS9 gene knockout, and HPV8 E6 mutant, we find that HPV8 E6 promotes Alt-EJ by binding p300, an acetyltransferase that facilitates DSB repair by HR and NHEJ. At least some of this repair occurs through a subset of Alt-EJ known as polymerase theta dependent end joining. Finally, whole genome sequencing analysis showed HPV8 E6 caused an increased frequency of deletions bearing the microhomology signatures of Alt-EJ. This study fills the knowledge gap of how DSB is repaired in cells with HPV8 E6 and the mutagenic consequences of HPV8 E6 mediated p300 destabilization. Broadly, this study supports the hypothesis that beta-HPV promotes cancer formation by increasing genomic instability.
Interspecies interactions can drive the emergence of unexpected microbial phenotypes that are not observed when studying monocultures. The cystic fibrosis (CF) lung consists of a complex environment where microbes, living as polymicrobial biofilm-like communities, are associated with negative clinical outcomes for persons with CF (pwCF). However, the current lack of in vitro models integrating the microbial diversity observed in the CF airway hampers our understanding of why polymicrobial communities are recalcitrant to therapy in this disease. Here, integrating computational approaches informed by clinical data, we built a mixed community of clinical relevance to the CF lung composed of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Staphylococcus aureus, Streptococcus sanguinis, and Prevotella melaninogenica. We developed and validated this model biofilm community with multiple isolates of these four genera. When challenged with tobramycin, a front-line antimicrobial used to treat pwCF, the microorganisms in the polymicrobial community show altered sensitivity to this antibiotic compared to monospecies biofilms. We observed that wild-type P. aeruginosa is sensitized to tobramycin in a mixed community versus monoculture, and this observation holds across a range of community relative abundances. We also report that LasR loss-of-function, a variant frequently detected in the CF airway, drives tolerance of P. aeruginosa to tobramycin specifically in the mixed community. Our data suggest that the molecular basis of this community-specific recalcitrance to tobramycin for the P. aeruginosa lasR mutant is increased production of phenazines. Our work supports the importance of studying a clinically relevant model of polymicrobial biofilms to understand community-specific traits relevant to infections.