The syncytiotrophoblast layer of the human placenta has an important role in limiting transplacental viral spread from mother to fetus. Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) is capable of establishing a latent infection in syncytiotrophoblast cells, with restriction of gene expression to immediate-early and early proteins. We analyzed the extent of replication of human T cell leukemia-lymphoma virus type I (HTLV-I) in human term syncytiotrophoblasts infected with HTLV-I alone or coinfected with HTLV-I and HCMV. Although syncytiotrophoblasts could be infected with cell-free HTLV-I, no viral protein expression was found in the singly infected cells. On the contrary, coinfection of the cells with HTLV-I and HCMV resulted in simultaneous replication of both viruses. Bidirectional enhancing activities between HTLV-I and HCMV were mediated primarily by the Tax and immediate-early proteins, respectively. The stimulatory effect of HTLV-I Tax on HCMV replication appeared to be mediated partly by tumor necrosis factor β and transforming growth factor β-1. We observed formation of pseudotypes with HTLV-I nucleocapsids within HCMV envelopes, whereas HCMV was not pseudotyped by HTLV-I envelopes in dually infected syncytiotrophoblast cells. Our data suggest that in vivo dual infection of syncytiotrophoblast cells with HTLV-I and HCMV may facilitate the transplacental transmission of both viruses.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Infectious Diseases