Although immunodeficiency viruses can enter resting CD4+ T lymphocytes, activation of T cells is required for complete viral cDNA synthesis and transport of double-stranded viral DNA to the nucleus. Cross-linking T cell receptors (TCRs) on resting CD4+ T cells induces reverse transcription of full-length simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) genomes, but TCR engagement alone is insufficient to stimulate SIV DNA to move to the nucleus and form long terminal repeat (LTR) circles. Neither ligation of TCR or CD28 receptors nor interleukin 2 (IL-2) alone induces formation of LTR circles; however, the combination of TCR ligation with either CD28 ligation or IL-2 doses. Anti-IL-2 serum inhibits the formation of LTR circles induced by cross-linking CD3 and CD28, but has no effect on the induction of increased viral reverse transcription. Thus, two signals appear to be required for immunodeficiency viruses to move to the T cell nucleus, one from the TCR to promote reverse transcription of the viral genome, the other through an IL-2-dependent process leading to formation of LTR circles.

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