Two immature T cell lines (FT1 and FT4) were established after cloning of peripheral blood lymphocytes (PBLs) from an asymptomatic human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) seropositive, human T cell-lymphotropic virus type 1 seronegative homosexual subject. Although derived from a limiting dilution cell cloning assay, these cell lines were not recloned for this study. Their growth was independent of exogenous interleukin-2. Both cell lines were able to form colonies when cloned in agar, but failed to form solid tumours when injected into nude mice. FT lines belong to the very immature T cell lineage as they exhibit rearranged TCR genes but no expression of T cell membrane antigens, including CD2, CD3, CD4, CD6, CD7 and CD8. They also contain an HIV-1 genome that was detected only in an extra-chromosomal DNA form, even after several passages . The presence of unintegrated viral DNA was also detected by polymerase chain reaction analysis in the same sample of fresh uncultured PBLs. Furthermore, despite the absence of CD4 expression, both T cell lines were susceptible to CD4-independent HIV-1 superinfection (lack of superinfection inhibition in the presence of OKT4A monoclonal antibodies).


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