Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection is characterized by a progressive decrease of CD4+ T cells accompanied by other immune dysfunctions. Telomerase is transiently activated in lymphocytes during activation and is able to compensate for the progressive telomeric loss that occurs at each cell division, contributing to ensure the telomere length necessary for multiple proliferative events. The effect of HIV-1 infection on telomerase activity and on the expression of some of the factors involved in its regulation in CD4+ T cells was investigated. Telomerase was found to be downregulated in both nuclear and cytoplasmic compartments, together with an impairment of human telomerase reverse transcriptase (hTERT) expression and of the cell machinery involved in hTERT phosporylation.
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