Clonal expansions occur in the persistent HIV reservoir as shown by the duplication of proviral integration sites. However, the source of the proliferation of HIV-infected cells remains unclear. Here, we analyze the TCR repertoire of single HIV-infected cells harboring translation-competent proviruses in longitudinal samples from eight individuals on anti-retroviral therapy (ART). When compared to uninfected cells, the TCR repertoire of reservoir cells is heavily biased: expanded clonotypes are present in all individuals, account for the majority of reservoir cells and are often maintained over time on ART. Infected T cell clones are detected at low frequencies in the long-lived central memory compartment and over- represented in the most differentiated memory subsets. Our results indicate that clonal expansions highly contribute to the persistence of the HIV reservoir and suggest that reservoir cells displaying a differentiated phenotype are the progeny of infected central memory cells undergoing antigen-driven clonal expansion during ART.
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