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Jean-Yves Sgro
Inst. for Mol.Virology
731B Bock Labs
1525 Linden Drive Madison, WI 53706

Table of Contents for this page:

  • Current Issue
  • Current Issue of Retrovirology

    Retrovirology - Latest Articles

  • Griffithsin tandemers: flexible and potent lectin inhibitors of the human immunodeficiency virus

  • Background: The lectin griffithsin (GRFT) is a potent antiviral agent capable of prevention and treatment of infections caused by a number of enveloped viruses and is currently under development as an anti-HIV microbicide. In addition to its broad antiviral activity, GRFT is stable at high temperature and at a broad pH range, displays little toxicity and immunogenicity, and is amenable to large-scale manufacturing. Native GRFT is a domain-swapped homodimer that binds to viral envelope glycoproteins and has displayed mid-picomolar activity in cell-based anti-HIV assays. Previously, we have engineered and analyzed several monomeric forms of this lectin (mGRFT) with anti-HIV EC50 values ranging up to 323 nM. Based on our previous analysis of mGRFT, we hypothesized that the orientation and spacing of the carbohydrate binding domains GRFT were key to its antiviral activity. Results: Here we present data on engineered tandem repeats of mGRFT (mGRFT tandemers) with antiviral activity at concentrations as low as one picomolar in whole-cell anti-HIV assays. mGRFT tandemers were analyzed thermodynamically, both individually and in complex with HIV-1 gp120. We also demonstrate by dynamic light scattering and cryo-electron microscopy that mGRFT tandemers do not aggregate HIV virions. This establishes that, although the intra-virion crosslinking of HIV envelope glycoproteins is likely integral to their activity, the antiviral activity of these lectins is not due to virus aggregation caused by inter-virion crosslinking. Conclusions: The engineered tandemer constructs of mGRFT may provide novel and powerful agents for prevention of infection by HIV and other enveloped viruses.

  • Opposing regulation of endolysosomal pathways by long-acting nanoformulated antiretroviral therapy and HIV-1 in human macrophages

  • Background: Long-acting nanoformulated antiretroviral therapy (nanoART) is designed to improve subject regimen adherence, reduce systemic drug toxicities, and facilitate clearance of human immunodeficiency virus type one (HIV-1) infection. While nanoART establishes drug depots within recycling and late monocyte-macrophage endosomes, whether or not this provides a strategic advantage towards viral elimination has not been elucidated. Results: We applied quantitative SWATH-MS proteomics and cell profiling to nanoparticle atazanavir (nanoATV)-treated and HIV-1 infected human monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM). Native ATV and uninfected cells served as controls. Both HIV-1 and nanoATV engaged endolysosomal trafficking for assembly and depot formation, respectively. Notably, the pathways were deregulated in opposing manners by the virus and the nanoATV likely by viral clearance. Paired-sample z-scores, of the proteomic data sets, showed up- and down- regulation of Rab-linked endolysosomal proteins. NanoART and native ATV treated uninfected cells showed limited effects. The data was confirmed by Western blot. DAVID and KEGG bioinformatics analyses of proteomic data showed relationships between secretory, mobility and phagocytic cell functions and virus and particle trafficking. Conclusions: We posit that modulation of endolysosomal pathways by antiretroviral nanoparticles provides a strategic path to combat HIV infection.

  • Endogenous CCL2 neutralization restricts HIV-1 replication in primary human macrophages by inhibiting viral DNA accumulation

  • Background: Macrophages are key targets of HIV-1 infection. We have previously described that the expression of CC chemokine ligand 2 (CCL2) increases during monocyte differentiation to macrophages and it is further up-modulated by HIV-1 exposure. Moreover, CCL2 acts as an autocrine factor that promotes viral replication in infected macrophages. In this study, we dissected the molecular mechanisms by which CCL2 neutralization inhibits HIV-1 replication in monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM), and the potential involvement of the innate restriction factors protein sterile alpha motif (SAM) histidine/aspartic acid (HD) domain containing 1 (SAMHD1) and apolipoprotein B mRNA-editing, enzyme-catalytic, polypeptide-like 3 (APOBEC3) family members. Results: CCL2 neutralization potently reduced the number of p24 Gag+ cells during the course of either productive or single cycle infection with HIV-1. In contrast, CCL2 blocking did not modify entry of HIV-1 based Virus Like Particles, thus demonstrating that the restriction involves post-entry steps of the viral life cycle. Notably, the accumulation of viral DNA, both total, integrated and 2-LTR circles, was strongly impaired by neutralization of CCL2. Looking for correlates of HIV-1 DNA accumulation inhibition, we found that the antiviral effect of CCL2 neutralization was independent of the modulation of SAMHD1 expression or function. Conversely, a strong and selective induction of APOBEC3A expression, to levels comparable to those of freshly isolated monocytes, was associated with the inhibition of HIV-1 replication mediated by CCL2 blocking. Interestingly, the CCL2 neutralization mediated increase of APOBEC3A expression was type I IFN independent. Moreover, the transcriptome analysis of the effect of CCL2 blocking on global gene expression revealed that the neutralization of this chemokine resulted in the upmodulation of additional genes involved in the defence response to viruses. Conclusions: Neutralization of endogenous CCL2 determines a profound restriction of HIV-1 replication in primary MDM affecting post-entry steps of the viral life cycle with a mechanism independent of SAMHD1. In addition, CCL2 blocking is associated with induction of APOBEC3A expression, thus unravelling a novel mechanism which might contribute to regulate the expression of innate intracellular viral antagonists in vivo. Thus, our study may potentially lead to the development of new therapeutic strategies for enhancing innate cellular defences against HIV-1 and protecting macrophages from infection.

  • Sequence and structural determinants of human APOBEC3H deaminase and anti-HIV-1 activities

  • Background: Human APOBEC3H (A3H) belongs to the A3 family of host restriction factors, which are cytidine deaminases that catalyze conversion of deoxycytidine to deoxyuridine in single-stranded DNA. A3 proteins contain either one (A3A, A3C, A3H) or two (A3B, A3D, A3F, A3G) Zn-binding domains. A3H has seven haplotypes (I-VII) that exhibit diverse biological phenotypes and geographical distribution in the human population. Its single Zn-coordinating deaminase domain belongs to a phylogenetic cluster (Z3) that is different from the Z1- and Z2-type domains in other human A3 proteins. A3H HapII, unlike A3A or A3C, has potent activity against HIV-1. Here, we sought to identify the determinants of A3H HapII deaminase and antiviral activities, using site-directed sequence- and structure-guided mutagenesis together with cell-based, biochemical, and HIV-1 infectivity assays. Results: We have constructed a homology model of A3H HapII, which is similar to the known structures of other A3 proteins. The model revealed a large cluster of basic residues (not present in A3A or A3C) that are likely to be involved in nucleic acid binding. Indeed, RNase A pretreatment of 293T cell lysates expressing A3H was shown to be required for detection of deaminase activity, indicating that interaction with cellular RNAs inhibits A3H catalytic function. Similar observations have been made with A3G. Analysis of A3H deaminase substrate specificity demonstrated that a 5? T adjacent to the catalytic C is preferred. Changing the putative nucleic acid binding residues identified by the model resulted in reduction or abrogation of enzymatic activity, while substituting Z3-specific residues in A3H to the corresponding residues in other A3 proteins did not affect enzyme function. As shown for A3G and A3F, some A3H mutants were defective in catalysis, but retained antiviral activity against HIV-1vif (?) virions. Furthermore, endogenous reverse transcription assays demonstrated that the E56A catalytic mutant inhibits HIV-1 DNA synthesis, although not as efficiently as wild type. Conclusions: The molecular and biological activities of A3H are more similar to those of the double-domain A3 proteins than to those of A3A or A3C. Importantly, A3H appears to use both deaminase-dependent and -independent mechanisms to target reverse transcription and restrict HIV-1 replication.

  • HIV-2 infects resting CD4+ T cells but not monocyte-derived dendritic cells

  • Background: Human Immunodeficiency Virus-type 2 (HIV-2) encodes Vpx that degrades SAMHD1, a cellular restriction factor active in non-dividing cells. HIV-2 replicates in lymphocytes but the susceptibility of monocyte-derived dendritic cells (MDDCs) to in vitro infection remains partly characterized. Results: Here, we investigated HIV-2 replication in primary CD4+ T lymphocytes, both activated and non-activated, as well as in MDDCs. We focused on the requirement of Vpx for productive HIV-2 infection, using the reference HIV-2 ROD strain, the proviral clone GL-AN, as well as two primary HIV-2 isolates. All HIV-2 strains tested replicated in activated CD4+ T cells. Unstimulated CD4+ T cells were not productively infected by HIV-2, but viral replication was triggered upon lymphocyte activation in a Vpx-dependent manner. In contrast, MDDCs were poorly infected when exposed to HIV-2. HIV-2 particles did not potently fuse with MDDCs and did not lead to efficient viral DNA synthesis, even in the presence of Vpx. Moreover, the HIV-2 strains tested were not efficiently sensed by MDDCs, as evidenced by a lack of MxA induction upon viral exposure. Virion pseudotyping with VSV-G rescued fusion, productive infection and HIV-2 sensing by MDDCs. Conclusion: Vpx allows the non-productive infection of resting CD4+ T cells, but does not confer HIV-2 with the ability to efficiently infect MDDCs. In these cells, an entry defect prevents viral fusion and reverse transcription independently of SAMHD1. We propose that HIV-2, like HIV-1, does not productively infect MDDCs, possibly to avoid triggering an immune response mediated by these cells.

  • The highly polymorphic cyclophilin A-binding loop in HIV-1 capsid modulates viral resistance to MxB

  • Background: The human myxovirus-resistance protein B (MxB, also called Mx2) was recently reported to inhibit HIV-1 infection by impeding the nuclear import and integration of viral DNA. However, it is currently unknown whether there exist MxB-resistant HIV-1 strains in the infected individuals. Answer to this question should address whether MxB exerts an inhibitory pressure on HIV-1 in vivo and whether HIV-1 has evolved to evade MxB inhibition.FindingsWe have examined ten transmitted founder (T/F) HIV-1 strains for their sensitivity to MxB inhibition by infecting CD4+ T cell lines SupT1 and PM1 that were stably transduced to express MxB. Two T/F stains, CH040.c and RHPA.c, were found resistant and this resistance phenotype was mapped to the amino acid positions 87 and 208 in viral capsid. The H87Q mutation is located in the cyclophilin A (CypA) binding loop and has a prevalence of 21% in HIV-1 sequences registered in HIV database. This finding prompted us to test other frequent amino acid variants in the CypA-binding region and the results revealed MxB-resistant mutations at amino acid positions 86, 87, 88 and 92 in capsid. All these mutations diminished the interaction of HIV-1 capsid with CypA. Conclusions: Our results demonstrate the existence of MxB-resistant T/F HIV-1 strains. The high prevalence of MxB-resistant mutations in the CypA-binding loop indicates the significant selective pressure of MxB on HIV-1 replication in vivo especially given that this viral resistance mechanism operates at expense of losing CypA.

  • Caveolin-1 mediated uptake via langerin restricts HIV-1 infection in human Langerhans cells

  • Background: Human Langerhans cells (LCs) reside in foreskin and vaginal mucosa and are the first immune cells to interact with HIV-1 during sexual transmission. LCs capture HIV-1 through the C-type lectin receptor langerin, which routes the virus into Birbeck granules (BGs), thereby preventing HIV-1 infection. BGs are langerin-positive organelles exclusively present in LCs, however, their origin and function are unknown. Results: Here, we not only show that langerin and caveolin-1 co-localize at the cell membrane and in vesicles but also that BGs are langerin/caveolin-1-positive vesicles are linked to the lysosomal degradation pathway in LCs. Moreover, inhibition of caveolar endocytosis in primary LCs abrogated HIV-1 sequestering into langerin+ caveolar structures. Notably, both inhibition of caveolar uptake and silencing of caveolar structure protein caveolin-1 resulted in increased HIV-1 integration and subsequent infection. In contrast, inhibition of clathrin-mediated endocytosis did not affect HIV-1 integration, even though HIV-1 uptake was decreased, suggesting that clathrin-mediated endocytosis is not involved in HIV-1 restriction in LCs. Conclusions: Thus, our data strongly indicate that BGs belong to the caveolar endocytosis pathway and that caveolin-1 mediated HIV-1 uptake is an intrinsic restriction mechanism present in human LCs that prevents HIV-1 infection. Harnessing this particular internalization pathway has the potential to facilitate strategies to combat HIV-1 transmission.

  • Friend retrovirus drives cytotoxic effectors through Toll-like receptor 3

  • Background: Pathogen recognition drives host defense towards viral infections. Specific groups rather than single members of the protein family of pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) such as membrane spanning Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and cytosolic helicases might mediate sensing of replication intermediates of a specific virus species. TLR7 mediates host sensing of retroviruses and could significantly influence retrovirus-specific antibody responses. However, the origin of efficient cell-mediated immunity towards retroviruses is unknown. Double-stranded RNA intermediates produced during retroviral replication are good candidates for immune stimulatory viral products. Thus, we considered TLR3 as primer of cell-mediated immunity against retroviruses in vivo. Results: Infection of mice deficient in TLR3 (TLR3−/−) with Friend retrovirus (FV) complex revealed higher viral loads during acute retroviral infection compared to wild type mice. TLR3−/− mice exhibited significantly lower expression levels of type I interferons (IFNs) and IFN-stimulated genes like Pkr or Ifi44, as well as reduced numbers of activated myeloid dendritic cells (DCs) (CD86+ and MHC-II+). DCs generated from FV-infected TLR3−/− mice were less capable of priming virus-specific CD8+ T cell proliferation. Moreover, cytotoxicity of natural killer (NK) cells as well as CD8+ T cells were reduced in vitro and in vivo, respectively, in FV-infected TLR3-/- mice. Conclusions: TLR3 mediates antiretroviral cytotoxic NK cell and CD8+ T cell activity in vivo. Our findings qualify TLR3 as target of immune therapy against retroviral infections.

  • Cross-clade simultaneous HIV drug resistance genotyping for reverse transcriptase, protease, and integrase inhibitor mutations by Illumina MiSeq

  • Background: Viral resistance to antiretroviral therapy threatens our best methods to control and prevent HIV infection. Current drug resistance genotyping methods are costly, optimized for subtype B virus, and primarily detect resistance mutations to protease and reverse transcriptase inhibitors. With the increasing use of integrase inhibitors in first-line therapies, monitoring for integrase inhibitor drug resistance mutations is a priority. We designed a universal primer pair to PCR amplify all major group M HIV-1 viruses for genotyping using Illumina MiSeq to simultaneously detect drug resistance mutations associated with protease, nucleoside reverse transcriptase, non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase, and integrase inhibitors. Results: A universal primer pair targeting the HIV pol gene was used to successfully PCR amplify HIV isolates representing subtypes A, B, C, D, CRF01_AE and CRF02_AG. The universal primers were then tested on 62 samples from a US cohort of injection drug users failing treatment after release from prison. 94% of the samples were successfully genotyped for known drug resistance mutations in the protease, reverse transcriptase and integrase gene products. Control experiments demonstrate that mutations present at ≥ 2% frequency are reliably detected and above the threshold of error for this method. New drug resistance mutations not found in the baseline sample were identified in 54% of the patient samples after treatment failure. 86% of patients with major drug resistance mutations had 1 or more mutations associated with drug resistance to the treatment regimen at the time point of treatment failure. 59% of the emerging mutations were found at frequencies between 2% and 20% of the total sequences generated, below the estimated limit of detection of current FDA-approved genotyping techniques. Primary plasma samples with viral loads as low as 799 copies/ml were successfully genotyped using this method. Conclusions: Here we present an Illumina MiSeq-based HIV drug resistance genotyping assay. Our data suggests that this universal assay works across all major group M HIV-1 subtypes and identifies all drug resistance mutations in the pol gene known to confer resistance to protease, reverse transcriptase and integrase inhibitors. This high-throughput and sensitive assay could significantly improve access to drug resistance genotyping worldwide.

  • Computational modeling suggests dimerization of equine infectious anemia virus Rev is required for RNA binding

  • Background: The lentiviral Rev protein mediates nuclear export of intron-containing viral RNAs that encode structural proteins or serve as the viral genome. Following translation, HIV-1 Rev localizes to the nucleus and binds its cognate sequence, termed the Rev-responsive element (RRE), in incompletely spliced viral RNA. Rev subsequently multimerizes along the viral RNA and associates with the cellular Crm1 export machinery to translocate the RNA-protein complex to the cytoplasm. Equine infectious anemia virus (EIAV) Rev is functionally homologous to HIV-1 Rev, but shares very little sequence similarity and differs in domain organization. EIAV Rev also contains a bipartite RNA binding domain comprising two short arginine-rich motifs (designated ARM-1 and ARM-2) spaced 79 residues apart in the amino acid sequence. To gain insight into the topology of the bipartite RNA binding domain, a computational approach was used to model the tertiary structure of EIAV Rev. Results: The tertiary structure of EIAV Rev was modeled using several protein structure prediction and model quality assessment servers. Two types of structures were predicted: an elongated structure with an extended central alpha helix, and a globular structure with a central bundle of helices. Assessment of models on the basis of biophysical properties indicated they were of average quality. In almost all models, ARM-1 and ARM-2 were spatially separated by ggt;15 Å, suggesting that they do not form a single RNA binding interface on the monomer. A highly conserved canonical coiled-coil motif was identified in the central region of EIAV Rev, suggesting that an RNA binding interface could be formed through dimerization of Rev and juxtaposition of ARM-1 and ARM-2. In support of this, purified Rev protein migrated as a dimer in Blue native gels, and mutation of a residue predicted to form a key coiled-coil contact disrupted dimerization and abrogated RNA binding. In contrast, mutation of residues outside the predicted coiled-coil interface had no effect on dimerization or RNA binding. Conclusions: Our results suggest that EIAV Rev binding to the RRE requires dimerization via a coiled-coil motif to juxtapose two RNA binding motifs, ARM-1 and ARM-2.
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