, 9:104,
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Date: 07 Dec 2012

A bivalent recombinant protein inactivates HIV-1 by targeting the gp41 prehairpin fusion intermediate induced by CD4 D1D2 domains

Abstract

Background

Most currently approved anti-HIV drugs (e.g., reverse transcriptase inhibitors, protease inhibitors and fusion/entry inhibitors) must act inside or on surface of the target cell to inhibit HIV infection, but none can directly inactivate virions away from cells. Although soluble CD4 (sCD4) can inactivate laboratory-adapted HIV-1 strains, it fails to reduce the viral loads in clinical trials because of its low potency against primary isolates and tendency to enhance HIV-1 infection at low concentration. Thus, it is essential to design a better HIV inactivator with improved potency for developing new anti-HIV therapeutics that can actively attack the virus in the circulation before it attaches to and enter into the target cell.

Results

We engineered a bivalent HIV-1 inactivator, designated 2DLT, by linking the D1D2 domain of CD4 to T1144, the next generation HIV fusion inhibitor, with a 35-mer linker. The D1D2 domain in this soluble 2DLT protein could bind to the CD4-binding site and induce the formation of the gp41 prehairpin fusion-intermediate (PFI), but showed no sCD4-mediated enhancement of HIV-1 infection. The T1144 domain in 2DLT then bound to the exposed PFI, resulting in rapid inactivation of HIV-1 virions in the absence of the target cell. Beside, 2DLT could also inhibit fusion of the virus with the target cell if the virion escapes the first attack of 2DLT.

Conclusion

This bivalent molecule can serve as a dual barrier against HIV infection by first inactivating HIV-1 virions away from cells and then blocking HIV-1 entry on the target cell surface, indicating its potential for development as a new class of anti-HIV drug.