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1.  A model of the peptide triazole entry inhibitor binding to HIV-1 gp120 and mechanism of bridging sheet disruption 
Biochemistry  2013;52(13):2245-2261.
Peptide-triazole (PT) entry inhibitors prevent HIV-1 infection by blocking viral gp120 binding to both HIV-1 receptor and coreceptor on target cells. Here, we used all-atom explicit solvent molecular dynamics (MD) to propose a model for the encounter complex of the peptide-triazoles with gp120. Saturation Transfer Difference NMR (STD NMR) and single-site mutagenesis experiments were performed to test the simulation results. We found that docking of the peptide to a conserved patch of residues lining the “F43 pocket” of gp120 in a bridging sheet naïve gp120 conformation of the glycoprotein, led to a stable complex. This pose prevents formation of the bridging sheet minidomain, which is required for receptor/coreceptor binding, providing a mechanistic basis for dual-site antagonism of this class of inhibitors. Burial of the peptide triazole at gp120 inner/outer domain interface significantly contributed to complex stability and rationalizes the significant contribution of hydrophobic triazole groups to peptide potency. Both the simulation model and STD NMR experiments suggest that the I-X-W (where X=(2S, 4S)-4-(4-phenyl-1H-1, 2, 3-triazol-1-yl) pyrrolidine) tripartite hydrophobic motif in the peptide is the major contributor of contacts at the gp120/PT interface. Since the model predicts that the peptide Trp side chain hydrogen bonding with gp120 S375 contributes to stability of the PT/gp120 complex, we tested this prediction through analysis of peptide binding to gp120 mutant S375A. The results showed that a peptide triazole KR21 inhibits S375A with 20-fold less potency versus WT, consistent with predictions of the model. Overall, the PT/gp120 model provides a starting point for both rational design of higher affinity peptide triazoles and development of structure-minimized entry inhibitors that can trap gp120 into an inactive conformation and prevent infection.
PMCID: PMC3800186  PMID: 23470147
2.  Two HIV-1 Variants Resistant to Small Molecule CCR5 Inhibitors Differ in How They Use CCR5 for Entry 
PLoS Pathogens  2009;5(8):e1000548.
HIV-1 variants resistant to small molecule CCR5 inhibitors recognize the inhibitor-CCR5 complex, while also interacting with free CCR5. The most common genetic route to resistance involves sequence changes in the gp120 V3 region, a pathway followed when the primary isolate CC1/85 was cultured with the AD101 inhibitor in vitro, creating the CC101.19 resistant variant. However, the D1/86.16 escape mutant contains no V3 changes but has three substitutions in the gp41 fusion peptide. By using CCR5 point-mutants and gp120-targeting agents, we have investigated how infectious clonal viruses derived from the parental and both resistant isolates interact with CCR5. We conclude that the V3 sequence changes in CC101.19 cl.7 create a virus with an increased dependency on interactions with the CCR5 N-terminus. Elements of the CCR5 binding site associated with the V3 region and the CD4-induced (CD4i) epitope cluster in the gp120 bridging sheet are more exposed on the native Env complex of CC101.19 cl.7, which is sensitive to neutralization via these epitopes. However, D1/86.16 cl.23 does not have an increased dependency on the CCR5 N-terminus, and its CCR5 binding site has not become more exposed. How this virus interacts with the inhibitor-CCR5 complex remains to be understood.
Author Summary
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is the causative agent of AIDS. HIV-1 entry into target cells is triggered by the interaction of the viral envelope glycoproteins with a cell-surface receptor (CD4) and a co-receptor (CCR5), and culminates in fusion of the viral and cell membranes. Small molecule inhibitors that bind to CCR5 are a new class of drug for treating HIV-1-infected people. However, HIV-1 can evolve ways to become resistant to these compounds, by acquiring mutations that alter how its envelope glycoproteins (gp120-gp41) interact with CCR5. In this study, we investigated how two resistant viruses gained the ability to use the inhibitor-bound form of CCR5 through two different mechanisms. In the first virus, four amino acid substitutions in the V3 region of gp120 created an increased dependency on interactions with the CCR5 N-terminus. These changes altered the configuration of gp120, increasing the exposure of antibody epitopes in the V3 region and the CD4i epitope cluster associated with the CCR5 binding site. In contrast, the second virus, which became resistant via three sequence changes in the gp41 subunit, did not become more dependent on the CCR5 N-terminus and remained resistant to neutralization by antibodies against elements of the CCR5 binding site.
PMCID: PMC2718843  PMID: 19680536
3.  Combinatorial optimization of a CD4-mimetic miniprotein and co-crystal structures with HIV-1 gp120 envelope glycoprotein 
Journal of molecular biology  2008;382(2):510-524.
Miniproteins provide a bridge between proteins and small molecules. Here we adapt methods from combinatorial chemistry to optimize CD4M33, a synthetic miniprotein into which we had previously transplanted the HIV-1 gp120 binding surface of the CD4 receptor. Iterative deconvolution of generated libraries produced CD4M47, a derivative of CD4M33 that had been optimized at four positions. Surface-plasmon resonance demonstrated 4-to-6-fold improvement in CD4M47 affinity for gp120 to a level about 3-fold tighter than that of CD4 itself. Assessment of the neutralization properties of CD4M47 against a diverse range of isolates spanning from HIV-1 to SIVcpz showed that CD4M47 retained the extraordinary breadth of the parent CD4M33, but yielded only limited improvements in neutralization potencies. Crystal structures of CD4M47 and a phenylalanine variant ([Phe23]M47) were determined at 2.4 and 2.6 Å resolution, in ternary complexes with HIV-1 gp120 and the 17b antibody. Analysis of these structures revealed a correlation between mimetic affinity for gp120 and overall mimetic-gp120 interactive surface. A correlation was also observed between CD4- and mimetic-induced gp120-structural similarity and CD4- and mimetic-induced gp120 affinity for the CCR5 co-receptor. Despite mimetic substitutions, including a glycine to (D)-proline change, the gp120 conformation induced by CD4M47 was as close or closer to the conformation induced by CD4 as the one induced by the parent CD4M33. Our results demonstrate the ability of combinatorial chemistry to optimize a disulfide-containing miniprotein and of structural biology to decipher the resultant interplay between binding affinity, neutralization breadth, molecular mimicry, and induced affinity for CCR5.
PMCID: PMC2625307  PMID: 18619974
4.  Differential glycosylation of envelope gp120 is associated with differential recognition of HIV-1 by virus-specific antibodies and cell infection 
HIV-1 entry into host cells is mediated by interactions between the virus envelope glycoprotein (gp120/gp41) and host-cell receptors. N-glycans represent approximately 50% of the molecular mass of gp120 and serve as potential antigenic determinants and/or as a shield against immune recognition. We previously reported that N-glycosylation of recombinant gp120 varied, depending on the producer cells, and the glycosylation variability affected gp120 recognition by serum antibodies from persons infected with HIV-1 subtype B. However, the impact of gp120 differential glycosylation on recognition by broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies or by polyclonal antibodies of individuals infected with other HIV-1 subtypes is unknown.
Recombinant multimerizing gp120 antigens were expressed in different cells, HEK 293T, T-cell, rhabdomyosarcoma, hepatocellular carcinoma, and Chinese hamster ovary cell lines. Binding of broadly neutralizing monoclonal antibodies and polyclonal antibodies from sera of subtype A/C HIV-1-infected subjects with individual gp120 glycoforms was assessed by ELISA. In addition, immunodetection was performed using Western and dot blot assays. Recombinant gp120 glycoforms were tested for inhibition of infection of reporter cells by SF162 and YU.2 Env-pseudotyped R5 viruses.
We demonstrated, using ELISA, that gp120 glycans sterically adjacent to the V3 loop only moderately contribute to differential recognition of a short apex motif GPGRA and GPGR by monoclonal antibodies F425 B4e8 and 447-52D, respectively. The binding of antibodies recognizing longer peptide motifs overlapping with GPGR epitope (268 D4, 257 D4, 19b) was significantly altered. Recognition of gp120 glycoforms by monoclonal antibodies specific for other than V3-loop epitopes was significantly affected by cell types used for gp120 expression. These epitopes included CD4-binding site (VRC03, VRC01, b12), discontinuous epitope involving V1/V2 loop with the associated glycans (PG9, PG16), and an epitope including V3-base-, N332 oligomannose-, and surrounding glycans-containing epitope (PGT 121). Moreover, the different gp120 glycoforms variably inhibited HIV-1 infection of reporter cells.
Our data support the hypothesis that the glycosylation machinery of different cells shapes gp120 glycosylation and, consequently, impacts envelope recognition by specific antibodies as well as the interaction of HIV-1 gp120 with cellular receptors. These findings underscore the importance of selection of appropriately glycosylated HIV-1 envelope as a vaccine antigen.
PMCID: PMC4130436  PMID: 25120578
gp120 glycosylation; Glycan-specific antibody; Deglycosylation resistance; Neutralization inhibition
5.  The Binding Thermodynamics of the N-terminal Peptide of the CCR5 Coreceptor to HIV-1 Envelope Glycoprotein gp120† 
Biochemistry  2009;48(4):779-785.
The initial events of HIV-1 cell infection involve the sequential binding of the viral envelope glycoprotein gp120 to the cellular CD4 receptor and the coreceptor, usually CCR5 or CXCR4. Binding to the coreceptor triggers the chain of events that culminates with the entry of the virus into the cell. In this process, the interaction of gp120 with the tyrosine-sulfated N-terminus of CCR5 is critical, however, this interaction has never been characterized at a quantitative or thermodynamic level. Here, we present the first thermodynamic analysis of the interaction of gp120 with the N-terminal peptide of the CCR5 coreceptor. Microcalorimetric titrations demonstrate that measurable binding of S22 peptide, a 22 amino acid tyrosine-sulfated peptide corresponding to the CCR5 N-terminus, requires prior binding of CD4 to gp120. The S22 peptide binds to the gp120/CD4 complex with a binding affinity of 4.5 × 105 M−1 (Kd = 2.2 µM) in an enthalpically and entropically favorable process. An identical peptide lacking the sulfated tyrosine residues is unable to bind the gp120/CD4 complex. These results indicate that the sulfated tyrosines contribute close to −3.5 kcal/mol to the Gibbs energy of binding. Furthermore, the S22 peptide is a competitive inhibitor of the 17b HIV-1 neutralizing antibody, which is known to bind to the CCR5 coreceptor site in gp120. Together, these results point towards compounds containing sulfated aromatic groups as potential inhibitors of viral entry. In analogy to existing inhibitors that bind to the CCR5 coreceptor directly, these compounds will accomplish the same result by binding to the coreceptor site in gp120.
PMCID: PMC2700308  PMID: 19170639
6.  Neutralizing antibodies against the V3 loop of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 gp120 block the CD4-dependent and -independent binding of virus to cells. 
Journal of Virology  1997;71(11):8289-8298.
The CD4 molecule is an essential receptor for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) through high-affinity interactions with the viral external envelope glycoprotein gp120. Previously, neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) specific to the third hypervariable domain of gp120 (the V3 loop) have been thought to block HIV infection without affecting the binding of HIV particles to CD4-expressing human cells. However, here we demonstrate that this conclusion was not correct and was due to the use of soluble gp120 instead of HIV particles. Indeed, neutralizing anti-V3 loop MAbs inhibited completely the binding and entry of HIV particles into CD4+ human cells. In contrast, the binding of virus was only partially inhibited by neutralizing anti-CD4 MAbs against the gp120 binding site in CD4, which, like the anti-V3 loop MAbs, completely inhibited HIV entry and infection. Nonneutralizing control MAbs against either the V3 loop or the N or C terminus of gp120 had no significant effect on HIV binding and entry. HIV-1 particles were also found to bind human and murine cells expressing or not expressing the human CD4 molecule. Interestingly, the binding of HIV to CD4+ murine cells was inhibited by both anti-V3 and anti-CD4 MAbs, whereas the binding to human and murine CD4- cells was affected only by anti-V3 loop MAbs. The effect of anti-V3 loop neutralizing MAbs on the HIV binding to cells appears not to be the direct consequence of gp120 shedding from HIV particles or of a decreased affinity of CD4 or gp120 for binding to its surface counterpart. Taken together, our results suggest the existence of CD4-dependent and -independent binding events involved in the attachment of HIV particles to cells; in both of these events, the V3 loop plays a critical role. As murine cells lack the specific cofactor CXCR4 for HIV-1 entry, other cell surface molecules besides CD4 might be implicated in stable binding of HIV particles to cells.
PMCID: PMC192287  PMID: 9343181
7.  Identification of a CD36-related Thrombospondin 1–binding Domain in HIV-1 Envelope Glycoprotein gp120: Relationship to HIV-1–specific Inhibitory Factors in Human Saliva  
Human and non–human primate salivas retard the infectivity of HIV-1 in vitro and in vivo. Because thrombospondin 1 (TSP1), a high molecular weight trimeric glycoprotein, is concentrated in saliva and can inhibit the infectivity of diverse pathogens in vitro, we sought to determine the role of TSP1 in suppression of HIV infectivity. Sequence analysis revealed a TSP1 recognition motif, previously defined for the CD36 gene family of cell adhesion receptors, in conserved regions flanking the disulfide-linked cysteine residues of the V3 loop of HIV envelope glycoprotein gp120, important for HIV binding to its high affinity cellular receptor CD4. Using solid-phase in vitro binding assays, we demonstrate direct binding of radiolabeled TSP1 to immobilized recombinant gp120. Based on peptide blocking experiments, the TSP1–gp120 interaction involves CSVTCG sequences in the type 1 properdin-like repeats of TSP1, the known binding site for CD36. TSP1 and fusion proteins derived from CD36-related TSP1-binding domains were able to compete with radiolabeled soluble CD4 binding to immobilized gp120. In parallel, purified TSP1 inhibited HIV-1 infection of peripheral blood mononuclear cells and transformed T and promonocytic cell lines. Levels of TSP1 required for both viral aggregation and direct blockade of HIV-1 infection were physiologic, and affinity depletion of salivary TSP1 abrogated >70% of the inhibitory effect of whole saliva on HIV infectivity. Characterization of TSP1–gp120 binding specificity suggests a mechanism for direct blockade of HIV infectivity that might be exploited to retard HIV transmission that occurs via mucosal routes.
PMCID: PMC2199189  PMID: 9419208
8.  HIV-1 Fusion Is Blocked through Binding of GB Virus C E2D Peptides to the HIV-1 gp41 Disulfide Loop 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54452.
A strategy for antiviral drug discovery is the elucidation and imitation of viral interference mechanisms. HIV-1 patients benefit from a coinfection with GB Virus C (GBV-C), since HIV-positive individuals with long-term GBV-C viraemia show better survival rates than HIV-1 patients without persisting GBV-C. A direct influence of GBV-C on HIV-1 replication has been shown in coinfection experiments. GBV-C is a human non-pathogenic member of the flaviviridae family that can replicate in T and B cells. Therefore, GBV-C shares partly the same ecological niche with HIV-1. In earlier work we have demonstrated that recombinant glycoprotein E2 of GBV-C and peptides derived from the E2 N-terminus interfere with HIV entry. In this study we investigated the underlying mechanism. Performing a virus-cell fusion assay and temperature-arrested HIV-infection kinetics, we provide evidence that the HIV-inhibitory E2 peptides interfere with late HIV-1 entry steps after the engagement of gp120 with CD4 receptor and coreceptor. Binding and competition experiments revealed that the N-terminal E2 peptides bind to the disulfide loop region of HIV-1 transmembrane protein gp41. In conjunction with computational analyses, we identified sequence similarities between the N-termini of GBV-C E2 and the HIV-1 glycoprotein gp120. This similarity appears to enable the GBV-C E2 N-terminus to interact with the HIV-1 gp41 disulfide loop, a crucial domain involved in the gp120-gp41 interface. Furthermore, the results of the present study provide initial proof of concept that peptides targeted to the gp41 disulfide loop are able to inhibit HIV fusion and should inspire the development of this new class of HIV-1 entry inhibitors.
PMCID: PMC3551756  PMID: 23349893
9.  Design and Characterization of a Peptide Mimotope of the HIV-1 gp120 Bridging Sheet 
The Bridging Sheet domain of HIV-1 gp120 is highly conserved among the HIV-1 strains and allows HIV-1 binding to host cells via the HIV-1 coreceptors. Further, the bridging sheet domain is a major target to neutralize HIV-1 infection. We rationally designed four linear peptide epitopes that mimic the three-dimensional structure of bridging sheet by using molecular modeling. Chemically synthesized peptides BS3 and BS4 showed a fair degree of antigenicity when tested in ELISA with IgG purified from HIV+ broadly neutralizing sera while the production of synthetic peptides BS1 and BS2 failed due to their high degree of hydrophobicity. To overcome this limitation, we linked all four BS peptides to the COOH-terminus of GST protein to test both their antigenicity and immunogenicity. Only the BS1 peptide showed good antigenicity; however, no envelope specific antibodies were elicited upon mice immunization. Therefore we performed further analyses by linking BS1 peptide to the NH2-terminus of the E2 scaffold from the Geobacillus Stearothermophylus PDH complex. The E2-BS1 fusion peptide showed good antigenic results, however only one immunized rabbit elicited good antibody titers towards both the monomeric and oligomeric viral envelope glycoprotein (Env). In addition, moderate neutralizing antibodies response was elicited against two HIV-1 clade B and one clade C primary isolates. These preliminary data validate the peptide mimotope approach as a promising tool to obtain an effective HIV-1 vaccine.
PMCID: PMC3382813  PMID: 22754323
HIV-1 vaccine; bridging sheet; mimotope
10.  Enhanced Dynamics of HIV gp120 Glycoprotein by Small Molecule Binding 
Biochemistry  2011;50(19):4173-4183.
HIV cell entry and infection are driven by binding events to the CD4 and Chemokine receptors with associated conformational change of the viral glycoprotein, gp120. Scyllatoxin mini-protein CD4 mimetics and a small molecule inhibitor of CD4 binding, NBD-556, also effectively induce gp120 conformational change. In this study we examine the fluctuation profile of gp120 in context of CD4, a mini-protein mimetic and NBD-556 with the aim of understanding the effect of ligand binding on gp120 conformational dynamics. Analysis of Molecular Dynamics trajectories indicate that NBD-556 binding in the Phe 43 cavity enhances the overall mobility of gp120 especially in the outer-domain in comparison to CD4 or mini-protein bound complex. Interactions with the more flexible bridging sheet strengthen upon NBD-556 binding and may contribute to gp120 restructuring. The enhanced mobility of D368, E370 and I371 with NBD-556 bound in the Phe 43 cavity suggests that interactions with α3-helix in the outer-domain are not optimal, providing further insights into gp120-small molecule interactions that may impact small molecule designs.
PMCID: PMC3121314  PMID: 21488663
HIV; gp120; Cd4 binding; NBD-566; Chemokine Receptor; Molecular Dynamics; small molecule inhibitor; protein-ligand interactions; HIV entry inhibitor
11.  Role of N-linked glycans in the interaction between the envelope glycoprotein of human immunodeficiency virus and its CD4 cellular receptor. Structural enzymatic analysis 
gp120 and CD4 are two glycoproteins that are considered to interact together to allow the binding of HIV to CD4+ cells. We have utilized enzymatic digestion by endoglycosidases in order to analyze N-linked carbohydrate chains of these proteins and their possible role in the interaction of gp120 or gp160 with CD4. SDS denaturation was not necessary to obtain optimal deglycosylation of either molecule, but deglycosylation of CD4, nonetheless, depended on the presence of 1% Triton X-100. Endo H and Endo F that cleave high mannose type and biantennary glycans diminish the molecular mass of the glycoproteins from 120 or 160 Kd to 90 or 130 Kd, respectively; but these enzymes had no action on CD4 glycans. Endo F N-glycanase mixture, which acts on all glycan species, including triantennary chains, led to complete deglycosylation of gp120/160 and of CD4. Therefore, probably half of the glycan moieties of gp120/160 are composed of high mannose and biantennary chains, the other half being triantennary species. The carbohydrate structures of CD4 seems to be triantennary chains. To analyze the binding of gp120/160 to CD4, we used a molecular assay in which an mAb (110-4) coupled to Sepharose CL4B allowed the attachment of soluble gp120/160 to the beads; 125I-sCD4 was then added to measure the binding of CD4 to different amounts of gp120/160. Binding to gp160 was not modified when using completely deglycosylated 125I-sCD4, while deglycosylation of gp120 or of gp160 resulted in the decrease of the binding to native CD4 by two- and fivefold, respectively. Native and deglycosylated gp120/160 bound to CD4+ cells with comparable affinities. In addition, deglycosylated gp120 displaced 125I-gp160 binding to CD4+ cells and inhibited fusion of fresh Molt-T4 cells with CEM HIV1- or HIV2-infected cells to the same extent. Taken together, these results indicate that carbohydrates of CD4 and of gp120/160 do not play a significant role in the in vitro interaction between these two molecules.
PMCID: PMC2189259  PMID: 2538547
12.  Selective Interactions of Polyanions with Basic Surfaces on Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 gp120 
Journal of Virology  2000;74(4):1948-1960.
It is well established that the gp120 V3 loop of T-cell-line-adapted human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) binds both cell-associated and soluble polyanions. Virus infectivity is increased by interactions between HIV-1 and heparan sulfate proteoglycans on some cell types, and soluble polyanions such as heparin and dextran sulfate neutralize HIV-1 in vitro. However, the analysis of gp120-polyanion interactions has been limited to T-cell-line-adapted, CXCR4-using virus and virus-derived gp120, and the polyanion binding ability of gp120 regions other than the V3 loop has not been addressed. Here we demonstrate by monoclonal-antibody inhibition, labeled heparin binding, and surface plasmon resonance studies that a second site, most probably corresponding to the newly defined, highly conserved coreceptor binding region on gp120, forms part of the polyanion binding surface. Consistent with the binding of polyanions to the coreceptor binding surface, dextran sulfate interfered with the gp120-CXCR4 association while having no detectable effect on the gp120-CD4 interaction. The interaction between polyanions and X4 or R5X4 gp120 was readily detectable, whereas weak or undetectable binding was observed with R5 gp120. Analysis of mutated forms of X4 gp120 demonstrated that the V3 loop is the major determinant for polyanion binding whereas other regions, including the V1/V2 loop structure and the NH2 and COOH termini, exert a more subtle influence. A molecular model of the electrostatic potential of the conserved coreceptor binding region confirmed that it is basic but that the overall charge on this surface is dominated by the V3 loop. These results demonstrate a selective interaction of gp120 with polyanions and suggest that the conserved coreceptor binding surface may present a novel and conserved target for therapeutic intervention.
PMCID: PMC111673  PMID: 10644368
13.  Mimicking Protein–Protein Interactions through Peptide–Peptide Interactions: HIV-1 gp120 and CXCR4 
We have recently designed a soluble synthetic peptide that functionally mimics the HIV-1 coreceptor CXCR4, which is a chemokine receptor that belongs to the family of seven-transmembrane GPCRs. This CXCR4 mimetic peptide, termed CX4-M1, presents the three extracellular loops (ECLs) of the receptor. In binding assays involving recombinant proteins, as well as in cellular infection assays, CX4-M1 was found to selectively recognize gp120 from HIV-1 strains that use CXCR4 for cell entry (X4 tropic HIV-1). Furthermore, anti-HIV-1 antibodies modulate this interaction in a molecular mechanism related to that of their impact on the gp120–CXCR4 interaction. We could now show that the selectivity of CX4-M1 pertains not only to gp120 from X4 tropic HIV-1, but also to synthetic peptides presenting the V3 loops of these gp120 proteins. The V3 loop is thought to be an essential part of the coreceptor binding site of gp120 that contacts the second ECL of the coreceptor. We were able to experimentally confirm this notion in binding assays using substitution analogs of CX4-M1 and the V3 loop peptides, respectively, as well as in cellular infection assays. These results indicate that interactions of the HIV-1 Env with coreceptors can be mimicked by synthetic peptides, which may be useful to explore these interactions at the molecular level in more detail.
PMCID: PMC3760305  PMID: 24027570
peptide; protein–protein interaction; HIV-1; gp120; coreceptor; CXCR4; V3 loop
14.  Conformational and Structural Features of HIV-1 gp120 Underlying Dual Receptor Antagonism by the Cross-Reactive Neutralizing Antibody, m18† 
Biochemistry  2011;50(14):2756-2768.
We investigated the interaction between the cross-reactive HIV-1 neutralizing human monoclonal antibody m18 with HIV-1YU-2 gp120 in order to understand how this antibody inhibits viral entry into cells. M18 binds to gp120 with high affinity (KD ≈ 5 nM) as measured by surface plasmon resonance (SPR) and isothermal titration calorimetry (ITC). SPR analysis further showed that m18 inhibits gp120 interactions with both soluble CD4 as well as CD4-induced antibodies that have epitopes overlapping the coreceptor binding site. This dual receptor site antagonism, which occurs with equal potency for both inhibition effects, argues that m18 is not functioning as a mimic of CD4, in spite of the presence of a putative CD4-like loop formed by HCDR3 in the antibody. Consistent with this view, m18 was found to interact with gp120 in the presence of saturating concentrations of a CD4-mimicking small molecule gp120 inhibitor, suggesting that m18 does not require unoccupied CD4 Phe43 binding cavity residues of gp120. Thermodynamic analysis of the m18-gp120 interaction suggests that m18 stabilizes a conformation of gp120 that is unique from and less structured than the CD4-stabilized conformation. Conformational mutants of gp120 were studied for their impact on m18 interaction. Mutations known to disrupt the coreceptor binding region and lead to complete suppression of 17b binding had minimal effects on m18 binding. This argues that energetically important epitopes for m18 binding lie outside the disrupted bridging sheet region used for 17b and coreceptor binding. In contrast, mutations in the CD4 region strongly affected m18 binding. Overall, the results obtained in this work argue that m18, rather than mimicking CD4 directly, suppresses both receptor binding site functions of HIV-1 gp120 by stabilizing a non-productive conformation of the envelope protein. These results can be related to prior findings for the importance of conformational entrapment as a common mode of action for neutralizing CD4bs antibodies, with differences mainly in epitope utilization and extent of gp120 structuring.
PMCID: PMC3088361  PMID: 21351734
15.  Spontaneous Rearrangement of the β20/β21 Strands in Simulations of Unliganded HIV-1 Glycoprotein, gp120 
Biochemistry  2012;51(39):7783-7793.
Binding of the viral spike drives cell entry and infection by HIV-1 to the cellular CD4 and chemokine receptors with associated conformational change of the viral glycoprotein envelope, gp120. Crystal structures of the CD4-gp120-antibody ternary complex reveal a large internal gp120 cavity formed by three domains, the inner domain, outer domain and bridging sheet domain, and is capped by CD4 residue Phe43. Several structures of gp120 envelope in complex with various antibodies indicated that the bridging sheet adopts varied conformations. Here, we examine bridging sheet dynamics using a crystal structure of gp120 bound to the F105 antibody exhibiting an open bridging sheet conformation and with an added V3 loop. The two strands of the bridging sheet β2/β3 and β20/β21 are dissociated from each other and are directed away from the inner and outer domains. Analysis of Molecular Dynamics (MD) trajectories indicates that the β2/β3 and β20/β21 strands rapidly rearrange to interact with the V3 loop and the inner and outer domains, respectively. Residues N425 on β20 leads to the conformational rearrangement of the β20/β21 strands by interacting with W112 on the inner domain and F382 on the outer domain. An accompanying shift is observed in the inner domain as helix α1 exhibits a loss in helicity and pivots away from helix α5. The two simulations provide a framework for understanding the conformational diversity of the bridging sheet and the propensity of the β20/β21 strand to refold between the inner and outer domains of gp120, in the absence of a bound ligand.
PMCID: PMC3464976  PMID: 22963284
HIV; gp120; CD4 binding; Conformational Change; Bridging Sheet; CD4-Antibody binding; Chemokine Receptor; Molecular Dynamics; protein-ligand interactions; HIV entry inhibitor
16.  A Double-Mimetic Peptide Efficiently Neutralizes HIV-1 by Bridging the CD4- and Coreceptor-Binding Sites of gp120 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(6):3353-3358.
The HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein binds cooperatively to its cellular receptor CD4 and a coreceptor, principally CXCR4 or CCR5. We have previously improved a natural amino-acid form of a scorpion toxin-derived CD4-mimetic peptide and in parallel generated sulfopeptide mimetics of the CCR5 amino terminus. Here we show that some fusions of these CCR5- and CD4-mimetic peptides, expressed as immunoadhesins, neutralize HIV-1 more efficiently than CD4-Fc or equimolar mixtures of immunoadhesin forms of each peptide. Specifically, double-mimetic peptides with linkers of 11 amino acids or greater, and with the CCR5-mimetic component preceding the CD4-mimetic component, were more efficient than constructs with shorter linkers or in a reverse orientation. The potency of these constructs derives from (i) their ability to simultaneously and cooperatively bind the CD4- and CCR5-binding sites of a single gp120 monomer of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein trimer and (ii) the ability of the CCR5-mimetic component to prevent the CD4-mimetic peptide from promoting infection when cellular CD4 is limiting. Thus, there is a significant advantage to simultaneously targeting both conserved regions of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein.
IMPORTANCE This report describes a novel class of peptides that potently inhibit HIV-1 entry. These peptides simultaneously target the receptor- and coreceptor-binding sites of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein gp120. Peptides of this class overcome key limitations of inhibitors that target only one gp120 binding region and illustrate the utility of binding the sulfotyrosine-binding pockets of gp120.
PMCID: PMC3957931  PMID: 24390333
17.  Epitope Mapping of M36, a Human Antibody Domain with Potent and Broad HIV-1 Inhibitory Activity 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66638.
M36 is the first member of a novel class of potent HIV-1 entry inhibitors based on human engineered antibody domains (eAds). It exhibits broad inhibitory activity suggesting that its CD4-induced epitope is highly conserved. Here, we describe fine mapping of its epitope by using several approaches. First, a panel of mimotopes was affinity-selected from a random peptide library and potential m36-binding residues were computationally predicted. Second, homology modeling of m36 and molecular docking of m36 onto gp120 revealed potentially important residues in gp120-m36 interactions. Third, the predicted contact residues were verified by site-directed mutagenesis. Taken together, m36 epitope comprising three discontinuous sites including six key gp120 residues (Site C1: Thr123 and Pro124; Site C3: Glu370 and Ile371; Site C4: Met426 and Trp427) were identified. In the 3D structure of gp120, the sites C1 and C4 are located in the bridging sheet and the site C3 is within the β15-α3 excursion, which play essential roles for the receptor- and coreceptor-binding and are major targets of neutralizing antibodies. Based on these results we propose a precise localization of the m36 epitope and suggest a mechanism of its broad inhibitory activity which could help in the development of novel HIV-1 therapeutics based on eAds.
PMCID: PMC3679054  PMID: 23776690
18.  Allosteric induction of the CD4-bound conformation of HIV-1 Gp120 
Retrovirology  2013;10:147.
HIV-1 infection of target cells is mediated via the binding of the viral envelope protein, gp120, to the cell surface receptor CD4. This interaction leads to conformational rearrangements in gp120 forming or revealing CD4 induced (CD4i) epitopes which are critical for the subsequent recognition of the co-receptor required for viral entry. The CD4-bound state of gp120 has been considered a potential immunogen for HIV-1 vaccine development. Here we report on an alternative means to induce gp120 into the CD4i conformation.
Combinatorial phage display peptide libraries were screened against HIV-1 gp120 and short (14aa) peptides were selected that bind the viral envelope and allosterically induce the CD4i conformation. The lead peptide was subsequently systematically optimized for higher affinity as well as more efficient inductive activity. The peptide:gp120 complex was scrutinized with a panel of neutralizing anti-gp120 monoclonal antibodies and CD4 itself, illustrating that peptide binding does not interfere with or obscure the CD4 binding site.
Two surfaces of gp120 are considered targets for the development of cross neutralizing antibodies against HIV-1; the CD4 binding site and CD4i epitopes. By implementing novel peptides that allosterically induce the CD4i epitopes we have generated a viral envelope that presents both of these surfaces simultaneously.
PMCID: PMC4235218  PMID: 24304511
HIV-1; Vaccine; gp120; CD4i; Phage display; Peptide
19.  Structural Determinants for Affinity Enhancement of a Dual Antagonist Peptide Entry Inhibitor of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type-1 
Journal of medicinal chemistry  2008;51(9):2638-2647.
Structure-activity correlations were investigated for substituted peptide conjugates that function as dual receptor site antagonists of HIV-1 gp120. A series of peptide conjugates were constructed via click reaction of both aryl and alkyl acetylenes with an internally-incorporated azidoproline 6 derived from the parent peptide 1 (12p1, RINNIPWSEAMM). Compared to 1, many of these conjugates were found to exhibit several orders of magnitude increase in both affinity for HIV-1 gp120 and inhibition potencies at both the CD4 and co-receptor binding sites of gp120. We sought to determine structural factors in the added triazole grouping responsible for the increased binding affinity and antiviral activity of the dual inhibitor conjugates. We measured peptide conjugate potencies in both kinetic and cell infection assays. High affinity was sterically specific, being exhibited by the cis but not the trans triazole. The results demonstrate that aromatic, hydrophobic and steric features in the residue 6 side-chain are important for increased affinity and inhibition. Optimizing these features provides a basis for developing gp120 dual inhibitors into peptidomimetic and increasingly smaller molecular weight entry antagonist leads.
PMCID: PMC2921370  PMID: 18402432
20.  Inhibition of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 gp120 Presentation to CD4 T Cells by Antibodies Specific for the CD4 Binding Domain of gp120 
Journal of Virology  2001;75(22):10950-10957.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-specific CD4 T-cell responses, particularly to the envelope glycoproteins of the virus, are weak or absent in most HIV-infected patients. Although these poor responses can be attributed simply to the destruction of the specific CD4 T cells by the virus, other factors also appear to contribute to the suppression of these virus-specific responses. We previously showed that human monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) specific for the CD4 binding domain of gp120 (gp120CD4BD), when complexed with gp120, inhibited the proliferative responses of gp120-specific CD4 T-cells. MAbs to other gp120 epitopes did not exhibit this activity. The present study investigated the inhibitory mechanisms of the anti-gp120CD4BD MAbs. The anti-gp120CD4BD MAbs complexed with gp120 suppressed gamma interferon production as well as proliferation of gp120-specific CD4 T cells. Notably, the T-cell responses to gp120 were inhibited only when the MAbs were added to antigen-presenting cells (APCs) during antigen pulse; the addition of the MAbs after pulsing caused no inhibition. However, the anti-gp120CD4BD MAbs by themselves, or as MAb/gp120 complexes, did not affect the presentation of gp120-derived peptides by the APCs to T cells. These MAb/gp120 complexes also did not inhibit the ability of APCs to process and present unrelated antigens. To test whether the suppressive effect of anti-gp120CD4BD antibodies is caused by the antibodies' ability to block gp120-CD4 interaction, APCs were treated during antigen pulse with anti-CD4 MAbs. These treated APCs remained capable of presenting gp120 to the T cells. These results suggest that anti-gp120CD4BD Abs inhibit gp120 presentation by altering the uptake and/or processing of gp120 by the APCs but their inhibitory activity is not due to blocking of gp120 attachment to CD4 on the surface of APCs.
PMCID: PMC114675  PMID: 11602735
21.  Ultrasensitive Analysis of Binding Affinity of HIV Receptor and Neutralizing Antibody Using Solution-Phase Electrochemiluminescence Assay 
Binding of a few ligand molecules with its receptors on cell surface can initiate cellular signaling transduction pathways, and trigger viral infection of host cells. HIV-1 infects host T-cells by binding its viral envelope protein (gp120) with its receptor (a glycoprotein, CD4) on T cells. Primary strategies to prevent and treat HIV infection is to develop therapies (e.g., neutralizing antibodies) that can block specific binding of CD4 with gp120. The infection often leads to the lower counts of CD4 cells, which makes it an effective biomarker to monitor the AIDS progression and treatment. Despite research over decades, quantitative assays for effective measurements of binding affinities of protein-protein (ligand-receptor, antigen-antibody) interactions remains highly sought. Solid-phase electrochemiluminescence (ECL) immunoassay has been commonly used to capture analytes from the solution for analysis, which involves immobilization of antibody on solid surfaces (micron-sized beads), but it cannot quantitatively measure binding affinities of molecular interactions. In this study, we have developed solution-phase ECL assay with a wide dynamic range (0–2 nM) and high sensitivity and specificity for quantitative analysis of CD4 at femtomolar level and their binding affinity with gp120 and monoclonal antibodies (MABs). We found that binding affinities of CD4 with gp120 and MAB (Q4120) are 9.5×108 and 1.2×109 M−1, respectively. The results also show that MAB (Q4120) of CD4 can completely block the binding of gp120 with CD4, while MAB (17b) of gp120 can only partially block their interaction. This study demonstrates that the solution-phase ECL assay can be used for ultrasensitive and quantitative analysis of binding affinities of protein-protein interactions in solution for better understating of protein functions and identification of effective therapies to block their interactions.
PMCID: PMC3616341  PMID: 23565071
Electrochemiluminescence; binding constant; binding affinity; HIV receptors; CD4; gp120-CD4; ligand-receptor interaction; neutralizing antibody; protein-protein interaction; ultrasensitive analysis
22.  Structural mimicry between SLA/LP and Rickettsia surface antigens as a driver of autoimmune hepatitis: insights from an in silico study 
Autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) is a chronic, progressive liver disease, characterized by continuing hepatocellular inflammation and necrosis. A subgroup of AIH patients presents specific autoantibodies to soluble liver antigen/liver-pancreas (SLA/LP) protein, which is regarded as a highly specific diagnostic marker. Autoantigenic SLA/LP peptides are targeted by CD4+ T cells, and restricted by the allele HLA-DRB1*03:01, which confers disease susceptibility in Europeans and Americans. A positively charged residue at position 71 has been indicated as critical for AIH susceptibility in all of the HLA alleles identified to date. Though the exact molecular mechanisms underlying pathogenesis of AIH are not clear, molecular mimicry between SLA/LP and viral/bacterial antigens has been invoked.
The immunodominant region of SLA/LP was used as query in databank searches to identify statistically significant similarities with viral/bacterial peptides. Homology modeling and docking was used to investigate the potential interaction of HLA-DRB1*03:01 with the identified peptides. By molecular mechanics means, the interactions and energy of binding at the HLA binding site was also scrutinized.
A statistically significant structural similarity between the immunodominant regions of SLA/LP and a region of the surface antigen PS 120 from Rickettsia spp. has been detected. The interaction of the SLA/LP autoepitope and the corresponding Rickettsia sequence with the allele HLA-DRB1*03:01 has been simulated. The obtained results predict for both peptides a similar binding mode and affinity to HLA-DRB1*03:01. A “hot spot” of interaction between HLA-DRB1*03:01 and PS 120 is located at the P4 binding pocket, and is represented by a salt bridge involving Lys at position 71 of the HLA protein, and Glu 795 of PS120 peptide.
These findings strongly support the notion that a molecular mimicry mechanism can trigger AIH onset. CD4+ T cells recognizing peptides of SLA/LP could indeed cross-react with foreign Rickettsia spp. antigens. Finally, the same analysis suggests a molecular explanation for the importance of position 71 in conferring the susceptibility of the allele HLA-DRB1*03:01 to AIH. The lack of a positive charge at such position could prevent HLA alleles from binding the foreign peptides and triggering the molecular mimicry event.
PMCID: PMC3636016  PMID: 23575112
Autoimmune hepatitis; Molecular mimicry; Rickettsia; SLA/LP; Peptide conformation; PLP-dependent enzymes; HLA-DRB1*03:01
23.  Heavy Chain-Only IgG2b Llama Antibody Effects Near-Pan HIV-1 Neutralization by Recognizing a CD4-Induced Epitope That Includes Elements of Coreceptor- and CD4-Binding Sites 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(18):10173-10181.
The conserved HIV-1 site of coreceptor binding is protected from antibody-directed neutralization by conformational and steric restrictions. While inaccessible to most human antibodies, the coreceptor site has been shown to be accessed by antibody fragments. In this study, we used X-ray crystallography, surface plasmon resonance, and pseudovirus neutralization to characterize the gp120-envelope glycoprotein recognition and HIV-1 neutralization of a heavy chain-only llama antibody, named JM4. We describe full-length IgG2b and IgG3 versions of JM4 that target the coreceptor-binding site and potently neutralize over 95% of circulating HIV-1 isolates. Contrary to established trends that show improved access to the coreceptor-binding region by smaller antibody fragments, the single-domain (VHH) version of JM4 neutralized less well than the full-length IgG2b version of JM4. The crystal structure at 2.1-Å resolution of VHH JM4 bound to HIV-1 YU2 gp120 stabilized in the CD4-bound state by the CD4-mimetic miniprotein, M48U1, revealed a JM4 epitope that combined regions of coreceptor recognition (including the gp120 bridging sheet, V3 loop, and β19 strand) with gp120 structural elements involved in recognition of CD4 such as the CD4-binding loop. The structure of JM4 with gp120 thus defines a novel CD4-induced site of vulnerability involving elements of both coreceptor- and CD4-binding sites. The potently neutralizing JM4 IgG2b antibody that targets this newly defined site of vulnerability adds to the expanding repertoire of broadly neutralizing antibodies that effectively neutralize HIV-1 and thereby potentially provides a new template for vaccine development and target for HIV-1 therapy.
PMCID: PMC3753989  PMID: 23843638
24.  A Novel Synthetic Bivalent Ligand to Probe Chemokine Receptor CXCR4 Dimerization and Inhibit HIV-1 Entry 
Biochemistry  2012;51(36):7078-7086.
The chemokine receptor CXCR4 is one of two principal coreceptors for HIV-1 entry into target cells. CXCR4 is known to form homodimers. We previously demonstrated that the amino (N)-terminus of viral macrophage protein (vMIP)-II is the major determinant for CXCR4 recognition, and that V1 peptide derived from the N-terminus of vMIP-II (1-21 residues) showed significant CXCR4 binding. Interestingly, an all-D-amino acid analog of V1 peptide, DV1 peptide, displayed even higher binding affinity and strong antiviral activity in inhibiting the replication of CXCR4-dependent HIV-1 strains. In the present study, we synthetically linked two DV1 peptides with the formation of a disulfide bond between the two cysteine residues present in the peptide sequence to generate a dimeric molecule potentially capable of interacting with two CXCR4 receptors. DV1 dimer showed enhanced binding affinity and antiviral activity compared with DV1 monomer. Ligand binding site mapping experiments showed that DV1 dimer overlaps with HIV-1 gp120 on CXCR4 binding sites, including several transmembrane (TM) residues located close to the extracellular side and the N-terminus of CXCR4. This finding was supported by the molecular modeling of CXCR4 dimer–DV1 dimer interaction based on the crystal structure of CXCR4, which showed that DV1 dimer is capable of interacting with the CXCR4 dimeric structure by allowing the N-terminus of each DV1 monomer to reach into the binding pocket of CXCR4 monomer. The development of this bivalent ligand provides a tool to further probe the functions of CXCR4 dimerization and to study CXCR4 heterodimerization with other receptors.
PMCID: PMC3476724  PMID: 22897429
25.  Strain specificity and binding affinity requirements of neutralizing monoclonal antibodies to the C4 domain of gp120 from human immunodeficiency virus type 1. 
Journal of Virology  1993;67(10):6179-6191.
The binding properties of seven CD4-blocking monoclonal antibodies raised against recombinant gp120 of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 strain MN (HIV-1MN) and two CD4-blocking monoclonal antibodies to recombinant envelope glycoproteins gp120 and gp160 of substrain IIIB of HIVLAI were analyzed. With a panel of recombinant gp120s from seven diverse HIV-1 isolates, eight of the nine antibodies were found to be strain specific and one was broadly cross-reactive. Epitope mapping revealed that all nine antibodies bound to epitopes located in the fourth conserved domain (C4) of gp120. Within this region, three distinct epitopes could be identified: two were polymorphic between HIV-1 strains, and one was highly conserved. Studies with synthetic peptides demonstrated that the conserved epitope, recognized by antibody 13H8, was located between residues 431 and 439. Site-directed mutagenesis of gp120 demonstrated that residue 429 and/or 432 was critical for the binding of the seven antibodies to gp120 from HIV-1MN. Similarly, residues 423 and 429 were essential for the binding of monoclonal antibody 5C2 raised against gp120 from HIV-1IIIB. The amino acids located at positions 423 and 429 were found to vary between strains of HIV-1 as well as between molecular clones derived from the MN and LAI isolates of HIV-1. Polymorphism at these positions prevented the binding of virus-neutralizing monoclonal antibodies and raised the possibility that HIV-1 neutralization serotypes may be defined on the basis of C4 domain sequences. Analysis of the binding characteristics of the CD4-blocking antibodies demonstrated that their virus-neutralizing activity was directly proportional to their gp120-binding affinity. These studies account for the strain specificity of antibodies to the C4 domain of gp120 and demonstrate for the first time that antibodies to this region can be as effective as those directed to the principal neutralizing determinant (V3 domain) in neutralizing HIV-1 infectivity.
PMCID: PMC238040  PMID: 7690420

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