Since the emergence of drug-resistant mutants has limited the efficacy of non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs), it is essential to develop new antivirals with better drug-resistance and pharmacokinetic profiles. Here we designed and synthesized a series of 1-[(2-benzyloxyl/alkoxyl)methyl]-5-halo-6-aryluracils, the HEPT analogues, and evaluated their biological activity using Nevirapine and 18 (TNK-651) as reference compounds. Most of these compounds, especially 6b, 7b, 9b, 11b and 7c, exhibited highly potent anti-HIV-1 activity against both wild-type and NNRTI-resistant HIV-1 strains. The compound 7b, that had the highest selectivity index (SI = 38,215), is more potent than Nevirapine and 18. These results suggest that introduction of halogen at the C-5 position may contribute to the effectiveness of these compounds against RTI-resistant variants. In addition, m-substituents on the C-6 aromatic moiety could significantly enhance activity against NNRTI-resistant HIV-1 strains. These compounds can be further developed as next-generation NNRTIs with improved antiviral efficacy and drug-resistance profile.
HIV-1; Non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs); Drug-resistance
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.
The highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 viruses, especially the laboratory-generated H5N1 mutants, have demonstrated the potential to cross the species barrier and infect mammals and humans. Consequently, the design of an effective and safe anti-H5N1 vaccine is essential. We previously demonstrated that the full-length hemagglutinin 1 (HA1) could induce significant neutralizing antibody response and protection. Here, we intended to identify the critical neutralizing domain (CND) in an optimal conformation that can elicit strong cross-neutralizing antibodies and protection against divergent H5N1 strains. We thus constructed six recombinant proteins covering different regions of HA1 of A/Anhui/1/2005(H5N1), each of which was fused with foldon (Fd) and Fc of human IgG. We found that the critical fragment fused with Fd/Fc (HA-13–263-Fdc, H5 numbering) that could elicit the strongest neutralizing antibody response is located in the N-terminal region of HA1 (residues 13–263), which covers the receptor-binding domain (RBD, residues 112–263). We then constructed three additional recombinants fused with Fd plus His tag (HA-13–263-Fd-His), Fc only (HA-13–263-Fc), and His tag only (HA-13–263-His), respectively. We found that the HA-13–263-Fdc, which formed an oligomeric conformation, induced the strongest neutralizing antibody response and cross-protection against challenges of two tested H5N1 virus strains covering clade 1: A/VietNam/1194/2004 (VN/1194) or clade 2.3.4: A/Shenzhen/406H/06 (SZ/406H), while HA-13–263-Fc dimer and HA-13–263-Fd-His trimer elicited higher neutralizing antibody response and protection than HA-13–263-His monomer. These results suggest that the oligomeric form of the CND containing the RBD can be further developed as an effective and safe vaccine for cross-protection against divergent strains of H5N1 viruses.
HIV-1 subtype B’ isolates have been predominantly circulating in China. Their intra- and inter-subtype neutralization sensitivity to autologous and heterologous plasmas has not been well studied.
Twelve HIV-1 B’ clinical isolates obtained from patients were tested for their intra- and inter-subtype neutralization sensitivity to the neutralization antibodies in the plasmas from patients infected by HIV-1 B’ and CRF07_BC subtypes, respectively. We found that the plasmas from the HIV-1 B’-infected patients could potently neutralize heterologous viruses of subtype B’ with mean ID50 titer (1/x) of about 67, but they were not effective in neutralizing autologous viruses of subtype B’ with mean ID50 titer (1/x) of about 8. The plasmas from HIV-1 CRF07_BC-infected patients exhibited weak inter-subtype neutralization activity against subtype B’ viruses with ID50 titer (1/x) is about 22. The neutralization sensitivity of HIV-1 B’ isolates was inversely correlated with the neutralizing activity of plasmas from HIV-1 B’-infected patients (Spearman’s r = −0.657, P = 0.020), and with the number of potential N-glycosylation site (PNGS) in V1-V5 region (Spearman’s r = −0.493, P = 0.034), but positively correlated with the viral load (Spearman’s r = 0.629, P = 0.028). It had no correlation with the length of V1-V5 regions or the CD4+ T cell count. Virus AH259V has low intra-subtype neutralization sensitivity, it can be neutralized by 17b (IC50: 10μg/ml) and 447-52D (IC50: 1.6μg/ml), and the neutralizing antibodies (nAbs) in plasma AH259P are effective in neutralizing infection by the primary HIV-1 isolates with different subtypes with ID50 titers (1/x) in the range of 32–396.
These findings suggest that the HIV-1 subtype B’ viruses may mutate under the immune pressure, thus becoming resistant to the autologous nAbs, possibly by changing the number of PNGS in the V1-V5 region of the viral gp120. Some of primary HIV-1 isolates are able to induce both intra- and inter-subtype cross-neutralizing antibody responses.
HIV-1 subtype B’; Clinical isolates; Neutralization sensitivity
The hydrophobic pocket in the HIV-1 gp41 N-terminal heptad repeat (NHR) domain plays an important role in viral fusion and entry into the host cell, and serves as an attractive target for development of HIV-1 fusion/entry inhibitors. The peptide anti-HIV drug targeting gp41 NHR, T-20 (generic name: enfuvirtide; brand name: Fuzeon), was approved by the U.S. FDA in 2003 as the first HIV fusion/entry inhibitor for treatment of HIV/AIDS patients who fail to respond to the current antiretroviral drugs. However, because T20 lacks the pocket-binding domain (PBD), it exhibits low anti-HIV-1 activity and short half-life. Therefore, several next-generation HIV fusion inhibitory peptides with PBD have been developed. They possess longer half-life and more potent antiviral activity against a broad spectrum of HIV-1 strains, including the T-20-resistant variants. Nonetheless, the clinical application of these peptides is still limited by the lack of oral availability and the high cost of production. Thus, development of small molecule compounds targeting the gp41 pocket with oral availability has been promoted. This review describes the main approaches for identification of HIV fusion/entry inhibitors targeting the gp41 pocket and summarizes the latest progress in developing these inhibitors as a new class of anti-HIV drugs.
HIV-1; gp41; HIV fusion/entry inhibitors; small molecule compounds; hydrophobic pocket
Human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the main viral cause of respiratory tract infection in infants as well as some elderly and high-risk adults with chronic pulmonary disease and the severely immunocompromised. So far, no specific anti-RSV therapeutics or effective anti-RSV vaccines have been reported. Only one humanized monoclonal antibody, Palivizumab, has been approved for use in high-risk infants to prevent RSV infection. Ribavirin is the only drug licensed for therapy of RSV infection, but its clinical use is limited by its nonspecific anti-RSV activity, toxic effect, and relatively high cost. Therefore, development of novel effective anti-RSV therapeutics is urgently needed. The RSV envelope glycoprotein F plays an important role in RSV fusion with, and entry into, the host cell and, consequently, serves as an attractive target for developing RSV entry inhibitors. This article reviews advances made in studies of the structure and function of the F protein and the development of RSV entry inhibitors targeting it.
RSV; viral entry; entry inhibitor; F protein
In the present study we investigate the impact of a range of TLR ligands and chitosan as potential adjuvants for different routes of mucosal immunisation (sublingual (SL), intranasal (IN), intravaginal (IVag) and a parenteral route (subcutaneous (SC)) in the murine model. We assess their ability to enhance antibody responses to HIV-1 CN54gp140 (gp140) and Tetanus toxoid (TT) in systemic and vaginal compartments. A number of trends were observed by route of administration. For non-adjuvanted antigen, SC>SL>IN immunisation with respect to systemic IgG responses, where endpoint titres were greater for TT than for gp140. In general, co-administration with adjuvants increased specific IgG responses where IN = SC>SL, while in the vaginal compartment IN>SL>SC for specific IgA. In contrast, for systemic and mucosal IgA responses to antigen alone SL>IN = SC. A number of adjuvants increased specific systemic IgA responses where in general IN>SL>SC immunisation, while for mucosal responses IN = SL>SC. In contrast, direct intravaginal immunisation failed to induce any detectable systemic or mucosal responses to gp140 even in the presence of adjuvant. However, significant systemic IgG responses to TT were induced by intravaginal immunisation with or without adjuvant, and detectable mucosal responses IgG and IgA were observed when TT was administered with FSL-1 or Poly I∶C. Interestingly some TLRs displayed differential activity dependent upon the route of administration. MPLA (TLR4) suppressed systemic responses to SL immunisation while enhancing responses to IN or SC immunisation. CpG B enhanced SL and IN responses, while having little or no impact on SC immunisation. These data demonstrate important route, antigen and adjuvant effects that need to be considered in the design of mucosal vaccine strategies.
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.
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.
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.
HIV-1; gp41; Peptide; Six helix bundle; Inactivation; HIV-1 fusion inhibitor
A major obstacle thwarting preclinical development of microbicides is the lack of a validated biomarker of cervicovaginal inflammation. Therefore, the present study aims to identify novel noninvasive soluble markers in a murine model for assessment of microbicide mucosal safety. By performing cytokine antibody array analysis, we identified two adhesion molecules, L-selectin and P-selectin, which significantly increased when mucosal inflammation was triggered by nonoxynol-9 (N9), an anti-HIV-1 microbicide candidate that failed clinical trials, in a refined murine model of agent-induced cervicovaginal inflammation. We found that patterns of detection of L-selectin and P-selectin were obviously different from those of the two previously defined biomarkers of cervicovaginal inflammation, monocyte chemotactic protein 1 (MCP-1) and interleukin 6 (IL-6). The levels of these two soluble selectins correlated better than those of MCP-1 and IL-6 with the duration and severity of mucosal inflammation triggered by N9 and two approved proinflammatory compounds, benzalkonium chloride (BZK) and sodium dodecyl sulfate (SDS), but not by two nonproinflammatory compounds, carboxymethyl celluose (CMC; microbicide excipients) and tenofovir (TFV; microbicide candidate). These data indicated that L-selectin and P-selectin can serve as additional novel cervicovaginal inflammation biomarkers for preclinical mucosal safety evaluation of candidate microbicides for the prevention of infection with HIV and other sexually transmitted pathogens.
In nature, B cells produce surface immunoglobulin and secreted antibody from the same immunoglobulin gene via alternative splicing of the pre-messenger RNA. Here we present a novel system for genetically programming B cells to direct the simultaneous formation of membrane-bound and secreted immunoglobulins that we term a “Molecular Rheostat”, based on the use of mutated “self-cleaving” 2A peptides. The Molecular Rheostat is designed so that the ratio of secreted to membrane-bound immunoglobulins can be controlled by selecting appropriate mutations in the 2A peptide. Lentiviral transgenesis of Molecular Rheostat constructs into B cell lines enables the simultaneous expression of functional b12-based IgM-like BCRs that signal to the cells and mediate the secretion of b12 IgG broadly neutralizing antibodies that can bind and neutralize HIV-1 pseudovirus. We show that these b12-based Molecular Rheostat constructs promote the maturation of EU12 B cells in an in vitro model of B lymphopoiesis. The Molecular Rheostat offers a novel tool for genetically manipulating B cell specificity for B-cell based gene therapy.
China is experiencing a dynamic HIV/AIDS epidemic. While serology based surveillance systems have reported the spread of HIV/AIDS, detailed tracking of its transmission in populations and regions is not possible without mapping it at the molecular level. We therefore conducted a nationwide molecular epidemiology survey across the country.
HIV-1 genotypes were determined from 1,408 HIV-positive persons newly diagnosed in 2006. The prevalence of each genotype was estimated by weighting the genotype’s prevalence from each province- and risk-specific subpopulation with the number of reported cases in the corresponding subgroups in that year.
CRF07_BC (35.5%), CRF01_AE (27.6%), CRF08_BC (20.1%), and subtype B' (9.6%) were the four main HIV-1 strains in China. CRF07_BC and CRF08_BC were the primary drivers of infection among injecting drug users in northeastern and southeastern China, respectively, and subtype B' remained dominant among former plasma donors in central China. In contrast, all four strains occurred in significant proportions among heterosexuals nationwide, pointing to an expansion of the HIV-1 epidemic from high-risk populations into the general population. CRF01_AE also replaced subtype B as the principal driver of infection among men-who-have-sex-with-men.
Our study provides the first comprehensive baseline data on the diversity and characteristics of HIV/AIDS epidemic in China, reflecting unique region- and risk group-specific transmission dynamics. The results provide information critical for designing effective prevention measures against HIV transmission.
Identification of broadly cross-reactive HIV-1-neutralizing antibodies (bnAbs) may assist vaccine immunogen design. Here we report a novel human monoclonal antibody (mAb), designated m43, which co-targets the gp120 and gp41 subunits of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (Env). M43 bound to recombinant gp140 s from various primary isolates, to membrane-associated Envs on transfected cells and HIV-1 infected cells, as well as to recombinant gp120 s and gp41 fusion intermediate structures containing N-trimer structure, but did not bind to denatured recombinant gp140 s and the CD4 binding site (CD4bs) mutant, gp120 D368R, suggesting that the m43 epitope is conformational and overlaps the CD4bs on gp120 and the N-trimer structure on gp41. M43 neutralized 34% of the HIV-1 primary isolates from different clades and all the SHIVs tested in assays based on infection of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) by replication-competent virus, but was less potent in cell line-based pseudovirus assays. In contrast to CD4, m43 did not induce Env conformational changes upon binding leading to exposure of the coreceptor binding site, enhanced binding of mAbs 2F5 and 4E10 specific for the membrane proximal external region (MPER) of gp41 Envs, or increased gp120 shedding. The overall modest neutralization activity of m43 is likely due to the limited binding of m43 to functional Envs which could be increased by antibody engineering if needed. M43 may represent a new class of bnAbs targeting conformational epitopes overlapping structures on both gp120 and gp41. Its novel epitope and possibly new mechanism(s) of neutralization could helpdesign improved vaccine immunogens and candidate therapeutics.
During the process of HIV-1 fusion with the target cell, the N-terminal heptad repeat (NHR) of gp41 interacts with the C-terminal heptad repeat (CHR) to form fusogenic six-helix bundle (6-HB) core. We previously identified a crucial residue for 6-HB formation and virus entry - Lys63 (K63) in the C-terminal region of NHR (aa 54–70), which forms a hydrophobic cavity. It can form an important salt bridge with Asp121 (D121) in gp41 CHR. Here, we found another important conserved residue for virus fusion and entry, Arg46 (R46), in the N-terminal region of NHR (aa 35–53), which forms a hydrogen bond with a polar residue, Asn43 (N43), in NHR, as a part of the hydrogen-bond network. R46 can also form a salt bridge with a negatively charged residue, Glu137 (E137), in gp41 CHR. Substitution of R46 with the hydrophobic residue Ala (R46A) or the negatively charged residue Glu (R46E) resulted in disruption of the hydrogen bond network, breakage of the salt bridge and reduction of 6-HB’s stability, leading to impairment of viral fusion and decreased inhibition of N36, an NHR peptide. Similarly, CHR peptide C34 with substitution of E137 for Ala (E137A) or Arg (E137R) also exhibited reduced inhibitory activity against HIV-1 infection and HIV-1-mediated cell-to-cell fusion. These results suggest that the positively charged residue R46 and its hydrogen bond network, together with the salt bridge between R46 and E137, are important for viral fusion and entry and may therefore serve as a target for designing novel HIV fusion/entry inhibitors.
Recombinant interferon-γ (IFNγ) production in cultured lentivirus (LV) was explored for inhibition of target virus in cells co-infected with adenovirus type 5 (Ad5). The ability of three different promoters of CMV, EF1α and Ubiquitin initiating the enhanced green fluorescence protein (GFP) activities within lentiviruses was systematically assessed in various cell lines, which showed that certain cell lines selected the most favorable promoter driving a high level of transgenic expression. Recombinant IFNγ lentivirus carrying CMV promoter (LV-CMV-IFNγ) was generated to co-infect 293A cells with a viral surrogate of recombinant GFP Ad5 in parallel with LV-CMV-GFP control. The best morphologic conditions were observed from the two lentiviruses co-infected cells, while single adenovirus infected cells underwent clear pathologic changes. Viral load of adenoviruses from LV-CMV-IFNγ or LV-CMV-GFP co-infected cell cultures was significantly lower than that from adenovirus alone infected cells (P = 0.005–0.041), and the reduction of adenoviral load in the co-infected cells was 86% and 61%, respectively. Ad5 viral load from LV-CMV-IFNγ co-infected cells was significantly lower than that from LV-CMV-GFP co-infection (P = 0.032), which suggested that IFNγ rather than GFP could further enhance the inhibition of Ad5 replication in the recombinant lentivirus co-infected cells. The results suggest that LV-CMV-IFNγ co-infection could significantly inhibit the target virus replication and might be a potential approach for alternative therapy of severe viral diseases.
To prove that the peptidic HIV-1 fusion inhibitors containing the pocket-binding domain (PBD) mainly target the hydrophobic pocket in the gp41 N-terminal heptad repeat (NHR), we constructed pseudoviruses by replacement of Q64 in the gp41 pocket region with Ala (Q64A) or Leu (Q64L). These viruses were highly resistant to C34 and CP32M containing the PBD, while they were susceptible to T20 (enfuvirtide) lacking the PBD but containing the GIV-motif-binding domain (GBD) and lipid-binding domain (LBD). They were also sensitive to C52L, which contains the PBD, GBD, and LBD. Those mutations may disrupt the hydrophilic interaction between Q64 in the NHR and N113 in the peptides containing the PBD. This report provides insights into the mechanisms of drug resistance, with implications for the design of novel HIV fusion and entry inhibitors.
CR6261 was found in 2008 and F10 was found in 2009. In 2010 Friesen et al experimentally showed that Oseltamivir/Zanamivir may improve the therapeutic efficacy of CR6261. As a result, the use of CR6261 combined with a drug to provide an antibody-based therapy against all influenza A viruses was proposed. Although CR8020 may neutralize group 2 influenza viruses and FI6 may neutralize both group 1 and group 2 influenza viruses as determined in 2011, the insight of Friesen et al is still interesting. Here, we address the following questions: how to uncover the molecular mechanism of a drug, which improves the therapeutic efficacy of mAbs and how to find drugs that enable CR6261 (CR8020, F10) to become a universal mAb.
Methods and Findings
Using the 3D structures of 3 gbn, 3 gbm, 3 ztn, 3 ztj, 3 fku and 3 sdy, we separate the 3D structures of CR6261, F10, CR8020 and FI6, and the 3D structures of trimer HAs of H3N2 and H5N1. Based on the experimental result of Friesen et al, we have found many clues, which reveal the molecular mechanism of action for a drug and an HA-mAb complex.
Oseltamivir/Zanamivir may congruously improve the therapeutic efficacies of CR6261, F10, CR8020 and FI6 by providing an additional affinity to compensate for the loss of affinity between HA and mAb resulting from mutations. However, Oseltamivir or Zanamivir are not expected to generally widen the spectrum of these mAbs. In order to enhance CR6261, CR8020, or for F10 to become universal, we may select Azichromycin, Oseltamivir, or the combination of Azichromycin and Oseltamivir, respectively.
The continued spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 virus underscores the importance of effective antiviral approaches. AVFluIgG01 is a potent and broad-reactive H5N1-neutralizing human monoclonal antibody (mAb) showing great potential for use either for therapeutic purposes or as a basis of vaccine development, but its antigenic epitope and neutralization mechanism have not been finely characterized. In this study, we first demonstrated that AVFluIgG01 targets a novel conformation-dependent epitope in the globular head region of H5N1 hemagglutinin (HA). By selecting mimotopes from a random peptide library in combination with computational algorithms and site-directed mutagenesis, the epitope was mapped to three conserved discontinuous sites (I-III) that are located closely at the three-dimensional structure of HA. Further, we found that this HA1-specific human mAb can efficiently block both virus-receptor binding and post-attachment steps, while its Fab fragment exerts the post-attachment inhibition only. Consistently, AVFluIgG01 could inhibit HA-mediated cell-cell membrane fusion at a dose-dependent manner and block the acquisition of pH-induced protease sensitivity. These results suggest a neutralization mechanism of AVFluIgG01 by simultaneously blocking viral attachment to the receptors on host cells and interfering with HA conformational rearrangements associated with membrane fusion. The presented data provide critical information for developing novel antiviral therapeutics and vaccines against HPAI H5N1 virus.
Adjuvants potentiate antigen-specific protective immune responses and can be key elements promoting vaccine effectiveness. We previously reported that the Onchocerca volvulus recombinant protein rOv-ASP-1 can induce activation and maturation of naïve human DCs and therefore could be used as an innate adjuvant to promote balanced Th1 and Th2 responses to bystander vaccine antigens in mice. With a few vaccine antigens, it also promoted a Th1-biased response based on pronounced induction of Th1-associated IgG2a and IgG2b antibody responses and the upregulated production of Th1 cytokines, including IL-2, IFN-γ, TNF-α and IL-6. However, because it is a protein, the rOv-ASP-1 adjuvant may also induce anti-self-antibodies. Therefore, it was important to verify that the host responses to self will not affect the adjuvanticity of rOv-ASP-1 when it is used in subsequent vaccinations with the same or different vaccine antigens. In this study, we have established rOv-ASP-1's adjuvanticity in mice during the course of two sequential vaccinations using two vaccine model systems: the receptor-binding domain (RBD) of SARS-CoV spike protein and a commercial influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) vaccine comprised of three virus strains. Moreover, the adjuvanticity of rOv-ASP-1 was retained with an efficacy similar to that obtained when it was used for a first vaccination, even though a high level of anti-rOv-ASP-1 antibodies was present in the sera of mice before the administration of the second vaccine. To further demonstrate its utility as an adjuvant for human use, we also immunized non-human primates (NHPs) with RBD plus rOv-ASP-1 and showed that rOv-ASP-1 could induce high titres of functional and protective anti-RBD antibody responses in NHPs. Notably, the rOv-ASP-1 adjuvant did not induce high titer antibodies against self in NHPs. Thus, the present study provided a sound scientific foundation for future strategies in the development of this novel protein adjuvant.
Sifuvirtide is a proven effective HIV-1 entry inhibitor and its safety profile has been established for systemic administration. The present study evaluated the potential of sifuvirtide formulated in a universal gel for topical use as a microbicide candidate for preventing sexual transmission of HIV. Our data showed that sifuvirtide formulated in HEC gel is effective against HIV-1 B, C subtypes, CRF07_BC and CRF01_AE, the latter two recombinants represents the most prevalent strains in China. In addition, we demonstrated that sifuvirtide in gel is stable for at least 8 weeks even at 40°C, and did not cause the disruption of integrity of mucosal epithelial surface, or the up-regulation of inflammatory cytokines both in vitro or in vivo. These results suggest that sifuvirtide gel is an effective, safe and stable product, and should be further tested as a vaginal or rectal microbicide in pre-clinical model or clinical trial for preventing HIV sexual transmission.
Neutralizing antibodies provide markers for vaccine-induced protective immunity in many viral infections. By analogy, HIV-1 neutralizing antibodies induced by immunization may well predict vaccine effectiveness. Assessment of neutralizing antibodies is therefore of primary importance, but is hampered by the fact that we do not know which assay(s) can provide measures of protective immunity. An international collaboration (NeutNet) involving 18 different laboratories previously compared different assays using monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) and soluble CD4 (Phase I study).
In the present study (Phase II), polyclonal reagents were evaluated by 13 laboratories. Each laboratory evaluated nine plasmas against an 8 virus panel representing different genetic subtypes and phenotypes. TriMab, a mixture of three mAbs, was used as a positive control allowing comparison of the results with Phase I in a total of nine different assays. The assays used either uncloned virus produced in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) (Virus Infectivity Assays, VIA), or Env (gp160)-pseudotyped viruses (pseudoviruses, PSV) produced in HEK293T cells from molecular clones or from uncloned virus. Target cells included PBMC and genetically engineered cell lines in either single- or multiple-cycle infection format. Infection was quantified by using a range of assay read-outs including extra- or intra-cellular p24 antigen detection, luciferase, beta-galactosidase or green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter gene expression.
Using TriMab, results of Phase I and Phase II were generally in agreement for six of the eight viruses tested and confirmed that the PSV assay is more sensitive than PBMC (p = 0.014). Comparisons with the polyclonal reagents showed that sensitivities were dependent on both virus and plasma.
Here we further demonstrate clear differences in assay sensitivities that were dependent on both the neutralizing reagent and the virus. Consistent with the Phase I study, we recommend parallel use of PSV and VIA for vaccine evaluation.
Based on the structures and activities of our previously identified non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs), we designed and synthesized two sets of derivatives, diarylpyridines (A) and diarylanilines (B), and tested their anti-HIV-1 activity against infection by HIV-1 NL4-3 and IIIB in TZM-bl and MT-2 cells, respectively. The results showed that most compounds exhibited potent anti-HIV-1 activity with low nanomolar EC50 values, and some of them, such as 13m, 14c, and 14e, displayed high potency with subnanomolar EC50 values, which were more potent than etravirine (TMC125, 1) in the same assays. Notably, these compounds were also highly effective against infection by multi-RTI-resistant strains, suggesting a high potential to further develop these compounds as a novel class of NNRTIs with improved antiviral efficacy and resistance profile.
IbeA-induced NF-κB signaling through its primary receptor vimentin as well as its co-receptor PSF is required for meningitic E. coli K1 penetration and leukocyte transmigration across the blood-brain barrier (BBB), which are the hallmarks of bacterial meningitis. However, it is unknown how vimentin and PSF cooperatively contribute to IbeA-induced cytoplasmic activation and nuclear translocation of NF-κB, which are required for bacteria-mediated pathogenicities.
IbeA-induced E. coli K1 invasion, polymorphonuclear leukocyte (PMN) transmigration and IKK/NF-κB activation are blocked by Caffeic acid phenethyl ester (CAPE), an inhibitor of NF-κB. IKKα/β phosphorylation is blocked by ERK inhibitors. Co-immunoprecipitation analysis shows that vimentin forms a complex with IκB, NF-κB and tubulins in the resting cells. A dissociation of this complex and a simultaneous association of PSF with NF-κB could be induced by IbeA in a time-dependent manner. The head domain of vimentin is required for the complex formation. Two cytoskeletal components, vimentin filaments and microtubules, contribute to the regulation of NF-κB. SiRNA-mediated knockdown studies demonstrate that IKKα/β phosphorylation is completely abolished in HBMECs lacking vimentin and PSF. Phosphorylation of ERK and nuclear translocation of NF-κB are entirely dependent on PSF. These findings suggest that vimentin and PSF cooperatively contribute to IbeA-induced cytoplasmic activation and nuclear translocation of NF-κB activation. PSF is essential for translocation of NF-κB and ERK to the nucleus.
These findings reveal previously unappreciated facets of the IbeA-binding proteins. Cooperative contributions of vimentin and PSF to IbeA-induced cytoplasmic activation and nuclear translocation of NF-κB may represent a new paradigm in pathogen-induced signal transduction and lead to the development of novel strategies for the prevention and treatment of bacterial meningitis.
The development of a safe, effective, and affordable combination microbicide to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV combination is urgently needed. Our previous studies demonstrated that 3-hydroxyphthalic anhydride-modified chicken ovalbumin (HP-OVA) exhibited potent antiviral activity against a broad spectrum of HIV, simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) and herpes simplex virus (HSV), making it a promising candidate as a component of combination microbicide. Here we intended to evaluate potential synergistic anti-HIV-1 effect of HP-OVA in combinations with antiretroviral drug (ARV)-based microbicide candidates.
The antiviral activity of HP-OVA and the ARVs, including HIV-1 entry inhibitors (T20, C52L, NB64, NBD556, AMD3100 and Maraviroc) and reverse transcriptase inhibitors (Tenofovir, UC781 and TMC120), tested alone or in combination, against HIV-1 X4 and R5 viruses, including some drug-resistant strains, was determined in MT-2 and peripheral blood mononuclear cells using p24 assay. The immune responses induced by HP-OVA that was applied in the vaginas of rats were detected by ELISA.
When each of these ARV-based microbicide candidates was combined with HP-OVA, synergistic activity was observed against infection by both X4 and R5 strains, and the degree of synergy differed in each case. HP-OVA was highly effective against several ARV-resistant HIV-1 strains, suggesting that combining HP-OVA with these ARV-based microbicide candidates might work cooperatively against both drug-sensitive and resistant HIV-1 strains. Human body fluids and human proteins had little or no effects on HP-OVA-mediated inhibitory activity against HIV-1 infection. HP-OVA formulated in the universal gel maintained its antiviral activity for at least one month and only induced weak immune responses after its multiple applications in the vaginas of rats.
Synergistic and complementary effects against infection by a broad spectrum of HIV-1 strains were observed by combining HP-OVA with the ARV-based microbicide candidates. These findings provide a sound scientific platform for the development of a safe, effective and affordable combination microbicide to prevent the sexual transmission of HIV and other sexually transmissible viruses.
HIV; 3-hydroxyphthalic anhydride-modified chicken ovalbumin; synergism; antiretroviral drug-based microbicides
Human immunodeficiency virus-1 (HIV-1) viral infectivity factor (Vif) is essential for viral replication because of its ability to eliminate the host's antiviral response to HIV-1 that is mediated by the APOBEC3 family of cellular cytidine deaminases. Vif targets these proteins, including APOBEC3G, for polyubiquitination and subsequent proteasome-mediated degradation via the formation of a Cullin5-ElonginB/C-based E3 ubiquitin ligase. Determining how the cellular components of this E3 ligase complex interact with Vif is critical to the intelligent design of new antiviral drugs. However, structural studies of Vif, both alone and in complex with cellular partners, have been hampered by an inability to express soluble full-length Vif protein. Here we demonstrate that a newly identified host regulator of Vif, core-binding factor-beta (CBFβ), interacts directly with Vif, including various isoforms and a truncated form of this regulator. In addition, carboxyl-terminal truncations of Vif lacking the BC-box and cullin box motifs were sufficient for CBFβ interaction. Furthermore, association of Vif with CBFβ, alone or in combination with Elongin B/C (EloB/C), greatly increased the solubility of full-length Vif. Finally, a stable complex containing Vif-CBFβ-EloB/C was purified in large quantity and shown to bind purified Cullin5 (Cul5). This efficient strategy for purifying Vif-Cul5-CBFβ-EloB/C complexes will facilitate future structural and biochemical studies of Vif function and may provide the basis for useful screening approaches for identifying novel anti-HIV drug candidates.
Recent studies have shown the public health importance of identifying acute HIV infection (AHI) in the men who have sex with men (MSM) of China, which has a much higher risk of HIV transmission. However, cost-utility analyses to guide policy around AHI screening are lacking.
An open prospective cohort was recruited among MSM living in Liaoning Province, Northeast China. Blood samples and epidemiological information were collected every 10 weeks. Third-generation ELISA and rapid test were used for HIV antibody screening, western blot assay (WB) served for assay validation. Antibody negative specimens were tested with 24 mini-pool nucleic acid amplification testing (NAAT). Specimens with positive ELISA but negative or indeterminate WB results were tested with NAAT individually without mixing. A cost-utility analysis of NAAT screening was assessed. Among the 5,344 follow-up visits of 1,765 MSM in 22 months, HIV antibody tests detected 114 HIV chronic infections, 24 seroconverters and 21 antibody indeterminate cases. 29 acute HIV infections were detected with NAAT from 21 antibody indeterminate and 1,606 antibody negative cases. The HIV-1 prevalence and incidence density were 6.6% (95% CI: 5.5–7.9) and 7.1 (95% CI: 5.4–9.2)/100 person-years, respectively. With pooled NAAT and individual NAAT strategy, the cost of an HIV transmission averted was $1,480. The addition of NAAT after HIV antibody tests had a cost-utility ratio of $3,366 per gained quality-adjusted life year (QALY). The input-output ratio of NAAT was about 1∶16.9.
The HIV infections among MSM continue to rise at alarming rates. Despite the rising cost, adding pooled NAAT to the HIV antibody screening significantly increases the identification of acute HIV infections in MSM. Early treatment and target-oriented publicity and education programs can be strengthened to decrease the risk of HIV transmission and to save medical resources in the long run.