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1.  Identification of interdependent variables that influence coreceptor switch in R5 SHIVSF162P3N-infected macaques 
Retrovirology  2012;9:106.
We previously reported that adoption of an “open” envelope glycoprotein (Env) to expose the CD4 binding site for efficient receptor binding and infection of cell targets such as macrophages that express low levels of the receptor represents an early event in the process of coreceptor switch in two rapidly progressing (RP) R5 SHIVSF162P3N-infected rhesus macaques, releasing or reducing Env structural constraints that have been suggested to limit the pathways available for a change in coreceptor preference. Here we extended these studies to two additional RP monkeys with coreceptor switch and three without to confirm and identify additional factors that facilitated the process of phenotypic conversion.
We found that regardless of coreceptor switching, R5 viruses in SHIVSF162P3N-infected RP macaques evolved over time to infect macrophages more efficiently; this was accompanied by increased sCD4 sensitivity, with structural changes in the CD4 binding site, the V3 loop and/or the fusion domain of their Envs that are suggestive of better CD4 contact, CCR5 usage and/or virus fusion. However, sCD4-sensitive variants with improved CD4 binding were observed only in RPs with coreceptor switch. Furthermore, cumulative viral load was higher in RPs with than in those without phenotypic switch, with the latter maintaining a longer period of seroconversion.
Our data suggest that the increased virus replication in the RPs with R5-to-X4 conversion increased the rate of virus evolution and reduction in the availability of target cells with optimal CD4 expression heightened the competition for binding to the receptor. In the absence of immunological restrictions, variants that adopt an “open” Env to expose the CD4 binding site for better CD4 use are selected, allowing structural changes that confer CXCR4-use to be manifested. Viral load, change in target cell population during the course of infection and host immune response therefore are interdependent variables that influence R5 virus evolution and coreceptor switch in SHIVSF162P3N-infected rhesus macaques. Because an "open" Env conformation also renders the virus more susceptible to antibody neutralization, our findings help to explain the infrequent and late appearance of X4 virus in HIV-1 infection when the immune system deteriorates.
PMCID: PMC3528637  PMID: 23237529
R5 SHIV; Coreceptor switch; CD4 binding; Macrophage infection
2.  Mutational Pathways and Genetic Barriers to CXCR4-Mediated Entry by Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 
Virology  2010;409(2):308-318.
To examine mutational pathways that lead to CXCR4 use of HIV-1, we analyzed the genotypic and phenotypic characteristics of envelope sequences from a large panel of patient virus populations and individual clones containing different V3 mutations. Basic amino acid substitutions at position 11 were strong determinants of CXCR4-mediated entry, but required multiple compensatory mutations to overcome associated reductions in infectivity. In contrast, basic amino acid substitutions at position 25, or substitutions at position 6–8 resulting in the loss of a potential N-linked glycosylation site, contributed to CXCR4-mediated entry, but required additional substitutions acting cooperatively to confer efficient CXCR4 use. Our assumptions, based upon examination of patient viruses, were largely confirmed by characterizing the coreceptor utilization of five distinct panels of isogenic envelope sequences containing V3 amino acid substitutions introduced by site-directed mutagenesis. These results further define the mutational pathways leading to CXCR4 use and their associated genetic barriers.
PMCID: PMC3428208  PMID: 21071054
HIV-1; V3; coreceptor; tropism; X4; R5; dual; CXCR4; CCR5; CCR5 antagonist
3.  Loss of Asparagine-Linked Glycosylation Sites in Variable Region 5 of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Envelope Is Associated with Resistance to CD4 Antibody Ibalizumab ▿  
Journal of Virology  2011;85(8):3872-3880.
Ibalizumab (formerly TNX-355) is a first-in-class, monoclonal antibody inhibitor of CD4-mediated human immunodeficiency type 1 (HIV-1) entry. Multiple clinical trials with HIV-infected patients have demonstrated the antiviral activity, safety, and tolerability of ibalizumab treatment. A 9-week phase Ib study adding ibalizumab monotherapy to failing drug regimens led to transient reductions in HIV viral loads and the evolution of HIV-1 variants with reduced susceptibility to ibalizumab. This report characterizes these variants by comparing the phenotypic susceptibilities and envelope (env) sequences of (i) paired baseline and on-treatment virus populations, (ii) individual env clones from selected paired samples, and (iii) env clones containing site-directed mutations. Viruses with reduced susceptibility to ibalizumab were found to exhibit reduced susceptibility to the anti-CD4 antibody RPA-T4. Conversely, susceptibility to soluble CD4, which targets the HIV-1 gp120 envelope protein, was enhanced. No changes in susceptibility to the fusion inhibitor enfuvirtide or the CCR5 antagonist maraviroc were observed. Functionally, viruses with reduced ibalizumab susceptibility also displayed high levels of infectivity relative to those of paired baseline viruses. Individual env clones exhibiting reduced ibalizumab susceptibility contained multiple amino acid changes in different regions relative to the paired baseline clones. In particular, clones with reduced susceptibility to ibalizumab contained fewer potential asparagine-linked glycosylation sites (PNGSs) in variable region 5 (V5) than did paired ibalizumab-susceptible clones. The reduction in ibalizumab susceptibility due to the loss of V5 PNGSs was confirmed by site-directed mutagenesis. Taken together, these findings provide important insights into resistance to this new class of antiretroviral drug.
PMCID: PMC3126132  PMID: 21289125
4.  Characterization of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Populations Containing CXCR4-Using Variants from Recently Infected Individuals 
We screened 150 individuals from two recent seroconverter cohorts and found that six (4%) had CXCR4-using viruses. Clonal analysis of these six individuals, along with a seventh individual identified during clinical care as a recent seroconverter, revealed the presence of both X4- and dual-tropic variants in these recently infected adults. The ability of individual CXCR4-using variants to infect cells expressing CD4/CXCR4 or CD4/CCR5 varied dramatically. These data demonstrate that virus populations in some newly infected individuals can consist of either heterogeneous populations containing both CXCR4-using and CCR5-tropic viruses, or homogeneous populations containing only CXCR4-using viruses. The presence of CXCR4-using viruses at early stages of infection suggests that testing for viral tropism before using CCR5 antagonists may be important even in persons with known recent infection. The presence of CXCR4-using viruses in a subset of newly infected individuals could impact the efficacies of vaccine and microbicide strategies that target CCR5-tropic viruses.
PMCID: PMC2827835  PMID: 19678765
5.  The Novel CXCR4 Antagonist KRH-3955 Is an Orally Bioavailable and Extremely Potent Inhibitor of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Infection: Comparative Studies with AMD3100▿  
The previously reported CXCR4 antagonist KRH-1636 was a potent and selective inhibitor of CXCR4-using (X4) human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) but could not be further developed as an anti-HIV-1 agent because of its poor oral bioavailability. Newly developed KRH-3955 is a KRH-1636 derivative that is bioavailable when administered orally with much more potent anti-HIV-1 activity than AMD3100 and KRH-1636. The compound very potently inhibits the replication of X4 HIV-1, including clinical isolates in activated peripheral blood mononuclear cells from different donors. It is also active against recombinant X4 HIV-1 containing resistance mutations in reverse transcriptase and protease and envelope with enfuvirtide resistance mutations. KRH-3955 inhibits both SDF-1α binding to CXCR4 and Ca2+ signaling through the receptor. KRH-3955 inhibits the binding of anti-CXCR4 monoclonal antibodies that recognize the first, second, or third extracellular loop of CXCR4. The compound shows an oral bioavailability of 25.6% in rats, and its oral administration blocks X4 HIV-1 replication in the human peripheral blood lymphocyte-severe combined immunodeficiency mouse system. Thus, KRH-3955 is a new promising agent for HIV-1 infection and AIDS.
PMCID: PMC2704660  PMID: 19451305
6.  Vertical transmission of X4-tropic and dual-tropic HIV-1 in five Ugandan mother–infant pairs 
AIDS (London, England)  2009;23(14):1903-1908.
We previously reported the existence of CXCR4-using HIV-1 in 6–14 week-old Ugandan infants. Whether these viruses were transmitted from the mother perinatally or evolved after transmission is not known. In the current study, we investigated the origin of the CXCR4-using viruses in these infants by comparing HIV-1 envelope clones from the infants to those from their mothers at or near the time of delivery.
Envelope clones were isolated from five Ugandan infant plasma samples that harbored CXCR4-using viruses, collected at the time of HIV diagnosis (four at birth, one at week 6), and from their mothers at delivery. Coreceptor usage and phylogenetic relatedness of HIV-1 populations in mother–infant pairs were analyzed in detail using the Trofile assay and sequence analysis of envelope clones, respectively.
X4-tropic clones were identified in two mother–infant pairs and dual-tropic clones were found in three pairs, either alone or in combination with R5-tropic viruses. Dual-tropic clones varied in their ability to infect CXCR4-expressing cells. In each mother–infant pair, X4-tropic or dual-tropic clones shared similar phenotypic profiles and V3 sequence patterns; gp160 sequences of X4-tropic and dual-tropic clones from infants were phylogenetically indistinguishable from those of their mothers. The virus populations were phylogenetically homogenous in three infants and segregated according to coreceptor tropism in the remaining two infants.
This study demonstrates that X4-tropic and dual-tropic HIV-1 can be transmitted from mother to infant, before, during or shortly after delivery, and establishes vertical transmission as an important source of CXCR4-using viruses in infants.
PMCID: PMC2764460  PMID: 19593079
coreceptor tropism; CXCR4; HIV; mother-to-child; transmission; X4
7.  Selection of HIV Variants with Signature Genotypic Characteristics during Heterosexual Transmission 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2009;199(4):580-589.
Newly infected subjects acquire a limited number of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) variants with specific genotypic and phenotypic features from the array of viruses present in a chronically infected transmitting partner.
We examined HIV-1 envelope sequences from the earliest available serum sample after HIV-1 acquisition in 13 newly infected subjects and from their epidemiologically linked HIV-1–infected heterosexual partner. Samples from both members were collected on the same day in the Rakai Community Cohort Study.
Ten couples were infected with subtype D HIV-1, and 3 pairs had subtype A HIV-1. Newly infected subjects acquired a subset of the viruses that were circulating in the transmitting partner; transmitted variants had less diversity and divergence and were more closely related to the ancestral sequences. The majority of signature amino acid differences among donor and recipient sequences were in and immediately following the V3 loop. Envelopes from recipients were significantly shorter and had a lower V3 charge than envelopes from donors, but there was no significant difference in the number of potential N-linked glycosylation sites.
A minority subset of HIV-1 variants with signature genotypes is favored for transmission in this population.
PMCID: PMC2755256  PMID: 19143562
8.  Suppression of Dualtropic Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 by the CXCR4 Antagonist AMD3100 Is Associated with Efficiency of CXCR4 Use and Baseline Virus Composition▿  
In a phase I/II evaluation of the CXCR4 antagonist AMD3100, human immunodeficiency virus RNA levels were significantly reduced in a single study subject who harbored CXCR4 (X4)-tropic virus, but not in subjects who harbored either dual/mixed (DM)-tropic or CCR5 (R5)-tropic virus (C. W. Hendrix et al., J. Acquir. Immune Defic. Syndr. 37:1253-1262, 2004). In this study, we analyzed the envelope clones of DM-tropic virus in baseline and treated virus populations from 14 subjects. Ten subjects exhibited significant reductions in CXCR4-mediated infectivity after 10 days of AMD3100 therapy relative to baseline (X4 suppressor group), while four subjects had no reduction of CXCR4-mediated infectivity (X4 nonsuppressor group). The baseline viruses of the X4 suppressor group infected CXCR4-expressing cells less efficiently than those of the X4 nonsuppressor group. Clonal analysis indicated that the baseline viruses from the X4 suppressor group contained a higher proportion of R5-tropic variants mixed with CXCR4-using variants, while the X4 nonsuppressor group was enriched for CXCR4-using variants. AMD3100 suppressed X4-tropic variants in all subjects studied, but not all dualtropic variants. Furthermore, dualtropic variants that used CXCR4 efficiently were suppressed by AMD3100, while dualtropic variants that used CXCR4 poorly were not. This study demonstrated that AMD3100 has the ability to suppress both X4-tropic and certain dualtropic variants in vivo. The suppression of CXCR4-using variants by AMD3100 is dependent on both the tropism composition of the virus population and the efficiency of CXCR4 usage of individual variants.
PMCID: PMC2443920  PMID: 18443125
9.  Coreceptor Tropism Can Be Influenced by Amino Acid Substitutions in the gp41 Transmembrane Subunit of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Envelope Protein▿  
Journal of Virology  2008;82(11):5584-5593.
Many studies have demonstrated that the third variable region (V3) of the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) envelope protein (Env) is a major determinant of coreceptor tropism. Other regions in the surface gp120 subunit of Env can modulate coreceptor tropism in a manner that is not fully understood. In this study, we evaluated the effect of env determinants outside of V3 on coreceptor usage through the analysis of (i) patient-derived env clones that differ in coreceptor tropism, (ii) chimeric env sequences, and (iii) site-directed mutants. The introduction of distinct V3 sequences from CXCR4-using clones into an R5-tropic env backbone conferred the inefficient use of CXCR4 in some but not all cases. Conversely, in many cases, X4- and dual-tropic env backbones containing the V3 sequences of R5-tropic clones retained the ability to use CXCR4, suggesting that sequences outside of the V3 regions of these CXCR4-using clones were responsible for CXCR4 use. The determinants of CXCR4 use in a set of dual-tropic env sequences with V3 sequences identical to those of R5-tropic clones mapped to the gp41 transmembrane (TM) subunit. In one case, a single-amino-acid substitution in the fusion peptide of TM was able to confer CXCR4 use; however, TM substitutions associated with CXCR4 use varied among different env sequences. These results demonstrate that sequences in TM can modulate coreceptor specificity and that env sequences other than that of V3 may facilitate efficient CXCR4-mediated entry. We hypothesize that the latter plays an important role in the transition from CCR5 to CXCR4 coreceptor use.
PMCID: PMC2395220  PMID: 18353956
10.  Coreceptor Tropism in Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Subtype D: High Prevalence of CXCR4 Tropism and Heterogeneous Composition of Viral Populations▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;81(15):7885-7893.
In human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) subtype B, CXCR4 coreceptor use ranges from ∼20% in early infection to ∼50% in advanced disease. Coreceptor use by non-subtype B HIV is less well characterized. We studied coreceptor tropism of subtype A and D HIV-1 collected from 68 pregnant, antiretroviral drug-naive Ugandan women (HIVNET 012 trial). None of 33 subtype A or 10 A/D-recombinant viruses used the CXCR4 coreceptor. In contrast, nine (36%) of 25 subtype D viruses used both CXCR4 and CCR5 coreceptors. Clonal analyses of the nine subtype D samples with dual or mixed tropism revealed heterogeneous viral populations comprised of X4-, R5-, and dual-tropic HIV-1 variants. In five of the six samples with dual-tropic strains, V3 loop sequences of dual-tropic clones were identical to those of cocirculating R5-tropic clones, indicating the presence of CXCR4 tropism determinants outside of the V3 loop. These dual-tropic variants with R5-tropic-like V3 loops, which we designated “dual-R,” use CCR5 much more efficiently than CXCR4, in contrast to dual-tropic clones with X4-tropic-like V3 loops (“dual-X”). These observations have implications for pathogenesis and treatment of subtype D-infected individuals, for the association between V3 sequence and coreceptor tropism phenotype, and for understanding potential mechanisms of evolution from exclusive CCR5 use to efficient CXCR4 use by subtype D HIV-1.
PMCID: PMC1951291  PMID: 17507467
11.  Development and Characterization of a Novel Single-Cycle Recombinant-Virus Assay To Determine Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type 1 Coreceptor Tropism▿  
Most human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) strains require either the CXCR4 or CCR5 chemokine receptor to efficiently enter cells. Blocking viral binding to these coreceptors is an attractive therapeutic target. Currently, several coreceptor antagonists are being evaluated in clinical trials that require characterization of coreceptor tropism for enrollment. In this report, we describe the development of an automated and accurate procedure for determining HIV-1 coreceptor tropism (Trofile) and its validation for routine laboratory testing. HIV-1 pseudoviruses are generated using full-length env genes derived from patient virus populations. Coreceptor tropism is determined by measuring the abilities of these pseudovirus populations to efficiently infect CD4+/U87 cells expressing either the CXCR4 or CCR5 coreceptor. Viruses exclusively and efficiently infecting CXCR4+/CD4+/U87 cells are designated X4-tropic. Conversely, viruses exclusively and efficiently infecting CCR5+/CD4+/U87 cells are designated R5-tropic. Viruses capable of infecting both CXCR4+/CD4+/U87 and CCR5+/CD4+/U87 cells are designated dual/mixed-tropic. Assay accuracy and reproducibility were established by evaluating the tropisms of well-characterized viruses and the variability among replicate results from samples tested repeatedly. The viral subtype, hepatitis B virus or hepatitis C virus coinfection, and the plasma viral load did not affect assay performance. Minority subpopulations with alternate tropisms were reliably detected when present at 5 to 10%. The plasma viral load above which samples can be amplified efficiently in the Trofile assay is 1,000 copies per ml of plasma. Trofile has been automated for high-throughput use; it can be used to identify patients most likely to benefit from treatment regimens that include a coreceptor inhibitor and to monitor patients on treatment for the emergence of resistant virus populations that switch coreceptor tropism.
PMCID: PMC1797738  PMID: 17116663

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