Heterozygosity for the CCR5 Delta32 allele is associated with delayed progression to AIDS in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection. Here we describe an unusual HIV-1 isolate from the blood of an asymptomatic individual who was heterozygous for the CCR5 Delta32 allele and had reduced levels of CCR5 expression. The primary virus used CCR5, CXCR4, and an unusually broad range of alternative coreceptors to enter transfected cells. However, only CXCR4 and CCR5 were used to enter primary T cells and monocyte-derived macrophages, respectively. Full-length Env clones had an unusually long V1/V2 region and rare amino acid variants in the V3 and C4 regions. Mutagenesis studies and structural models suggested that Y308, D321, and to a lesser extent K442 and E444, contribute to the broad coreceptor usage of these Envs, whereas I317 is likely to be a compensatory change. Furthermore, database analysis suggests that covariation can occur at positions 308/317 and 308/321 in vivo. Y308 and D321 reduced dependence on the extracellular loop 2 (ECL2) region of CCR5, while these residues along with Y330, K442, and E444 enhanced dependence on the CCR5 N-terminus compared to clade B consensus residues at these positions. These results suggest that expanded coreceptor usage of HIV-1 can occur in some individuals without rapid progression to AIDS as a consequence of changes in the V3 region that reduce dependence on the ECL2 region of CCR5 by enhancing interactions with conserved structural elements in G-protein-coupled receptors.
HIV infects macrophages and microglia in the central nervous system (CNS), which express lower levels of CD4 than CD4+ T cells in peripheral blood. To investigate mechanisms of HIV neurotropism, full-length env genes were cloned from autopsy brain and lymphoid tissues from 4 AIDS patients with HIV-associated dementia (HAD). Characterization of 55 functional Env clones demonstrated that Envs with reduced dependence on CD4 for fusion and viral entry are more frequent in brain compared to lymphoid tissue. Envs that mediated efficient entry into macrophages were frequent in brain but were also present in lymphoid tissue. For most Envs, entry into macrophages correlated with overall fusion activity at all levels of CD4 and CCR5. gp160 nucleotide sequences were compartmentalized in brain versus lymphoid tissue within each patient. Proline at position 308 in the V3 loop of gp120 was associated with brain compartmentalization in 3 patients, but mutagenesis studies suggested that P308 alone does not contribute to reduced CD4 dependence or macrophage-tropism. These results suggest that HIV adaptation to replicate in the CNS selects for Envs with reduced CD4 dependence and increased fusion activity. Macrophage-tropic Envs are frequent in brain but are also present in lymphoid tissues of AIDS patients with HAD, and entry into macrophages in the CNS and other tissues is dependent on the ability to use low receptor levels and overall efficiency of fusion.
BACKGROUND: CCR5-restricted (R5) human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) variants cause CD4+ T-cell loss in the majority of individuals who progress to AIDS, but mechanisms underlying the pathogenicity of R5 strains are poorly understood. To better understand envelope glycoprotein (Env) determinants contributing to pathogenicity of R5 viruses, we characterized 37 full-length R5 Envs from cross-sectional and longitudinal R5 viruses isolated from blood of patients with asymptomatic infection or AIDS, referred to as pre-AIDS (PA) and AIDS (A) R5 Envs, respectively.
RESULTS: Compared to PA-R5 Envs, A-R5 Envs had enhanced fusogenicity in quantitative cell-cell fusion assays, and reduced sensitivity to inhibition by the fusion inhibitor T-20. Sequence analysis identified the presence of Asn 362 (N362), a potential N-linked glycosylation site immediately N-terminal to CD4-binding site (CD4bs) residues in the C3 region of gp120, more frequently in A-R5 Envs than PA-R5 Envs. N362 was associated with enhanced fusogenicity, faster entry kinetics, and increased sensitivity of Env-pseudotyped reporter viruses to neutralization by the CD4bs-directed Env mAb IgG1b12. Mutagenesis studies showed N362 contributes to enhanced fusogenicity of most A-R5 Envs. Molecular models indicate N362 is located adjacent to the CD4 binding loop of gp120, and suggest N362 may enhance fusogenicity by promoting greater exposure of the CD4bs and/or stabilizing the CD4-bound Env structure.
CONCLUSION: Enhanced fusogenicity is a phenotype of the A-R5 Envs studied, which was associated with the presence of N362, enhanced HIV-1 entry kinetics and increased CD4bs exposure in gp120. N362 contributes to fusogenicity of R5 Envs in a strain dependent manner. Our studies suggest enhanced fusogenicity of A-R5 Envs may contribute to CD4+ T-cell loss in subjects who progress to AIDS whilst harbouring R5 HIV-1 variants. N362 may contribute to this effect in some individuals.
Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV) infection of the central nervous system frequently causes HIV-associated dementia (HAD) and other neurological disorders. The role of HIV regulatory and accessory proteins in the pathogenesis of these disorders is unclear. Here we analyzed sequences of tat, rev, and vpu genes in 55 subgenomic clones previously shown to encode functional env genes from brain and lymphoid tissues of four AIDS patients with HAD. Phylogenetic analysis showed distinct compartmentalization of tat, rev, and vpu genes in brain versus lymphoid tissues. Nine of 19 vpu sequences from brain of two patients had premature stop codons at positions between amino acids 2 and 30, compared with 0 of 8 from lymphoid tissues. Tat sequences from brain (n = 8 of 8) but not lymphoid (n = 0 of 6) tissue from one patient had a 35 amino acid truncation at the C-terminus. Rev sequences from the brain of one patient (n = 6 of 8) had a 5 amino acid truncation. These results demonstrate a high frequency of defective vpu compared with tat and rev genes in brain from HAD patients, and identify sequence variants of these regulatory/accessory genes that may influence the pathogenesis of HIV-associated neurological disease.
The APOBEC3 cytidine deaminases are potent antiviral factors that restrict replication of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). HIV-1 Vif binds APOBEC3G and APOBEC3F and targets these proteins for ubiquitination by forming an E3 ubiquitin ligase with cullin 5 and elongins B and C. The N-terminal region of Vif is required for APOBEC3G binding, but the binding site(s) is unknown. To identify the APOBEC3G binding site in Vif, we established a scalable binding assay in a format compatible with development of high-throughput screens. In vitro binding assays using recombinant proteins identified Vif peptides and monoclonal antibodies that inhibit Vif-APOBEC3G binding and suggested involvement of Vif residues 33 to 83 in APOBEC3G binding. Cell-based binding assays confirmed these results and demonstrated that residues 40 to 71 in the N terminus of Vif contain a nonlinear binding site for APOBEC3G. Mutation of the highly conserved residues His42/43 but not other charged residues in this region inhibited Vif-APOBEC3G binding, Vif-mediated degradation of APOBEC3G, and viral infectivity. In contrast, mutation of these residues had no significant effect on Vif binding and degradation of APOBEC3F, suggesting a differential requirement for His42/43 in Vif binding to APOBEC3G and APOBEC3F. These results identify a nonlinear APOBEC3 binding site in the N terminus of Vif and demonstrate that peptides or antibodies directed against this region can inhibit Vif-APOBEC3G binding, validating the Vif-APOBEC3 interface as a potential drug target.
HIV infects macrophages and microglia in the central nervous system (CNS). Mechanisms that enhance HIV macrophage/microglial tropism are not well understood. Here, we identify an HIV Env variant in the V4 region of gp120, Asp 386 (D386), that eliminates an N-linked glycosylation site at position 386, enhances viral replication in macrophages, and is present at a higher frequency in AIDS patients with HIV-associated dementia (HAD) compared with non-HAD patients. D386 enhances HIV entry and replication in macrophages but not in microglia or peripheral blood mononuclear cells, possibly due to differential glycosylation in these cell types. A D386N mutation in the UK1br Env, which restores the N-linked glycan site, reduced neutralization sensitivity to the IgG1b12 (b12) monoclonal antibody, which recognizes a conserved neutralization epitope that overlaps the CD4 binding site. Molecular modeling suggested that loss of the glycan at position 386 increases exposure of the CD4 and b12 binding sites on gp120. Loss of a glycan at 386 was more frequent in Envs from HAD patients (26%; n=185) compared with non-HAD patients (7%; n=99; p<0.001). The most significant association of these Env variants with HAD was in blood or lymphoid tissue rather than brain. These findings suggest that increased exposure of the b12 epitope overlapping the CD4 binding site via elimination of a glycan at position 386 is associated with enhanced HIV macrophage tropism, and provide evidence that determinants of macrophage and microglia tropism are overlapping but distinct.
In efforts to develop an effective vaccine, sterilizing immunity to primate lentiviruses has only been achieved by the use of live attenuated viruses carrying major deletions in nef and other accessory genes. Although live attenuated HIV vaccines are unlikely to be developed due to a myriad of safety concerns, opportunities exist to better understand the correlates of immune protection against HIV infection by studying rare cohorts of long-term survivors infected with attenuated, nef-deleted HIV strains such as the Sydney blood bank cohort (SBBC). Here, we review studies of viral evolution, pathogenicity, and immune responses to HIV infection in SBBC members. The studies show that potent, broadly neutralizing anti-HIV antibodies and robust CD8+ T-cell responses to HIV infection were not necessary for long-term control of HIV infection in a subset of SBBC members, and were not sufficient to prevent HIV sequence evolution, augmentation of pathogenicity and eventual progression of HIV infection in another subset. However, a persistent T-helper proliferative response to HIV p24 antigen was associated with long-term control of infection. Together, these results underscore the importance of the host in the eventual outcome of infection. Thus, whilst generating an effective antibody and CD8+ T-cell response are an essential component of vaccines aimed at preventing primary HIV infection, T-helper responses may be important in the generation of an effective therapeutic vaccine aimed at blunting chronic HIV infection.
BACKGROUND: The Sydney blood bank cohort (SBBC) of long-term survivors consists of multiple individuals infected with attenuated, nef-deleted variants of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) acquired from a single source. Long-term prospective studies have demonstrated that the SBBC now comprises slow progressors (SP) as well as long-term nonprogressors (LTNP). Convergent evolution of nef sequences in SBBC SP and LTNP indicates the in vivo pathogenicity of HIV-1 in SBBC members is dictated by factors other than nef. To better understand mechanisms underlying the pathogenicity of nef-deleted HIV-1, we examined the phenotype and env sequence diversity of sequentially isolated viruses (n = 2) from 3 SBBC members.
RESULTS: The viruses characterized here were isolated from two SP spanning a three or six year period during progressive HIV-1 infection (subjects D36 and C98, respectively) and from a LTNP spanning a two year period during asymptomatic, nonprogressive infection (subject C18). Both isolates from D36 were R5X4 phenotype and, compared to control HIV-1 strains, replicated to low levels in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC). In contrast, both isolates from C98 and C18 were CCR5-restricted. Both viruses isolated from C98 replicated to barely detectable levels in PBMC, whereas both viruses isolated from C18 replicated to low levels, similar to those isolated from D36. Analysis of env by V1V2 and V3 heteroduplex tracking assay, V1V2 length polymorphisms, sequencing and phylogenetic analysis showed distinct intra- and inter-patient env evolution.
CONCLUSION: Independent evolution of env despite convergent evolution of nef may contribute to the in vivo pathogenicity of nef-deleted HIV-1 in SBBC members, which may not necessarily be associated with changes in replication capacity or viral coreceptor specificity.
The Sydney Blood Bank Cohort (SBBC) consists of eight blood transfusion recipients infected with nef-attenuated human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) acquired from a single donor. Here, we show that viral phenotypes and antibody responses differ considerably between individual cohort members, despite the single source of infection. Replication of isolated virus varied from barely detectable to similar to that of the wild-type virus, and virus isolated from five SBBC members showed coreceptor usage signatures unique to each individual. Higher viral loads and stronger neutralizing antibody responses were associated with better-replicating viral strains, and detectable viral replication was essential for the development of strong and sustained humoral immune responses. Despite the presence of strong neutralizing antibodies in a number of SBBC members, disease progression was not prevented, and each cohort member studied displayed a unique outcome of infection with nef-attenuated HIV-1.
The CD16+ subset of peripheral blood monocytes (Mo) is expanded dramatically during inflammatory conditions including sepsis, HIV-1 infection, and cancer. CD16+ express high levels of CX3CR1, which mediates arrest onto CX3CL1-expressing endothelial cells (EC) under flow conditions. In contrast, attachment of CD16- Mo onto cytokine-activated EC is independent of CX3CL1. Here, we investigate the ability of CD16+ and CD16- Mo to produce proinflammatory cytokines upon interaction with CX3CL1-expressing HUVEC. We demonstrate that CD16+ but not CD16- Mo produce high levels of IL-6, CCL2, and matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-9 when cocultured with TNF/IFN-gamma-activated HUVEC or nonactivated HUVEC expressing CX3CL1. Furthermore, supernatants from Mo cocultured with cytokine-activated HUVEC induce neuronal death in vitro. These results suggest that membrane-bound CX3CL1 stimulates production of IL-6, CCL2, and MMP-9 by CD16+ Mo, likely via engagement of CX3CR1. Thus, expansion of CD16+ Mo and their accumulation onto CX3CL1-expressing EC may result in recruitment of Mo and T cell subsets at sites of inflammation in response to CCL2, IL-6-induced cell activation and/or differentiation, and MMP-9-mediated vascular and tissue injury.
HIV infects tissue macrophages and brain microglia, which express lower levels of CD4 and CCR5 than CD4+ T cells in peripheral blood. Mechanisms that enhance HIV tropism for macrophages in the CNS and other tissues are not well understood. Here, we identify an HIV envelope glycoprotein (Env) variant in the CD4-binding site of gp120, Asn 283 (N283), that is present at a high frequency in brain tissues from AIDS patients with HIV-associated dementia (HAD). N283 increases gp120 affinity for CD4 by decreasing the gp120-CD4 dissociation rate, enhancing the capacity of HIV Envs to use low levels of CD4 for virus entry and increasing viral replication in macrophages and microglia. Structural modeling suggests that the enhanced ability of Envs with N283 to use low levels of CD4 is due to a hydrogen bond formed with Gln 40 of CD4. N283 is significantly more frequent in brain-derived Envs from HAD patients (41%; n=330) compared with non-HAD patients (8%; n=151; P<0.001). These findings suggest that the macrophage-tropic HIV Env variant N283 is associated with brain infection and dementia in vivo, representing an example of a HIV variant associated with a specific AIDS-related complication.
Primary human neuron cultures are an important in vitro model system for studies on mechanisms involved in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-associated dementia (HAD) and other neurological disorders. Here, more than 80 cell surface antigens were screened to identify a marker that could readily distinguish between neurons and astrocytes and found that neurons lack CD44 surface expression, whereas astrocytes and other cell types in brain are CD44+. Neurons and astrocytes were isolated from human fetal brain based on differential expression of CD44. Using purified neurons cocultured with astrocytes and/or microglia, it was demonstrated that HIV infection of microglia induces cellular activation and production of soluble factors that activate uninfected microglia and astrocytes and induce neuronal cell death. Activated astrocytes promoted HIV replication in microglia, thereby amplifying HIV-induced neurotoxicity. A screen for 120 cytokine/proteins detected upregulation of insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-binding protein (IGFBP)-2, interleukin (IL)-6, and CCL8/MCP-2 (monocyte chemoattractant protein 2) in supernatants of HIV-infected brain cell cultures. IGF-1 and -2 increased neuronal survival in HIV-infected brain cell cultures, whereas IGFBP-2 inhibited prosurvival effects of these growth factors. These findings identify CD44 as a marker that can be used to sort neurons from other cell types in brain, suggest the importance of microglia-astrocyte interactions in neurodegenerative mechanisms associated with HIV infection, and indicate a role for insulin-like growth factors in neuroprotection from HIV-induced neurodegeneration. The ability to reconstitute brain cultures using isolated populations of neurons, astrocytes, and microglia will be valuable for studies on pathogenic mechanisms in HAD and other neurological disorders, and will also facilitate neuroactive drug discovery.