Author(s): Schwalbe B, Schreiber M
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Abstract HIV-1 infection is characterized by an ongoing replication leading to T-lymphocyte decline which is paralleled by the switch from CCR5 to CXCR4 coreceptor usage. To predict coreceptor usage, several computer algorithms using gp120 V3 loop sequence data have been developed. In these algorithms an occupation of the V3 positions 11 and 25, by one of the amino acids lysine (K) or arginine (R), is an indicator for CXCR4 usage. Amino acids R and K dominate at these two positions, but can also be identified at positions 9 and 10. Generally, CXCR4-viruses possess V3 sequences, with an overall positive charge higher than the V3 sequences of R5-viruses. The net charge is calculated by subtracting the number of negatively charged amino acids (D, aspartic acid and E, glutamic acid) from the number of positively charged ones (K and R). In contrast to D and E, which are very similar in their polar and acidic properties, the characteristics of the R guanidinium group differ significantly from the K ammonium group. However, in coreceptor predictive computer algorithms R and K are both equally rated. The study was conducted to analyze differences in infectivity and coreceptor usage because of R-to-K mutations at the V3 positions 9, 10 and 11. V3 loop mutants with all possible RRR-to-KKK triplets were constructed and analyzed for coreceptor usage, infectivity and neutralization by SDF-1α and RANTES. Virus mutants R9R10R11 showed the highest infectivity rates, and were inhibited more efficiently in contrast to the K9K10K11 viruses. They also showed higher efficiency in a virus-gp120 paired infection assay. Especially V3 loop position 9 was relevant for a switch to higher infectivity when occupied by R. Thus, K-to-R exchanges play a role for enhanced viral entry efficiency and should therefore be considered when the viral phenotype is predicted based on V3 sequence data.
This article was published in PLoS One
and referenced in Journal of AIDS & Clinical Research