Binding of the HIV-1 gp120 -V3 to cellular glycosphingolipids is necessary for CXCR4 recruitment and infection

Eric Michael Vela, The University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at Houston


Infection by human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) is a multi-step process, and detailed analyses of the various events critical for productive infection are necessary to clearly understanding the infection process and identifying novel targets for therapeutic interventions. Evidence from this study reveals binding of the viral envelope protein to host cell glycosphingolipids (GSLs) as a novel event necessary for the orderly progression of the host cell-entry and productive infection by HIV-1. Data obtained from co-immunoprecipitation analyses and confocal microscopy showed that the ability of viral envelope to interact with the co-receptor CXCR4 and productive infection of HIV-1 were inhibited in cells rendered GSL-deficient, while both these activities were restored after reconstitution of the cells with specific GSLs like GM3. Furthermore, evidence was obtained using peptide-inhibitors of HIV-1 infection to show that binding of a specific region within the V3-loop of the envelope protein gp120 to the host cell GSLs is the trigger necessary for the CD4-bound gp120 to recruit the CXCR4 co-receptor. Infection-inhibitory activity of the V3 peptides was compromised in GSL-deficient cells, but could be restored by reconstitution of GSLs. Based on these findings, a revised model for HIV-1 infection is proposed that accounts for the established interactions between the viral envelope and host cell receptors while enumerating the importance of the new findings that fill the gap in the current knowledge of the sequential events for the HIV-1 entry. According to this model, post-CD4 binding of the HIV-1 envelope surface protein gp120 to host cell GSLs, mediated by the gp120-V3 region, enables formation of the gp120-CD4-GSL-CXCR4 immune-complex and productive infection. The identification of cellular GSLs as an additional class of co-factors necessary for HIV-1 infection is important for enhancing the basic knowledge of the HIV-1 entry that can be exploited for developing novel antiviral therapeutic strategies.

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Recommended Citation

Vela, Eric Michael, "Binding of the HIV-1 gp120 -V3 to cellular glycosphingolipids is necessary for CXCR4 recruitment and infection" (2005). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI3160649.