Article

Targeted infection of HIV-1 Env expressing cells by HIV(CD4/CXCR4) vectors reveals a potential new rationale for HIV-1 mediated down-modulation of CD4

Molecular Virology and Neurogenetics Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-9403, USA.
Retrovirology (Impact Factor: 4.77). 02/2005; 2:80. DOI: 10.1186/1742-4690-2-80
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Efficient targeted gene transfer and cell type specific transgene expression are important for the safe and effective expression of transgenes in vivo. Enveloped viral vectors allow insertion of exogenous membrane proteins into their envelopes, which could potentially aid in the targeted transduction of specific cell types. Our goal was to specifically target cells that express the T cell tropic HIV-1 envelope protein (Env) using the highly specific interaction of Env with its cellular receptor (CD4) inserted into the envelope of an HIV-1-based viral vector.
To generate HIV-1-based vectors carrying the CD4 molecule in their envelope, the CD4 ectodomain was fused to diverse membrane anchors and inserted together with the HIV-1 coreceptor CXCR4 into the envelopes of HIV-1 vector particles. Independent of the type of CD4 anchor, all chimeric CD4 proteins inserted into HIV-1 vector envelopes and the resultant HIV(CD4/CXCR4) particles were able to selectively confer neomycin resistance to cells expressing the fusogenic T cell tropic HIV-1 Env protein. Unexpectedly, in the absence of Env on the target cells, all vector particles carrying the CD4 ectodomain anchored in their envelope adhered to various cell types without infecting these cells. This cell adhesion was very avid. It was independent of the presence of Env on the target cell, the type of CD4 anchor or the presence of CXCR4 on the particle. In mixed cell populations with defined ratios of Env+/Env- cells, the targeted transduction of Env+ cells by HIV(CD4/CXCR4) particles was diminished in proportion to the number of Env- cells.
Vector diversion caused by a strong, non-selective cell binding of CD4+-vector particles effectively prevents the targeted transduction of HIV-1 Env expressing cells in mixed cell populations. This Env-independent cell adhesion severely limits the effective use of targeted HIV(CD4/CXCR4) vectors designed to interfere with HIV-1 replication in vivo. Importantly, the existence of this newly described and remarkably strong CD4-dependent cell adhesion suggests that the multiple viral efforts to reduce CD4 cell surface expression may, in part, be to prevent cell adhesion to non-target cells and thereby to increase the infectivity of viral progeny. Preventing CD4 down-modulation by HIV-1 might be an effective component of a multi-faceted antiviral strategy.

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