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Biology 2012, 1(1), 58-80; doi:10.3390/biology1010058
Review

The Surprising Role of Amyloid Fibrils in HIV Infection

1,2
 and 1,2,*
1 Pharmacology Graduate Group, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA 2 Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, 804 Stellar-Chance Laboratories, 422 Curie Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 29 April 2012 / Revised: 19 May 2012 / Accepted: 23 May 2012 / Published: 29 May 2012
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Structural and Molecular Biology of HIV)
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Abstract

Despite its discovery over 30 years ago, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) continues to threaten public health worldwide. Semen is the principal vehicle for the transmission of this retrovirus and several endogenous peptides in semen, including fragments of prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP248-286 and PAP85-120) and semenogelins (SEM1 and SEM2), assemble into amyloid fibrils that promote HIV infection. For example, PAP248-286 fibrils, termed SEVI (Semen derived Enhancer of Viral Infection), potentiate HIV infection by up to 105-fold. Fibrils enhance infectivity by facilitating virion attachment and fusion to target cells, whereas soluble peptides have no effect. Importantly, the stimulatory effect is greatest at low viral titers, which mimics mucosal transmission of HIV, where relatively few virions traverse the mucosal barrier. Devising a method to rapidly reverse fibril formation (rather than simply inhibit it) would provide an innovative and urgently needed preventative strategy for reducing HIV infection via the sexual route. Targeting a host-encoded protein conformer represents a departure from traditional microbicidal approaches that target the viral machinery, and could synergize with direct antiviral approaches. Here, we review the identification of these amyloidogenic peptides, their mechanism of action, and various strategies for inhibiting their HIV-enhancing effects.
Keywords: SEVI; amyloid; HIV infectivity; PAP85-120; SEM1; SEM2; microbicide SEVI; amyloid; HIV infectivity; PAP85-120; SEM1; SEM2; microbicide
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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MDPI and ACS Style

Castellano, L.M.; Shorter, J. The Surprising Role of Amyloid Fibrils in HIV Infection. Biology 2012, 1, 58-80.

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