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Cyclic and Acyclic Defensins Inhibit Human Immunodeficiency Virus Type-1 Replication by Different Mechanisms

  • Author(s): Seidel, Aprille;
  • Ye, Ying;
  • de Armas, Lesley R.;
  • Soto, Maira;
  • Yarosh, William;
  • Marcsisin, Renee A.;
  • Tran, Dat;
  • Selsted, Michael E.;
  • Camerini, David
  • et al.
Creative Commons 'BY' version 4.0 license

Defensins are antimicrobial peptides expressed by plants and animals. In mammals there are three subfamilies of defensins, distinguished by structural features: α, β and θ. Alpha and β-defensins are linear peptides with broad anti-microbial activity that are expressed by many mammals including humans. In contrast, θ-defensins are cyclic anti-microbial peptides made by several non-human primates but not humans. All three defensin types have anti-HIV-1 activity, but their mechanisms of action differ. We studied the anti-HIV-1 activity of one defensin from each group, HNP-1 (α), HBD-2 (β) and RTD-1 (θ). We examined how each defensin affected HIV-1 infection and demonstrated that the cyclic defensin RTD-1 inhibited HIV-1 entry, while acyclic HNP-1 and HBD-2 inhibited HIV-1 replication even when added 12 hours post-infection and blocked viral replication after HIV-1 cDNA formation. We further found that all three defensins downmodulated CXCR4. Moreover, RTD-1 inactivated X4 HIV-1, while HNP-1 and HBD-2 inactivated both X4 and R5 HIV-1. The data presented here show that acyclic and cyclic defensins block HIV-1 replication by shared and diverse mechanisms. Moreover, we found that HNP-1 and RTD-1 directly inhibited firefly luciferase enzymatic activity, which may affect the interpretation of previously published data.

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