Specific Enfuvirtide-Associated Mutational Pathways in HIV-1 Gp41 Are Significantly Correlated With an Increase in CD4+ Cell Count, Despite Virological Failure

Svicher, Valentina; Stefano Aquaro; D'Arrigo, Roberta; Artese, Anna; Dimonte, Salvatore; Alcaro, Stefano; Santoro, Maria Mercedes; Di Perri, Giovanni; Caputo, Sergio Lo; Bellagamba, Rita; Zaccarelli, Mauro; Visco-Comandini, Ubaldo; Antinori, Andrea; Narciso, Pasquale; Ceccherini-Silberstein, Francesca; Perno, Carlo-Federico
May 2008
Journal of Infectious Diseases;5/15/2008, Vol. 197 Issue 10, p1408
Academic Journal
Background. Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) gp41 is a crucial determinant for HIV-1 pathogenicity. We investigated the correlation of enfuvirtide (ENF)-associated gp41 mutational clusters with viroimmunological parameters, as well as the potential underlying mechanisms. Methods. A total of 172 gp41 sequences and clinical follow-up data from 73 ENF-treated patients were analyzed monthly, from baseline to week 48. Results. There were 7 novel gp41 mutations positively associated with ENF treatment and correlated with classic ENF mutations. The ENF-associated clusters V38A + N140I and V38A + T18A significantly correlated with an increase in CD4 cell count at week 48 ( an increase from baseline of 112 and 209 cells/μL, respectively), whereas Q40H + L45M + T268A significantly correlated with a decrease in CD4 cell count (-53 cells/μL), without a change in the level of viremia. Residues 38 and 18 are located complementarily to each other in the Rev-responsive element, whereas analysis of molecular dynamics showed that the copresence of V38A + N140I abolishes the interaction between residue 38 and 145 important for stabilization of the 6-helix bundle. In contrast, T268A localizes in the gp41 calmodulin-binding domain responsible for gp41-induced CD4+ T lymphocyte apoptosis. Conclusion. Specific gp41 mutational clusters associated with ENF treatment significantly correlate with increases in CD4+ cell count. Structural analysis suggests that this immunological gain is associated with mechanisms that act at both the protein level and the RNA level (even under conditions of virological failure). This result may help in the selection of patients who can benefit most from ENF treatment and represents a driving force for the design of the next generation of entry inhibitors.


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