Neisseria gonorrhoeae-induced human defensins 5 and 6 increase HIV infectivity: role in enhanced transmission.
Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) increase the likelihood of HIV transmission. Defensins are part of the innate mucosal immune response to STIs and therefore we investigated their role in HIV infection. We found that human defensins 5 and 6 (HD5 and HD6) promoted HIV infection, and this effect was primarily during viral entry. Enhancement was seen with primary viral isolates in primary CD4(+) T cells and the effect was more pronounced with R5 virus compared with X4 virus. HD5 and HD6 promoted HIV reporter viruses pseudotyped with vesicular stomatitis virus and murine leukemia virus envelopes, indicating that defensin-mediated enhancement was not dependent on CD4 and coreceptors. Enhancement of HIV by HD5 and HD6 was influenced by the structure of the peptides, as loss of the intramolecular cysteine bonds was associated with loss of the HIV-enhancing effect. Pro-HD5, the precursor and intracellular form of HD5, also exhibited HIV-enhancing effect. Using a cervicovaginal tissue culture system, we found that expression of HD5 and HD6 was induced in response to Neisseria gonorrhoeae (GC, for gonococcus) infection and that conditioned medium from GC-exposed cervicovaginal epithelial cells with elevated levels of HD5 also enhanced HIV infection. Introduction of small interfering RNAs for HD5 or HD6 abolished the HIV-enhancing effect mediated by GC. Thus, the induction of these defensins in the mucosa in the setting of GC infection could facilitate HIV infection. Furthermore, this study demonstrates the complexity of defensins as innate immune mediators in HIV transmission and warrants further investigation of the mechanism by which defensins modulate HIV infection.
Klotman, ME; Rapista, A; Teleshova, N; Micsenyi, A; Jarvis, GA; Lu, W; Porter, E; Chang, TL
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