Enhancement of CD4 Binding, Host Cell Entry, and Sensitivity to CD4bs Antibody Inhibition Conferred by a Natural but Rare Polymorphism in the HIV-1 Envelope

Annette N Ratcliff, Colin M Venner, Abayomi S Olabode, Jason Knapp, Joshua Pankrac, Iulian Derecichei, Richard M Gibson, Andrés Finzi, Yue Li, Jamie F S Mann, Eric J Arts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


A rare but natural polymorphism in the HIV-1 envelope (Env) glycoprotein, lysine at position 425 was selected as a mutation conferring resistance to maraviroc (MVC) in vitro. N425K has not been identified in HIV-infected individuals failing an MVC-based treatment. This study reports that the rare K425 polymorphism in an HIV-1 subtype A Env has increased affinity for CD4, resulting in faster host cell entry kinetics and the ability to scavenge for low cell surface expression of CD4 to mediate entry. Whereas the subtype A wild-type isolate-74 Env (N425) is inhibited by soluble (s) CD4, HIV-1 with K425 A74 Env shows enhanced infection and the ability to infect CCR5+ cells when pretreated with sCD4. Upon adding K425 or N425 HIV-1 to CD4+/CCR5+ cells along with RANTES/CCL3, only K425 HIV-1 was able to infect cells when CCR5 recycled/returned to the cell surface at 12 h post-treatment. These findings suggest that upon binding to CD4, K425 Env may maintain a stable State 2 "open" conformation capable of engaging CCR5 for entry. Only K425 was significantly more sensitivity than wild-type N425 A74 to inhibition by the CD4 binding site (bs) compound, BMS-806, the CD4bs antibody, VRC01 and N6, and the single-chain CD4i antibody, SCm9. K425 A74 was also capable of activating B cells expressing the VRC01 surface immunoglobulin. In summary, despite increased replicative fitness, we propose that K425 HIV-1 may be counterselected within infected individuals if K425 HIV-1 is rapidly eliminated by CD4bs-neutralizing antibodies. IMPORTANCE Typically, a natural amino acid polymorphism is found as the wild-type sequence in the HIV-1 population if it provides a selective advantage to the virus. The natural K425 polymorphism in HIV-1 Env results in higher host cell entry efficiency and greater replicative fitness by virtue of its high binding affinity to CD4. The studies presented herein suggest that the rare K425 HIV-1, compared to the common N425 HIV-1, may be more sensitive to inhibition by CD4bs-neutralizing antibodies (i.e., antibodies that bind to the CD4 binding pocket on the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein). If CD4bs antibodies did emerge in an infected individual, the K425 HIV-1 may be hypersensitive to inhibition, and thus this K425 virus variant may be removed from the HIV-1 swarm despite its higher replication fitness. Studies are now underway to determine whether addition of the K425 polymorphism into the Envelope-based HIV-1 vaccines could enhance protective immunity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e0185121
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number14
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2022


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing/metabolism
  • Binding Sites
  • CD4 Antigens/metabolism
  • Drug Resistance, Viral/genetics
  • HIV Antibodies/metabolism
  • HIV Envelope Protein gp120/genetics
  • HIV-1/drug effects
  • Humans
  • Maraviroc/pharmacology
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Protein Binding
  • Virus Internalization


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