The development of a topical microbicide blocking the sexual transmission of HIV-1 is urgently needed to control the global HIV/AIDS pandemic. The actinomycete-derived lectin actinohivin (AH) is highly specific to a cluster of high-mannose-type glycans uniquely found on the viral envelope (Env). Here, we evaluated AH's candidacy toward a microbicide in terms of in vitro anti-HIV-1 activity, potential side effects, and recombinant producibility. Two validated assay systems based on human peripheral blood mononuclear cell (hPBMC) infection with primary isolates and TZM-bl cell infection with Env-pseudotyped viruses were employed to characterize AH's anti-HIV-1 activity. In hPMBCs, AH exhibited nanomolar neutralizing activity against primary viruses with diverse cellular tropisms, but did not cause mitogenicity or cytotoxicity that are often associated with other anti-HIV lectins. In the TZM-bl-based assay, AH showed broad anti-HIV-1 activity against clinically-relevant, mucosally transmitting strains of clades B and C. By contrast, clade A viruses showed strong resistance to AH. Correlation analysis suggested that HIV-1′s AH susceptibility is significantly linked to the N-glycans at the Env C2 and V4 regions. For recombinant (r)AH expression, we evaluated a tobacco mosaic virus-based system in Nicotiana benthamiana plants as a means to facilitate molecular engineering and cost-effective mass production. Biochemical analysis and an Env-mediated syncytium formation assay demonstrated high-level expression of functional rAH within six days. Taken together, our study revealed AH's cross-clade anti-HIV-1 activity, apparent lack of side effects common to lectins, and robust producibility using plant biotechnology. These findings justify further efforts to develop rAH toward a candidate HIV-1 microbicide.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)