Chemokine G protein coupled receptors, principally CCR5 or CXCR4, function as co-receptors for HIV-1 entry into CD4+ T cells. Initial binding of the viral envelope glycoprotein (Env) gp120 subunit to the host CD4 receptor induces a cascade of structural conformational changes that lead to the formation of a high-affinity co-receptor-binding site on gp120. Interaction between gp120 and the co-receptor leads to the exposure of epitopes on the viral gp41 that mediates fusion between viral and cell membranes. Soluble CD4 (sCD4) mimetics can act as an activation-based inhibitor of HIV-1 entry in vitro, as it induces similar structural changes in gp120, leading to increased virus infectivity in the short term but to virus Env inactivation in the long term. Despite promising clinical implications, sCD4 displays low efficiency in vivo, and in multiple HIV strains, it does not inhibit viral infection. This has been attributed to the slow kinetics of the sCD4-induced HIV Env inactivation and to the failure to obtain sufficient sCD4 mimetic levels in the serum. Here we present uniquely structured CCR5 co-receptor mimetics. We hypothesized that such mimetics will enhance sCD4-induced HIV Env inactivation and inhibition of HIV entry. Co-receptor mimetics were derived from CCR5 gp120-binding epitopes and functionalized with a palmitoyl group, which mediated their display on the surface of lipid-coated magnetic beads. CCR5-peptidoliposome mimetics bound to soluble gp120 and inhibited HIV-1 infectivity in a sCD4-dependent manner. We concluded that CCR5-peptidoliposomes increase the efficiency of sCD4 to inhibit HIV infection by acting as bait for sCD4-primed virus, catalyzing the premature discharge of its fusion potential.
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