Protein design of a bacterially expressed HIV-1 gp41 fusion inhibitor

Yiqun Deng, Qi Zheng, Thomas J. Ketas, John P. Moore, Min Lu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Peptides derived from the carboxyl-terminal heptad repeat of the gp41 envelope glycoprotein ectodomain (C-peptides) can inhibit HIV-1 membrane fusion by binding to the amino-terminal trimeric coiled coil of the same protein. The fusion inhibitory peptide T-20 contains an additional tryptophan-rich sequence motif whose binding site extends beyond the gp41 coiled-coil region yet provides the key determinant of inhibitory activity in T-20. Here we report the design of a recombinant peptide inhibitor (called C52L) that includes both the C-peptide and tryptophan-rich regions. By calorimetry, C52L binds to a peptide mimic of the amino-terminal coiled coil with a Kd of 80 nM, reflecting the large degree of helicity in C52L as measured by circular dichroism spectroscopy. The C52L peptide potently inhibits in vitro infection of human T cells by diverse primary HIV-1 isolates irrespective of coreceptor preference, with nanomolar IC50 values. Significantly, C52L is fully active against T-20-resistant variants in a single-cycle HIV-1 infectivity assay. Moreover, because it can be expressed in bacteria, the C52L peptide might be more economical to manufacture on a large scale than T-20-like peptides produced by chemical synthesis. Hence the C52L fusion inhibitor may find a practical application, for example as a vaginal or rectal microbicide to prevent HIV-1 infection in the developing world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4360-4369
Number of pages10
Issue number14
StatePublished - Apr 10 2007
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry


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