α-Defensins are abundant antimicrobial peptides in polymorphonuclear leukocytes and play an important role in innate immunity. We have previously shown that α-defensin-1 can inhibit HIV-1 replication following viral entry. Here we examined the molecular mechanism(s) of α-defensin-1–mediated HIV-1 inhibition. α-Defensin-1 had a direct effect on HIV-1 virions at a low MOI in the absence of serum. The direct effect on HIV-1 virions was abolished by the presence of serum or an increase in virus particles. Studying the kinetics of the HIV life cycle revealed that α-defensin-1 inhibited steps following reverse transcription and integration. Analysis of PKC phosphorylation in primary CD4+ T cells in response to α-defensin-1 indicated that α-defensin-1 inhibited PKC activity. Pretreatment of infected CD4+ T cells with a PKC activator, bryostatin 1, partially reversed α-defensin-1–mediated HIV inhibition. Like α-defensin-1, the PKC isoform–selective inhibitor Go6976 blocked HIV-1 infection in a dose-dependent manner. Furthermore, kinetic studies and analysis of HIV-1 products indicated that α-defensin-1 and Go6976 blocked HIV-1 infection at similar stages in its life cycle, including nuclear import and transcription. Taken together, our studies demonstrate that, in the absence of serum, α-defensin-1 may act directly on the virus, but, in the presence of serum, its effects are on the cell, where it inhibits HIV-1 replication. At least 1 of the cellular effects associated with HIV inhibition is interference with PKC signaling in primary CD4+ T cells. Studying the complex function of α-defensin-1 in innate immunity against HIV has implications for prevention as well as therapeutics.
Theresa L. Chang, Jesus Vargas Jr., Armando DelPortillo, Mary E. Klotman
Guidelines: The Editorial Board will only consider letters that we deem relevant and of interest to our readers. We will not post data that have not been subjected to peer review, nor will we post letters that are essentially a reiteration of another letter. We reserve the right to edit any letter for length, content, and clarity. Authors will be notified by e-mail if their letters were accepted. No appeals will be considered.
Specific requirements: All letters must be 400 words or fewer. You may enter the letter as plain text or HTML. The author's name and e-mail address are required, and will be posted with the letter. All possible conflicts of interest must be noted, even if they are not posted. If you wish to include a figure (keep in mind that non-peer-reviewed data will not be posted), please contact the editors directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.