Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Under the right conditions, peptide blocks HIV infection at multiple points along the way

Researchers: Findings about innate peptide may offer new avenue of research for combating HIV, other viruses

Human defensins, aptly named antimicrobial peptides, are made in immune system cells and epithelial cells (such as skin cells and cells that line the gut). One of these peptides, human neutrophil peptide 1, under certain circumstances hinders HIV infection, but exactly how it works remains unclear.

HIV entry into mature T-helper cells (cells essential to the immune system) proceeds by attachment of the virus to specific targets on T-helper cells, uptake of the virus, fusion of its envelope with the cell membranes, and release of the virus into the cells. In a forthcoming Journal of Biological Chemistry Paper of the Week, Gregory Melikyan at Emory University and colleagues investigated the ability of human neutrophil peptide 1 to impede each step of this process.

Using model cell lines, Melikyan's group showed that human neutrophil peptide 1 effectively prevented HIV entry into cells in multiple ways. First, human neutrophil peptide 1 reduced the number of specific targets on the cells available for HIV attachment. Second, this defensin also bound to specific targets on both the HIV envelope and the cells, preventing early and late stages of HIV-cell fusion. Finally, human neutrophil peptide 1 prevented HIV uptake into the cells without compromising the general ability of the cells to engulf other molecules.

While human neutrophil peptide 1 hinders HIV entry into cells under these lab conditions, it does not do so as effectively in the presence of serum -- meaning that it may not be as successful at blocking HIV in our bodies. But Melikyan's team showed that human neutrophil peptide 1 remained attached to its specific targets in the presence of serum, despite its reduced efficacy. Their work suggests that the structure of human neutrophil peptide 1 is important for its anti-HIV activity, and they propose that serum may interfere with the ability of this defensin to form complexes, reducing its ability to block HIV.

"Our work provides new insights into the ability of defensins to recognize and neutralize diverse pathogens, including HIV," Melikyan says. This research reveals that human neutrophil peptide 1 can bind various viral and cellular targets and that a previously unappreciated feature is essential for its anti-HIV activity, possibly its propensity to form large complexes, Melikyan explains.

The team's findings suggest a new avenue of research for combatting HIV and viruses that infiltrate cells in a similar manner.

From the article: "Multifaceted mechanisms of HIV-1 entry inhibition by human alpha-defensin" by Lusine H. Demirkhanyan, Mariana Marin, Sergi Padilla-Parra, Changyou Zhan, Kosuke Miyauchi, Maikha Jean-Baptiste, Gennadiy Novitskiy, Wuyuan Lu, and Gregory B. Melikyan (to be published in the Aug. 17 issue of the Journal of Biological Chemistry and currently online as a Paper in Press at

Corresponding author: Gregory B. Melikyan, Department of Pediatrics Infectious Diseases, Emory University in Atlanta, GA, USA; email:

Written by Danielle Gutierrez

Angela Hopp | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht International team discovers novel Alzheimer's disease risk gene among Icelanders
24.10.2016 | Baylor College of Medicine

nachricht New bacteria groups, and stunning diversity, discovered underground
24.10.2016 | DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

New method increases energy density in lithium batteries

24.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

International team discovers novel Alzheimer's disease risk gene among Icelanders

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

New bacteria groups, and stunning diversity, discovered underground

24.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>