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Retrovirology. 2010 Jun 23;7:55. doi: 10.1186/1742-4690-7-55.

Semen-mediated enhancement of HIV infection is donor-dependent and correlates with the levels of SEVI.

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  • 1Institute of Molecular Virology, University Hospital Ulm, 89081 Ulm, Germany.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

HIV-1 is usually transmitted in the presence of semen. We have shown that semen boosts HIV-1 infection and contains fragments of prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP) forming amyloid aggregates termed SEVI (semen-derived enhancer of viral infection) that promote virion attachment to target cells. Despite its importance for the global spread of HIV-1, however, the effect of semen on virus infection is controversial.

RESULTS:

Here, we established methods allowing the meaningful analysis of semen by minimizing its cytotoxic effects and partly recapitulating the conditions encountered during sexual HIV-1 transmission. We show that semen rapidly and effectively enhances the infectivity of HIV-1, HIV-2, and SIV. This enhancement occurs independently of the viral genotype and coreceptor tropism as well as the virus producer and target cell type. Semen-mediated enhancement of HIV-1 infection was also observed under acidic pH conditions and in the presence of vaginal fluid. We further show that the potency of semen in boosting HIV-1 infection is donor dependent and correlates with the levels of SEVI.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our results show that semen strongly enhances the infectivity of HIV-1 and other primate lentiviruses and that SEVI contributes to this effect. Thus, SEVI may play an important role in the sexual transmission of HIV-1 and addition of SEVI inhibitors to microbicides may improve their efficacy.

PMID:
20573198
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2914040
Free PMC Article
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