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J Virol. 2005 Apr;79(8):4991-9.

Enfuvirtide resistance mutations: impact on human immunodeficiency virus envelope function, entry inhibitor sensitivity, and virus neutralization.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, University of Pennsylvania, 225 Johnson Pavilion, 3610 Hamilton Walk, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.


Enfuvirtide (ENF/T-20/Fuzeon), the first human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) entry inhibitor to be licensed, targets a structural intermediate of the entry process. ENF binds the HR1 domain in gp41 after Env has bound CD4, preventing conformational changes needed for membrane fusion. Mutations in HR1 that confer ENF resistance can arise following ENF therapy. ENF resistance mutations were introduced into an R5- and X4-tropic Env to examine their impact on fusion, infection, and sensitivity to different classes of entry inhibitors and neutralizing antibodies. HR1 mutations could reduce infection and fusion efficiency and also delay fusion kinetics, likely accounting for their negative impact on viral fitness. HR1 mutations had minimal effect on virus sensitivity to other classes of entry inhibitors, including those targeting CD4 binding (BMS-806 and a CD4-specific monoclonal antibody [MAb]), coreceptor binding (CXCR4 inhibitor AMD3100 and CCR5 inhibitor TAK-779), or fusion (T-1249), indicating that ENF-resistant viruses can remain sensitive to other entry inhibitors in vivo. Some HR1 mutations conferred increased sensitivity to a subset of neutralizing MAbs that likely target fusion intermediates or with epitopes preferentially exposed following receptor interactions (17b, 48D, 2F5, 4E10, and IgGb12), as well as sera from some HIV-positive individuals. Mechanistically, enhanced neutralization correlated with reduced fusion kinetics, indicating that, in addition to steric constraints, kinetics may also limit virus neutralization by some antibodies. Therefore, escape from ENF comes at a cost to viral fitness and may confer enhanced sensitivity to humoral immunity due to prolonged exposure of epitopes that are not readily accessible in the native Env trimer. Resistance to other entry inhibitors was not observed.

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