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Virology. 2006 Feb 5;345(1):115-26. Epub 2005 Nov 4.

Selective elimination of HIV-1-infected cells by Env-directed, HIV-1-based virus-like particles.

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AIDS Center, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Viale Regina Elena, 299, 00161 Rome, Italy.


We recently showed that both replicating and resting cells cultivated with ganciclovir (GCV) were killed when challenged with vesicular stomatitis virus G glycoprotein pseudotyped HIV-1-based virus-like particles (VLPs) carrying the Nef7 (i.e., an HIV-1 Nef mutant incorporating in virions at high levels)/herpes simplex virus-1 thymidine kinase (HSV-TK) fusion product. On this basis, a novel anti-HIV therapeutic approach based on Nef7/TK VLPs expressing X4 or R5 HIV cell receptor complexes has been attempted. We here report that (CD4-CXCR4) and (CD4-CCR5) Nef7-based VLPs efficiently enter cells infected by X4- or R5-tropic HIV-1 strains, respectively. Importantly, the delivery of the VLP-associated Nef7/TK led to cell death upon GCV treatment. Of interest, VLPs were effective also against non-replicating, HIV-1-infected primary human monocyte-derived macrophages. HIV-targeted VLPs represent a promising candidate for the treatment of persistently HIV-1-infected cells that are part of virus reservoirs resistant to HAART therapies.

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