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PLoS One. 2010 Apr 28;5(4):e10366. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0010366.

Development of an HIV-1 specific microbicide using Caulobacter crescentus S-layer mediated display of CD4 and MIP1alpha.

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Microbiology and Immunology, The University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.


The development of alternative strategies to prevent HIV infection is a global public health priority. Initial efforts in anti-HIV microbicide development have met with poor success as the strategies have relied on a non-specific mechanism of action. Here, we report the development of a microbicide aimed at specifically blocking HIV entry by displaying molecular components of the HIV/host cell attachment complex on the surface of Caulobacter crescentus, a harmless aquatic bacterium. This bacterium can be readily manipulated to present heterologous proteins at high density on its surface by genetic insertion into its crystalline surface layer protein. In separate constructions, we generated bacteria displaying domain 1 of CD4 and MIP1alpha. Each moiety reacted with specific antibodies by Western immunoblot and immuno-fluorescence microscopy. Microbicide functionality was assessed using an HIV pseudotype virus assay system representing Clade B subtypes. Bacteria displaying MIP1alpha reduced infectivity by 35-78% depending on the specific subtype while CD4 display reduced infection by as much as 56%. Combinations of both constructs reduced infectivity by nearly 98%. We demonstrated that HIV infection could be inhibited using a strategy aimed at HIV-specific molecular interactions with Caulobacter surface protein display, and that sufficient protein folding and conformation could be mimicked to bind and block entry. Further, this is the first demonstration that Caulobacter surface protein display may be a useful approach to preventing HIV infection or other viruses as a microbicide. We propose that this harmless bacterium, which is inexpensive to produce and formulate, might be suitable for topical applications as a viable alternative in the search for effective microbicides to counteract the world wide incidence of HIV infection.

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