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PLoS One. 2012;7(1):e30653. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0030653. Epub 2012 Jan 23.

The GB virus C (GBV-C) NS3 serine protease inhibits HIV-1 replication in a CD4+ T lymphocyte cell line without decreasing HIV receptor expression.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Internal Medicine, St. Louis University, St. Louis, Missouri, United States of America.



Persistent infection with GBV-C (GB Virus C), a non-pathogenic virus related to hepatitis C virus (HCV), prolongs survival in HIV infection. Two GBV-C proteins, NS5A and E2, have been shown previously to inhibit HIV replication in vitro. We investigated whether the GBV-C NS3 serine protease affects HIV replication.


GBV-C NS3 protease expressed in a human CD4+ T lymphocyte cell line significantly inhibited HIV replication. Addition of NS4A or NS4A/4B coding sequence to GBV-C NS3 increased the effect on HIV replication. Inhibition of HIV replication was dose-dependent and was not mediated by increased cell toxicity. Mutation of the NS3 catalytic serine to alanine resulted in loss of both HIV inhibition and protease activity. GBV-C NS3 expression did not measurably decrease CD4 or CXCR4 expression.


GBV-C NS3 serine protease significantly inhibited HIV replication without decreasing HIV receptor expression. The requirement for an intact catalytic serine at the active site indicates that inhibition was mediated by proteolytic cleavage of an unidentified target(s).

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