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J Biol Chem. 2012 Apr 6;287(15):11842-9. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.314336. Epub 2012 Feb 21.

Seminal plasma accelerates semen-derived enhancer of viral infection (SEVI) fibril formation by the prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP248-286) peptide.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry, Rochester, New York 14642, USA.


Amyloid fibrils contained in semen, known as SEVI, or semen-derived enhancer of viral infection, have been shown to increase the infectivity of HIV dramatically. However, previous work with these fibrils has suggested that extensive time and nonphysiologic levels of agitation are necessary to induce amyloid formation from the precursor peptide (a proteolytic cleavage product of prostatic acid phosphatase, PAP(248-286)). Here, we show that fibril formation by PAP(248-286) is accelerated dramatically in the presence of seminal plasma (SP) and that agitation is not required for fibrillization in this setting. Analysis of the effects of specific SP components on fibril formation by PAP(248-286) revealed that this effect is primarily due to the anionic buffer components of SP (notably inorganic phosphate and sodium bicarbonate). Divalent cations present in SP had little effect on the kinetics of fibril formation, but physiologic levels of Zn(2+) strongly protected SEVI fibrils from degradation by seminal proteases. Taken together, these data suggest that in the in vivo environment, PAP(248-286) is likely to form fibrils efficiently, thus providing an explanation for the presence of SEVI in human semen.

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