Enhancement of HIV-1 Infectivity by Simple, Self-Assembling Modular Peptides
Semen-derived enhancer of viral infection (SEVI), an amyloid fibril formed from a cationic peptide fragment of prostatic acidic phosphatase (PAP), dramatically enhances the infectivity of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). Insoluble, sedimentable fibrils contribute to SEVI-mediated enhancement of virus infection. However, the SEVI-forming PAP(248-286) peptide is able to produce infection-enhancing structures much more quickly than it forms amyloid fibrils. This suggests that soluble supramolecular assemblies may enhance HIV-1 infection. To address this question, non-SEVI amyloid-like fibrils were derived from general amphipathic peptides of sequence Ac-K(n)(XKXE)(2)-NH(2). These cationic peptides efficiently self-assembled to form soluble, fibril-like structures that were, in some cases, able to enhance HIV-1 infection even more efficiently than SEVI. Experiments were also performed to determine whether agents that efficiently shield the charged surface of SEVI fibrils block SEVI-mediated infection-enhancement. To do this, we generated self-assembling anionic peptides of sequence Ac-E(n)(XKXE)(2)-NH(2). One of these peptides completely abrogated SEVI-mediated enhancement of HIV-1 infection, without altering HIV-1 infectivity in the absence of SEVI. Collectively, these data suggest that soluble SEVI assemblies may mediate infection-enhancement, and that anionic peptide supramolecular assemblies have the potential to act as anti-SEVI microbicides.