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CCR5 as Target for HIV-1 Gene Therapy

[ Vol. 8 , Issue. 4 ]


Reza Nazari and Sadhna Joshi   Pages 264 - 272 ( 9 )


Acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) is caused by a lentivirus, human immunodeficiency virus type- 1 (HIV-1). Viral entry is mediated by specific interaction of the viral envelope (Env) glycoprotein with a cell surface molecule CD4 which serves as the primary receptor and a chemokine (C-C or C-X-C motif) receptor CCR5 or CXCR4 which serves as a co-receptor. The viral Env, the cellular CD4 receptor, or the CCR5/CXCR4 co-receptors may be the targets of therapeutic interventions. Compared to the high variability of the viral Env protein, lack of variability in the CD4 receptor and the CCR5 or CXCR4 co-receptor makes them better targets to prevent viral entry. Downregulation of CD4 or CXCR4 is likely to have harmful consequences for the immune function or cellular maturation and homing. In contrast, individuals who lack functional CCR5 have no apparent immune defects, and show decreased susceptibility to HIV-1 infection and delayed progression to AIDS. CCR5 is essential for HIV-1 infection through all routes of transmission. Therefore, its downregulation may not only prevent disease progression, but also the spread of HIV-1 transmission. To block CCR5 function, a number of molecules were developed, including low molecular weight compounds, chemokines, Nterminally – modified chemokine analogues, chemokine-derived molecules, chemokine-based synthetic peptides, and anti- CCR5 monoclonal antibodies. Gene therapy strategies were developed using intrakines and intrabodies to prevent cell surface expression of CCR5 and zinc finger-nucleases, or using small interfering RNAs, antisense RNAs, or ribozymes to decrease co-receptor synthesis. This review describes the importance of targeting CCR5 and summarizes the status of various anti-CCR5 gene therapy strategies.


AIDS, CCR5, gene therapy, HIV, prevention, transmission


Department of Molecular Genetics,Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, 150 College St., Room Ô, Toronto, Ontario, M5S 3E2, Canada.

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