A synthetic globotriaosylceramide analogue inhibits HIV-1 infection in vitro by two mechanisms

Glycoconj J. 2010 Jul;27(5):515-24. doi: 10.1007/s10719-010-9297-y. Epub 2010 Jun 26.


Previously, it was shown that the cell-membrane-expressed glycosphingolipid, globotriaosylceramide (Gb(3)/P(k)/CD77), protects against HIV-1 infection and may be a newly described natural resistance factor against HIV infection. We have now investigated the potential of a novel, water soluble, non-toxic and completely synthetic analogue of Gb(3)/P(k) (FSL-Gb(3)) to inhibit HIV-1 infection in vitro. A uniquely designed analogue, FSL-Gb(3), of the natural Gb(3)/P(k) molecule was synthesized. HIV-1(IIIB) (X4 virus) and HIV-1(Ba-L) (R5 virus) infection of PHA/interleukin-2-activated, peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and Jurkat T cells in vitro was assessed, as well as infection of U87.CD4.CCR5 by various clinical R5 tropic viruses after treatment with FSL-Gb(3). We monitored Gb(3), CD4 and CXCR4 expression by fluorescent antibody cell sorting and viral replication by p24(gag) ELISA. Total cellular Gb(3) was examined by glycosphingolipid extraction and thin layer chromatography. In vivo toxicity was monitored in mice by histological assessment of vital organs and lymphoid tissue. FSL-Gb(3) blocked X4 and R5 of both lab and clinical viral strains in activated PBMCs or the U87.CD4.CCR5 cell line with a 50% inhibitory concentration (IC(50)) of approximately 200-250 microM. FACS and TLC overlay showed that FSL-Gb(3) can insert itself into cellular plasma membranes and that cellular membrane-absorbed FSL-Gb(3) is able to inhibit subsequent HIV-1 infection. There was no effect of FSL-Gb(3) on cell surface levels of CD4 or CXCR4. Thus, FSL-Gb(3) can inhibit HIV-1 by two mechanisms: direct inhibition of virus and inhibition of viral entry. Infusion of FSL-Gb(3) into laboratory mice at doses well in excess of theoretical therapeutic doses was tolerated with no untoward reactions. Our results demonstrate the potential utility of using a completely synthetic, water soluble globotriaosylceramide analogue, FSL-Gb(3), having low toxicity, for possible future use as a novel therapeutic approach for the systemic treatment of HIV/AIDS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-HIV Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-HIV Agents / pharmacology*
  • Carbohydrate Conformation
  • Carbohydrate Sequence
  • Cell Line
  • Glycolipids / chemistry
  • Glycolipids / pharmacology*
  • HIV-1 / drug effects*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Trihexosylceramides / chemistry
  • Virus Replication / drug effects


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • Glycolipids
  • Trihexosylceramides
  • globotriaosylceramide