Transmitted/founder and chronic HIV-1 envelope proteins are distinguished by differential utilization of CCR5

J Virol. 2013 Mar;87(5):2401-11. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02964-12. Epub 2012 Dec 26.


Infection by HIV-1 most often results from the successful transmission and propagation of a single virus variant, termed the transmitted/founder (T/F) virus. Here, we compared the attachment and entry properties of envelope (Env) glycoproteins from T/F and chronic control (CC) viruses. Using a panel of 40 T/F and 47 CC Envs, all derived by single genome amplification, we found that 52% of clade C and B CC Envs exhibited partial resistance to the CCR5 antagonist maraviroc (MVC) on cells expressing high levels of CCR5, while only 15% of T/F Envs exhibited this same property. Moreover, subtle differences in the magnitude with which MVC inhibited infection on cells expressing low levels of CCR5, including primary CD4(+) T cells, were highly predictive of MVC resistance when CCR5 expression levels were high. These results are consistent with previous observations showing a greater sensitivity of T/F Envs to MVC inhibition on cells expressing very high levels of CCR5 and indicate that CC Envs are often capable of recognizing MVC-bound CCR5, albeit inefficiently on cells expressing physiologic levels of CCR5. When CCR5 expression levels are high, this phenotype becomes readily detectable. The utilization of drug-bound CCR5 conformations by many CC Envs was seen with other CCR5 antagonists, with replication-competent viruses, and did not obviously correlate with other phenotypic traits. The striking ability of clade C and B CC Envs to use MVC-bound CCR5 relative to T/F Envs argues that the more promiscuous use of CCR5 by these Env proteins is selected against at the level of virus transmission and is selected for during chronic infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • CCR5 Receptor Antagonists
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • CD4-Positive T-Lymphocytes / virology
  • Cell Line
  • Cyclohexanes / pharmacology*
  • HEK293 Cells
  • HIV Infections / immunology
  • HIV Infections / metabolism
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • HIV-1 / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Maraviroc
  • Receptors, CCR5 / metabolism*
  • Triazoles / pharmacology*
  • Virus Attachment
  • Virus Internalization
  • env Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus / immunology*
  • env Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus / metabolism*


  • CCR5 Receptor Antagonists
  • Cyclohexanes
  • Receptors, CCR5
  • Triazoles
  • env Gene Products, Human Immunodeficiency Virus
  • Maraviroc