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Semen Protein Enhances HIV Infection

Forms fibrils that promote capture and attachment of HIV virions

MONDAY, Dec. 17 (HealthDay News) -- An abundant protein found in human semen dramatically enhances HIV infection by forming fibrils that promote the capture and attachment of HIV virions to target cells, according to study findings published in the Dec. 14 issue of Cell.

Jan Munch, from the University Clinic of Ulm in Germany, and colleagues screened a complex peptide/protein library derived from human seminal fluid for factors influencing HIV infection.

The researchers found that fragments of the abundant semen protein prostatic acidic phosphatase (PAP) formed amyloid fibrils. The fibrils increased the HIV titer by several orders of magnitude by capturing HIV virions and promoting their attachment to target cells. This drastically enhanced HIV infection of T cells, macrophages, ex vivo human tonsillar tissues, transgenic rats, and infection of T cells by infected dendritic or epithelial cells.

"Amyloidogenic PAP fragments are abundant in seminal fluid and boost semen-mediated enhancement of HIV infection," Munch and colleagues conclude. "Thus, they may play an important role in sexual transmission of HIV and could represent new targets for its prevention."

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