Characterizing the anti-HIV-1 activity of novel B-defensins

Maira Soto, University of California, Irvine
Molecular Biology

Previous studies have shown that several human defensins show activity against bacteria, fungi and both non-enveloped and enveloped viruses including HIV-1. Because of their anti-microbial properties and because they are expressed at mucosal surfaces which and are exposed to pathogens, defensins are an important component of innate immunity and are exposed to pathogens. Recent bioinformatic searches have uncovered 28 novel human β-defensin genes. Only a few of these genes, however, have been shown to produce defensins in vivo or have been used to produce defensins in the laboratory. We hypothesize that some or all of these un- characterized b-defensins have potent anti-HIV activity. In order to understand the role of b- defensins in innate immunity to HIV-1 and their potential as AIDS therapeutics, we will determine which defensins exhibit the greatest anti-HIV activity and characterize their mechanisms of action.