UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Characterization and anti-HIV activity of the proprotein convertase-directed serine protease inhibitor, Spn4A Posarac, Vesna


HIV/AIDS is a global health problem of immense magnitude, with 33 million people living with HIV and 2 million AIDS-related deaths per year. As the development of drug resistance undermines treatment efficacy, the long-term success of anti-retroviral therapy depends upon the introduction of novel drugs aimed at additional targets essential for the viral life cycle. With a critical role in many viral diseases including the proteolytic maturation of the HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein gp160, the secretory pathway proprotein convertases (PCs) represent a potential anti-viral target. Our laboratory has reported the identification of Spn4A, a potent naturally occurring secretory pathway serine protease inhibitor directed at the prototype PC member, furin. Because of the requirement for the PCs in the production of infectious HIV-1, we hypothesized that strategic manipulation of PC activity by Spn4A and Spn4A-engineered variants would provide a means of effectively limiting HIV-1 infection. This thesis details the investigation of the anti-proteolytic activities and anti-HIV-1 properties of recombinant adenoviruses expressing Spn4A and Spn4A bio-engineered variants, including a secreted recombinant Spn4A (Spn4A S). Our data shows that the expression of Spn4A S in MAGI-CCR5 cells and furin-deficient LoVo cells inhibited the PC-dependent processing of the HIV-1 envelope precursor gp160. Furthermore, inhibition of processing resulted in a nearly complete reduction of productive HIV-1 infection as determined by HIV-1 Tat-driven β-galactosidase activity and multinuclear activation of a galactosidase indicator (MAGI) assays. Complementing the previously described anti-furin activity of Spn4A, our studies indicate that Spn4A S inhibits additional PCs involved in gp160 maturation, and that PC inhibition can serve as an effective means of limiting HIV-1 infection. With the central role of the PCs in the replication and pathogenesis of numerous infectious agents, the identification of Spn4A S as an efficacious HIV inhibitor establishes Spn4A as a prospective broad-based agent for the inhibition of PC-related diseases.

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