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The dual role of tetraspanin CD63 in HIV-1 replication

Guangyu Li1, Mark A Endsley1, Anoma Somasunderam1, Sonia L Gbota1, Maryann I Mbaka1, James L Murray2 and Monique R Ferguson1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, School of Medicine, University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, Texas 77555-0435, USA

2 GeneTAG Technology, Inc, 3155 Northwoods Place, Norcross, GA 30071, USA

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Virology Journal 2014, 11:23  doi:10.1186/1743-422X-11-23

Published: 8 February 2014



Previously, we showed that the tetraspanin membrane protein CD63 mediates both early and post-integration stages of the HIV-1 replication cycle. The temporal roles of CD63 were discerned using monoclonal antibodies and small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) to block CD63 function, and determining which of the sequential steps in HIV-1 replication were disrupted. Inhibition was shown to occur during early infection, suggestive of involvement in virus entry or reverse transcription. In addition, we have shown that treatment with CD63 siRNA post-infection, significantly inhibited virus production in supernatant, suggesting an important role for CD63 in macrophages during HIV-1 replication events occurring after proviral integration, and possibly during egress.


In this study we used CD63 siRNA to investigate the infectivity of pseudotyped viruses (carrying an NL4-3 Env-negative luciferase backbone) in primary human macrophages. We demonstrated that lab adapted R5- and R5X4-tropic HIV-1 strains are significantly inhibited by CD63 silencing. However, the infectivity of MLV or VSV-pseudotyped strains, which enter though receptor-mediated endocytosis, is unaffected by silencing CD63. These results indicate that CD63 may support Env-mediated entry or fusion events facilitated though CD4 and CCR5. Also, antibody and siRNA-based CD63 inhibition studies indicate a potential role for CD63 following proviral integration. Further, we show that CD63 expression is key for efficient replication in primary CD4+ T cells, complementing our prior studies with primary human macrophages and immortalized cell lines.


Collectively, these findings indicate that CD63 may support Env-mediated fusion as well as a late (post-integration) step in the HIV-1 replication cycle.

HIV-1 replication cycle; Tetraspanin CD63; CD4+ T cells; Macrophages