P2X-selective purinergic antagonists are strong inhibitors of HIV-1 fusion during both cell-to-cell and cell-free infection

Talia H. Swartz, Anthony M. Esposito, Natasha D. Durham, Boris M. Hartmann, Benjamin K. Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection is chronic and presently still incurable. Antiretroviral drugs effectively suppress replication; however, persistent activation of inflammatory pathways remains a key cause of morbidity. Recent studies proposed that purinergic signaling is required for HIV-1 infection. Purinergic receptors are distributed throughout a wide variety of tissue types and detect extracellular ATP as a danger signal released from dying cells. We have explored how these pathways are involved in the transmission of HIV-1 from cell to cell through virological synapses. Infection of CD4+ T lymphocytes with HIV-1 in the presence of an inhibitor of P2X receptors effectively inhibited HIV-1 infection through both cell-free and cellto- cell contact in a dose-dependent manner. Inhibition of direct cell-to-cell infection did not affect the formation of virological synapses or the subsequent cell-to-cell transfer of HIV-1. During both cell-free and cell-to-cell CD4+ T lymphocyte infection, purinergic antagonists blocked infection at the level of viral membrane fusion. During cell-to-cell transmission, we observed CXCR4 colocalization with the newly internalized virus particles within target lymphocytes and found that the purinergic antagonists did not impair the recruitment of the coreceptor CXCR4 to the site of Gag internalization in the target cell. In a screen of a library of purinergic antagonists, we found that the most potent inhibitors of HIV-1 fusion were those that target P2X receptors, while P2Y-selective receptor antagonists or adenosine receptor antagonists were ineffective. Our results suggest that P2X receptors may provide a therapeutic target and that purinergic antagonists may have potent activity against viral infection of CD4+ T lymphocytes by both cell-free and cell-to-cell transmission.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11504-11515
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number19
StatePublished - 2014


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