Siglecs facilitate HIV-1 infection of macrophages through adhesion with viral sialic acids

Zhongcheng Zou, Ashley Chastain, Susan Moir, Jennifer Ford, Kathryn Trandem, Elena Martinelli, Claudia Cicala, Paul Crocker, James Arthos, Peter D. Sun

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


Background: Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infects macrophages effectively, despite relatively low levels of cell surface-expressed CD4. Although HIV-1 infections are defined by viral tropisms according to chemokine receptor usage (R5 and X4), variations in infection are common within both R5- and X4-tropic viruses, indicating additional factors may contribute to viral tropism. Methodology and Principal Findings: Using both solution and cell surface binding experiments, we showed that R5- and X4-tropic HIV-1 gp120 proteins recognized a family of I-type lectin receptors, the Sialic acid-binding immunoglobulin-like lectins (Siglec). The recognition was through envelope-associated sialic acids that promoted viral adhesion to macrophages. The sialic acid-mediated viral-host interaction facilitated both R5-tropic pseudovirus and HIV-1 BaL infection of macrophages. The high affinity Siglec-1 contributed the most to HIV-1 infection and the variation in Siglec-1 expression on primary macrophages from different donors was associated statistically with sialic acid-facilitated viral infection. Furthermore, envelope-associated sialoglycan variations on various strains of R5-tropic viruses also affected infection. Conclusions and Significance of the Findings: Our study showed that sialic acids on the viral envelope facilitated HIV-1 infection of macrophages through interacting with Siglec receptors, and the expression of Siglec-1 correlated with viral sialic acid-mediated host attachment. This glycan-mediated viral adhesion underscores the importance of viral sialic acids in HIV infection and pathogenesis, and suggests a novel class of antiviral compounds targeting Siglec receptors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere24559
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 8 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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