Inhibition of recombinant human immunodeficiency virus type 1 replication by a site-specific recombinase

C. Clay Flowers, Clive Woffendin, Jerzy Petryniak, Shiaolan Yang, Gary J. Nabel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Current molecular genetic strategies to inhibit productive human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) replication have involved the generation of gene products which provide intracellular inhibition of essential virally encoded proteins or RNA structures. A molecular strategy to excise proviral DNA from HIV-1-infected cells and render these cells virus free would provide an attractive direct antiviral strategy, providing a mechanism to remove viral genes from infected cells. The potential of such a molecular genetic intervention was examined by using the Cre-loxP recombination system. A recombinant HIV-1 clone, designated HIV(lox), that contains loxP within a nonessential U3 region of the long terminal repeats was synthesized. The loxP motif was maintained during replication of HIV(lox) in CEM cells, as demonstrated by reverse transcriptase PCR analyses of genomic RNA isolated from virions. Two different types of HIV-1-permissive cells, CEM cells and 293 cells expressing the CD4 glycoprotein, were transformed with a Cre expression vector which was shown to encode Cre DNA binding and recombinase activities. HIV(lox) infection of CEM or CD4+ 293 cells expressing Cre resulted in a substantial reduction in virus replication compared to control cells, and evidence for the presence of the expected excision product was found. Site-specific excision of HIV-1 can therefore be achieved by using this model system with acute infection. These studies represent one step toward the development of a novel antiviral strategy for the treatment of AIDS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2685-2692
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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