An immunomodulating motif of the HIV-1 fusion protein is chirality-independent: Implications for its mode of action

Omri Faingold, Avraham Ashkenazi, Nathali Kaushansky, Avraham Ben-Nun, Yechiel Shai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An immunosuppressive motif was recently found within the HIV-1 gp41 fusion protein (termed immunosuppressive loopassociated determinant core motif (ISLAD CM)). Peptides containing the motif interact with the T-cell receptor (TCR) complex; however, the mechanism by which the motif exerts its immunosuppressive activity is yet to be determined. Recent studies showed that interactions between protein domains in the membrane milieu are not always sterically controlled. Therefore, we utilized the unique membrane leniency toward association between D- and L-stereoisomers to investigate the detailed mechanism by which ISLAD CM inhibits T-cell activation. We show that a D-enantiomer of ISLAD CM (termed ISLAD D-CM) inhibited the proliferation of murine myelin oligodendrocyte glycoprotein (MOG)-(35-55)-specific line T-cells to the same extent as the L-motif form. Moreover, the D- and L-forms preferentially bound spleen-derived T-cells over B-cells by 13-fold. Furthermore, both forms of ISLAD CM co-localized with the TCR on activated T-cells and interacted with the transmembrane domain of the TCR. FRET experiments revealed the importance of basic residues for the interaction between ISLAD CM forms and the TCR transmembrane domain. Ex vivo studies demonstrated that ISLAD D-CMadministration inhibited the proliferation (72%) and proinflammatory cytokine secretion of pathogenic MOG(35-55)-specific T-cells. This study provides insights into the immunosuppressive mechanism of gp41 and demonstrates that chirality-independent interactions in the membrane can take place in diverse biological systems. A part from HIV pathogenesis, the D-peptide reported herein may serve as a potential tool for treating T-cell-mediated pathologies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32852-32860
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number46
StatePublished - 15 Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


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