APOBEC3G-Augmented Stem Cell Therapy to Modulate HIV Replication: A Computational Study
Mac Gabhann, Feilim
MetadataShow full item record
The interplay between the innate immune system restriction factor APOBEC3G and the HIV protein Vif is a key host-retrovirus interaction. APOBEC3G can counteract HIV infection in at least two ways: by inducing lethal mutations on the viral cDNA; and by blocking steps in reverse transcription and viral integration into the host genome. HIV-Vif blocks these antiviral functions of APOBEC3G by impeding its encapsulation. Nonetheless, it has been shown that overexpression of APOBEC3G, or interfering with APOBEC3G-Vif binding, can efficiently block in vitro HIV replication. Some clinical studies have also suggested that high levels of APOBEC3G expression in HIV patients are correlated with increased CD4+ T cell count and low levels of viral load; however, other studies have reported contradictory results and challenged this observation. Stem cell therapy to replace a patient's immune cells with cells that are more HIV-resistant is a promising approach. Pre-implantation gene transfection of these stem cells can augment the HIV-resistance of progeny CD4+ T cells. As a protein, APOBEC3G has the advantage that it can be genetically encoded, while small molecules cannot. We have developed a mathematical model to quantitatively study the effects on in vivo HIV replication of therapeutic delivery of CD34+ stem cells transfected to overexpress APOBEC3G. Our model suggests that stem cell therapy resulting in a high fraction of APOBEC3G-overexpressing CD4+ T cells can effectively inhibit in vivo HIV replication. We extended our model to simulate the combination of APOBEC3G therapy with other biological activities, to estimate the likelihood of improved outcomes.