The membrane protein Cluster of Differentiation 4, CD4, is specifically found in the cell membranes of immune cells such as T helper cells and dendritic cells. Its function is predominantly to communicate with antigen-presenting cells.
The chemokine receptors, C-X-C chemokine receptor type 4 (CXCR4) and C-C chemokine receptor type 5 (CCR5) are membrane receptors that similarly modulate immune cell function, including chemotaxis and inflammation.
Although all three proteins have functions distinct from each other, in concert, they play a crucial role in allowing HIV to infect immune cells. HIV uses CD4 and either CXCR4 or CCR5 to fuse its membrane with that of the target cell, allowing it to inject its genome into the host.
We aim to synthesise artificial membranes with CD4 and either CXCR4 or CCR5 embedded in them. This would simulate the immune cell surface and compete for HIV fusion. Ultimately, we hope to develop a novel therapeutic method for treating HIV infection.
Contact person: Dr. Darren Tan