Journal of virology 2017 08 2491(18) pii 10.1128/JVI.00847-17
Rhesus macaques are used to model human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infections, but they are not natural hosts of HIV-1 or any simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV). Rather, they became infected with SIV through cross-species transfer from sooty mangabeys in captivity. It has been shown that HIV-1 utilizes rhesus CD4 less efficiently than human CD4. However, the relative ability of SIV envelope glycoproteins to bind or utilize these CD4 orthologs has not been reported. Here we show that several SIV isolates, including SIVmac239, are more efficiently neutralized by human CD4-Ig (huCD4-Ig) than by the same molecule bearing rhesus CD4 domains 1 and 2 (rhCD4-Ig). An I39N mutation in CD4 domain 1, present in human and sooty mangabey CD4 orthologs, largely restored rhCD4-Ig neutralization of SIVmac239 and other SIV isolates. We further observed that SIVmac316, a derivative of SIVmac239, bound to and was neutralized by huCD4-Ig and rhCD4-Ig with nearly identical efficiencies. Introduction of two SIVmac316 CD4-binding site residues (G382R and H442Y) into the SIVmac239 envelope glycoprotein (Env) markedly increased its neutralization sensitivity to rhesus CD4-Ig without altering neutralization by human CD4-Ig, SIV neutralizing antibodies, or sera from SIV-infected macaques. These changes also allowed SIVmac239 Env to bind rhCD4-Ig more efficiently than huCD4-Ig. The variant with G382R and H442Y (G382R/H442Y variant) also infected cells expressing rhesus CD4 with markedly greater efficiency than did unaltered SIVmac239 Env. We propose that infections of rhesus macaques with SIVmac239 G382R/H442Y might better model some aspects of human infections.IMPORTANCE Rhesus macaque infection with simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) has served as an important model of human HIV-1 infection. However, differences between this model and the human case have complicated the development of vaccines and therapies. Here we report the surprising observation that SIVmac239, a commonly used model virus, more efficiently utilizes human CD4 than the CD4 of rhesus macaques, whereas the closely related virus SIVmac316 uses both CD4 orthologs equally well. We used this insight to generate a form of SIVmac239 envelope glycoprotein (Env) that utilized rhesus CD4 more efficiently, while retaining its resistance to antibodies and sera from infected macaques. This Env can be used to make the rhesus model more similar in some ways to human infection, for example by facilitating infection of cells with low levels of CD4. This property may be especially important to efforts to eradicate latently infected cells.