The G-protein coupled receptor CCR5 functions pathologically as the primary co-receptor for macrophage tropic (R5) strains of HIV-1. The interactions responsible for co-receptor activity are unknown. Molecular-dynamics simulations of the extracellular and adjacent transmembrane domains of CCR5 were performed with explicit solvation utilizing a rhodopsin-based homology model. The functional unit of co-receptor binding was constructed via docking and molecular-dynamics simulation of CCR5 and the variable 3 loop of gp120, which is a dominant determinant of co-receptor utilization. The variable 3 loop was demonstrated to interact primarily with the amino terminus and the second extracellular loop of CCR5, providing novel structural information regarding the co-receptor-binding site. Alanine mutants that alter chemokine binding and co-receptor activity were examined. Molecular-dynamics simulations with and without the variable 3 loop of gp120 were able to rationalize the activities of these mutants successfully, providing support for the proposed model. Based on these results, the global complex of CCR5, gp120 including the V3 loop and CD4, was investigated. The utilization of computational analysis, in combination with molecular biological data, provides a powerful approach for understanding the use of CCR5 as a co-receptor by HIV-1.
- Molecular modeling
- V3 loop