The Abdel-Mohsen Laboratory
The Abdel-Mohsen laboratory investigates the role of host-virus interactions in persistence and immunopathogenesis of HIV infection by combining virological, glycobiological, and immune-based basic and translational research. The multidisciplinary studies aim to develop novel approaches to enhance immune function and control/eradicate HIV.
The focus of the work in the lab is based on a combination of approaches including investigating the role of glycan-lectin interactions and altered cell-surface glycosylation in mediating cellular processes central to immune regulation and human diseases; designing multi-omics approaches to study host immune response to HIV infection; and developing and implementing robust and sensitive molecular biology-based assays to measure cellular and tissue HIV reservoirs.
Florent Colomb, Ph.D.
Alitzel Greet Anzurez Reyes
All living cells assemble a diverse repertoire of glycan structures on their surface via their glycosylation machinery. With recent advances in the glycobiology field, host glycosylation and glycan-lectin signaling have been shown to play critical roles in immune responses and in cell-cell and cell-pathogen interactions. Glycan structure alterations have been identified as biomarkers for cancer and multiple cellular processes. Activated, HIV-infected cells have altered cell-surface glycosylation patterns with respect to resting, uninfected cells. While the association between hyposialylation and chronic HIV infection was suggested over two decades ago, the relevance of host glycosylation to HIV persistence has never been characterized. However, recent development in glycobiological technologies provides an opportunity to revisit this critical issue. In a recent publication, we demonstrated that the human carbohydrate-binding protein galectin-9 regulates HIV transcription and potently reactivates latent HIV in vitro, as well as ex vivo using CD4+ T cells from the blood of HIV+ individuals on suppressive antiretroviral therapy, in an N-glycan-dependent manner. This suggests that host glycan-lectin interactions likely mediate signals that define, in part, the transcriptional state of HIV and that host glycosylation machinery may be exploited to develop novel HIV therapeutic strategies. Furthermore, we used cutting-edge glycomics technologies to demonstrate that host glycan-lectin interactions and altered host glycosylation are associated with deficits in immune function that in turn contribute to HIV persistence. The cell-surface sugar-coating may hold the key to new therapeutics that can be harnessed to cure HIV and possibly a range of other infectious diseases.