Jan Münch, Ph.D. Ulm University, Germany
Jan Münch is a professor at the Institute of Molecular Virology at Ulm University, Germany. He studied biology and did his graduate studies at the Friedrich Alexander University in Erlangen-Nuremberg on the pathogenesis of HIV. His current research focuses on the isolation and characterization of novel antiviral peptides from body fluids and tissues, along with their evaluation as drug leads or application as biomarker or nanomaterials. He holds several patents and is cofounder of ViroPharmaceuticals, a biotech company focusing on the development of viral anchoring inhibitors. Dr. Münch’s group identified amyloid fibrils in human semen that enhance HIV infection, a seminal discovery that offers novel opportunities to block sexual transmission of the AIDS virus.
The molecular tweezer CLR01 counteracts semen amyloids and inhibits HIV infection
Human semen contains amyloid fibrils, which form by self-assembly of protein fragments produced through enzymatic cleavage of the abundant proteins prostatic acid phosphatase (PAP) and semenogelin (SEM) 1 and 2. These fibrils, for example those composed of the fragment PAP248-286 (termed SEVI, an acronym of Semen-derived Enhancer of Virus Infection), boost viral infection because they are positively charged, and therefore can bridge the electrostatic repulsion between negatively charged viral and cellular membranes (Arnold et al., 2012; Münch et al., 2007; Roan et al., 2011). Counteracting the viral enhancing activity of amyloid in semen is a promising strategy to reduce sexual HIV transmission rates. In our recent publication (Lump, et al. “A molecular tweezer antagonizes seminal amyloids and HIV infection.” eLife, 2015) we demonstrated that the molecular tweezer CLR01 (see figure 1A) specifically binds lysine residues which are highly abundant in amyloidogenic seminal peptides.