Restoring Innate Defense Against HIV Infection: Inducing Endogenous Expression of Retrocyclin Antimicrobials

Technology #31689

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Verification of stable transfection of retrocyclin constructs. Analysis of the genomic DNA and RNA of transfected HL60 cells confirms the stable transfection and transcription of rescued retrocyclin constructs respectively.
Alexander Cole, Ph.D.
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Brion Berman
Assistant Director 407.882.0342
Patent Protection

Methods and products for reawakening retrocyclins

US Patent 8,765,698 B2
Reawakening Retrocyclins: Ancestral Human Defensins Active Against HIV-1
PLOS Biology , April 28, 2009

Novel approach to HIV therapy enables the body’s own innate defense mechanisms to prevent HIV infection

UCF researchers have developed a technique that induces human cells to produce functional theta-defensins, which are known to inhibit infection by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS.

Theta-defensins, such as retrocyclins, are endogenous antimicrobial peptides that can inhibit HIV-1 entry into human cells. While these peptides are produced in Old World monkeys and orangutans, they are not expressed in humans due to a premature stop codon that prevents translation. The retrocyclin gene is otherwise intact and functional.

Technical Details

This technology provides methods for inducing the expression of theta-defensins, such as retrocylin-1, endogenous antimicrobial peptides. Aminoglycoside antibiotics are used to read-through the premature termination codon in the retrocyclin transcript and to produce the peptides that are active against HIV. The ability to restore endogenous expression of retrocyclins in human cells could provide a new mechanism to prevent HIV-1 infection.


  • A natural and endogenous mechanism to prevent viruses such as HIV-1 from infecting mammalian cells
  • Aminoglycoside antibiotics are widely available and inexpensive
  • Minimal cytotoxicity in vitro


  • Development of aminoglycosides as topical microbiocides for prevention of HIV infection