Dr Qinxue Hu is a Senior Lecturer in Viral Infection and Immunity.
He studies the mechanisms of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 and herpes simplex virus (HSV)-2 infections at mucosal surfaces like the vagina and rectum, and is trying to develop novel approaches to prevent these processes.
Dr Qinxue Hu has been working on HIV-1 since 1997 when he investigated HIV-1 envelope glycoprotein (Env), chemokines and chemokine receptors at the University of Louisville in USA. He examined the biological properties of serial viral isolates and determined co-receptor utilization by the products of HIV-1 env cloned from individuals, followed from the detection of seroconversion throughout the course of their infection. These studies provide critical insights into the utilization of co-receptors during the course of AIDS required to understand the pathogenesis of target cell specificity that is critical to the design of antagonists of viral entry.
He has been elucidating the mechanisms and inhibition of HIV-1 mucosal infection at St George’s since 2000. One research direction focuses on addressing the inhibition and escape mechanisms of entry inhibitors, in particular CCR5 antagonists and carbohydrate binding agents.This may have particular importance when considering the development of CCR5 inhibitors for use as topical microbicides to prevent HIV-1 sexual transmission. He uses ex vivo explant models to investigate the mechanisms of HIV-1 mucosal infection.
One of Dr Hu's studies reveals that blockade of CD4 alone or CCR5 and CXCR4 together can inhibit localised mucosal infection, but simultaneous blockade of CD4 and mannose-binding C-type lectin receptors including DC-SIGN is required to inhibit HIV-1 uptake and dissemination by migratory cells, highlighting important targets for microbicide development.
In addition to mechanistic understanding of HIV-1 mucosal infection, he is interested in how HSV-2 mediates the enhancement of HIV-1 sexual transmission and the design of strategies to enhance mucosal immune responses against viruses. Following the investigation of augmented chemokine CXCL9 levels in the cervical mucus of HSV-2 positive women, his study provides one molecular explanation for HSV-2 induced CXCL9 expression, which may recruit CD4+ T cells to the infection area and potentially increase the risk of HIV-1 sexual transmission.
Dr Hu's other studies demonstrate that genetic coimmunisation with chemokine CCL19 or CCL28 has attractive potential for promoting mucosal responses to HIV-1 vaccine candidate gp140. He is coordinating the Hotung China-UK collaborative initiative between St George’s and the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and a China multiple-project grant involving eight leading Chinese research institutions. By fusing the laboratory work between St George’s and Wuhan, the research outcome will be instrumental in understanding the mechanisms of HIV-1 and HSV-2 mucosal infections, which can be used in a translational fashion to develop topical microbicides and mucosal vaccines applicable in developing countries.
Dr Hu joined St George’s in 2000, working on the mechanism and intervention of HIV-1 mucosal infection. He has been coordinating the Hotung China-UK collaborative initiative between St George’s and Wuhan Institute of Virology, Chinese Academy of Sciences since 2008. Previously, he worked on viral pathogens at the Wuhan Institute of Virology from 1990 to 1997 and on HIV-1 at University of Louisville in USA from 1997 to 2000.
Dr Qinxue Hu received his BSc degree from Hunan Normal University in China, MSc degree from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and gained a PhD from the University of London.
Hu K, Luo S, Tong L, Huang X, Jing W, Huang W, Du T, Yan Y, He S, Griffin G, Shattock R, Hu Q*. CCL19 and CCL28 augment mucosal and systemic immune responses to HIV-1 gp140 by mobilizing responsive immunocytes into secondary lymph nodes and mucosal tissue. J Immunol, 2013, 191:1935-1947. (Featured on cover)
Du T, Hu K, Yang J, Jing J, Li C, Stieh D, Griffin G, Shattock R, Hu Q*. Bifunctional CD4-DC-SIGN fusion proteins demonstrate enhanced avidity to gp120 and inhibit HIV-1 infection and dissemination. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 2012, 56(9):4640-4649.
Huang W, Hu K, Luo S, Zhang M, Li C, Jin W, Liu Y, Griffin G, Shattock R, Hu Q*. HSV-2 infection of human epithelial cells induces CXCL9 expression and CD4+ T cell migration via activation of p38-C/EBP-β pathway. J Immunol, 2012, 188(12):6247-6257. (Evaluated by Faculty of 1000)
Huang X, Jin W, Hu K, Luo S, Du T, Griffin G, Shattock R, Hu Q*. Highly conserved HIV-1 gp120 glycans proximal to CD4-binding region affect viral infectivity and neutralizing antibody induction. Virology. 2012, 423(1):97-106. (Featured on cover)
Huang X, Jin W, Griffin G, Shattock R, Hu Q*. Removal of two high-mannose N-linked glycans on gp120 renders HIV-1 largely resistant to the carbohydrate-binding agent griffithsin. J Gen Virol. 2011, 92(10):2367-2373.
Hu Q, Frank I, Williams V, Santos J, Watts P, Griffin G, Moore J, Pope M, Shattock R. Blockade of attachment and fusion receptors inhibits HIV-1 infection of human cervical tissue. J Exp Med, 2004, 199(8): 1065-1075. (Featured in: “HIV transmission: Closing all the doors”. J Exp Med, 2004, 199(8): 1037-1040. “HIV: pulling out the stops”. Nat Rev Immunol, 2004, 4(6): 400-401)
Hu Q, Barry A, Wang Z, Connolly S, Peiper S, Greenberg M. Evolution of the HIV-1 envelope during infection reveals molecular corollaries of specificity for coreceptor utilization and AIDS pathogenesis. J Virol, 2000, 74(24): 11858-11872.