Resistance profiles of novel electrostatically constrained HIV-1 fusion inhibitors

Kazuya Shimura, Daisuke Nameki, Keiko Kajiwara, Kentaro Watanabe, Yasuko Sakagami, Shinya Oishi, Nobutaka Fujii, Masao Matsuoka, Stefan G. Sarafianos, Eiichi N. Kodama

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38 Citations (Scopus)


Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) gp41 plays a key role in viral fusion; the N- and C-terminal heptad repeats (N-HR and C-HR) of gp41 form a stable 6-helical conformation for fusion. Therefore, HR-derived peptides, such as enfuvirtide (T-20), inhibit HIV-1 fusion by acting as decoys, and have been used for the treatment of HIV-1 infection. However, the efficacy of T-20 is attenuated by resistance mutations in gp41, including V38A and N43D. To suppress the resistant variants, we previously developed electrostatically constrained peptides, SC34 and SC34EK, and showed that both exhibited potent anti-HIV-1 activity against wild-type and T-20-resistant variants. In this study, to clarify the resistance mechanism to this next generation of fusion inhibitors, we selected variants with resistance to SC34 and SC34EK in vitro. The resistant variants had multiple mutations in gp41. All of these mutations individually caused less than 6-fold resistance to SC34 and SC34EK, indicating that there is a significant genetic barrier for high-level resistance. Cross-resistance to SC34 and SC34EK was reduced by a simple difference in the polarity of two intramolecular electrostatic pairs. Furthermore, the selected mutations enhanced the physicochemical interactions with N-HR variants and restored activities of the parental peptide, C34, even to resistant variants. These results demonstrate that our approach of designing gp41-binding inhibitors using electrostatic constraints and information derived from resistance studies produces inhibitors with enhanced activity, high genetic barrier, and distinct resistance profile from T-20 and other inhibitors. Hence, this is a promising approach for the design of future generation peptide fusion inhibitors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)39471-39480
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Biological Chemistry
Issue number50
Publication statusPublished - 2010 Dec 10


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