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Structure-Based Identification of HIV-1 Nucleocapsid Protein Inhibitors Active against Wild-Type and Drug-Resistant HIV-1 Strains

By Mori Mattia; Dasso Lang Maria Chiara; Botta Maurizio; Kovalenko Lesia; Pires Manuel; Humbert Nicolas; Real Eleonore; Mely Yves; Kovalenko Lesia; Malancona Savina; et al
From ACS chemical biology (2018), 13(1), 253-266, Language: English, Database: MEDLINE

HIV/AIDS is still one of the leading causes of death worldwide. Current drugs that target the canonical steps of the HIV-1 life cycle are efficient in blocking viral replication but are unable to eradicate HIV-1 from infected patients. Moreover, drug resistance (DR) is often associated with the clinical use of these molecules, thus raising the need for novel drug candidates as well as novel putative drug targets. In this respect, pharmacological inhibition of the highly conserved and multifunctional nucleocapsid protein (NC) of HIV-1 is considered a promising alternative to current drugs, particularly to overcome DR. Here, using a multidisciplinary approach combining in silico screening, fluorescence-based molecular assays, and cellular antiviral assays, we identified nordihydroguaiaretic acid (6), as a novel natural product inhibitor of NC. By using NMR, mass spectrometry, fluorescence spectroscopy, and molecular modeling, 6 was found to act through a dual mechanism of action never highlighted before for NC inhibitors (NCIs). First, the molecule recognizes and binds NC noncovalently, which results in the inhibition of the nucleic acid chaperone properties of NC. In a second step, chemical oxidation of 6 induces a potent chemical inactivation of the protein. Overall, 6 inhibits NC and the replication of wild-type and drug-resistant HIV-1 strains in the low micromolar range with moderate cytotoxicity that makes it a profitable tool compound as well as a good starting point for the development of pharmacologically relevant NCIs.

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