Author(s): Louis JM, Aniana A, Weber IT, Sayer JM
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Abstract Self-cleavage at the N terminus of HIV-1 protease from the Gag-Pol precursor (autoprocessing) is crucial for stabilizing the protease dimer required for onset of mature-like catalytic activity, viral maturation, and propagation. Among nine clinical protease inhibitors (PIs), darunavir and saquinavir were the most effective in inhibiting wild-type HIV-1 group M precursor autoprocessing, with an IC(50) value of 1-2 μM, 3-5 orders of magnitude higher than their binding affinities to the corresponding mature protease. Accordingly, both group M and N precursor-PI complexes exhibit T(m)s 17-21 °C lower than those of the corresponding mature protease-PI complexes suggestive of markedly reduced stabilities of the precursor dimer-PI ensembles. Autoprocessing of group N (natural variant) and three group M precursors bearing 11-20 mutations associated with multidrug resistance was either weakly responsive or fully unresponsive to inhibitors at concentrations up to a practical limit of approximately 150 μM PI. This observation parallels decreases of up to 8 × 10(3)-fold (e.g., 5 pM to 40 nM) in the binding affinity of darunavir and saquinavir to mature multidrug resistant proteases relative to wild type, suggesting that inhibition of some of these mutant precursors will occur only in the high μM to mM range in extreme PI-resistance, which is an effect arising from coordinated multiple mutations. An extremely darunavir-resistant mutant precursor is more responsive to inhibition by saquinavir. These findings raise the questions whether clinical failure of PI therapy is related to lack of inhibition of autoprocessing and whether specific inhibitors can be designed with low-nM affinity to target autoprocessing.
This article was published in Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A
and referenced in Internal Medicine: Open Access