, Volume 44, Issue 2, pp 701-713
Date: 09 Sep 2012

Covalent fusion inhibitors targeting HIV-1 gp41 deep pocket

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Abstract

Covalent inhibitors form covalent adducts with their target, thus permanently inhibiting a physiological process. Peptide fusion inhibitors, such as T20 (Fuzeon, enfuvirtide) and C34, interact with the N-terminal heptad repeat of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) gp41 glycoprotein to form an inactive hetero six-helix bundle (6-HB) to prevent HIV-1 infection of host cells. A covalent strategy was applied to peptide fusion inhibitor design by introducing a thioester group into C34-like peptide. The modified peptide maintains the specific interaction with its target N36. After the 6-HB formation, a covalent bond between C- and N-peptides was formed by an inter-helical acyl transfer reaction, as characterized by various biophysical and biochemical methods. The covalent reaction between the reactive C-peptide fusion inhibitor and its N-peptide target is highly selective, and the reaction greatly increases the thermostability of the 6-HB. The modified peptide maintains high potency against HIV-1-mediated cell–cell fusion and infection.

Y. Bai, H. Xue contributed equally to this work.